The power of “Menace II Society” wasn’t just in the film’s gritty story and shocking violence; the Hughes Brothers put together a rich cast that turned around two break-out performances from actors Tyrin Turner and Larenz Tate, who played Caine and O-Dog, respectively.
A young Jada Pinkett-Smith, Samuel L. Jackson, Clifton Powell, Charles S. Dutton, Bill Duke and MC Eiht rounded out the cast. Tupac Shakur was also cast for the 1993 classic, but a well-documented fight between the fiery rapper/actor and Allen Hughes put the brakes on that.
“We at a table reading, and Tupac’s just annoyed. We’re trying to read and he’s just annoyed,” Turner recalled to “RapFix Live” when he and Tate appeared to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the film.
Originally ’Pac was picked to play Sharif, a college-bound good kid trapped in the confines of a violence-plagued South Central Los Angeles. Shakur craved a bigger, meatier role, but he and the film’s directors didn’t see eye to eye. “The director and him had words and Tupac was no longer a part of it,” Turner continued.
During a 1993 episode of “Yo! MTV Raps,” ’Pac told the world that he “beat up the director of ’Menace II Society,'” referring to Allen Hughes. Turner remembers being on the set of Spice 1’s “Trigga Gots No Heart” and seeing the rapper and numerous members of ’Pac’s entourage beating on the director. “As we start getting closer… Allen is on the ground or whatever, but it was like he was fighting like 30 people,” Turner remembered. “I’m not saying Tupac wouldn’t have gave him a head-up fade, but that day he wasn’t giving him no head-up fade.”
Still, Allen Hughes speaks highly of Tupac and his acting ability — in fact, he believes that the rapper was too big of a star for his movie. “If ’Pac had been in the movie he would’ve outshined everyone,” Allen Hughes told MTV News back in January. “As wonderful a performance as Larenz was, I think Tupac… it would’ve thrown the whole axis of the movie off if Tupac was in it, because he was bigger than the movie.”
Turner disagrees. “I don’t think that’s accurate,” he contested respectfully. “I think Tupac was a great talent and God bless… but there were some other killers out there. Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, killers.”