All eyes are on the upcoming Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez On Me, which arrives this Friday (June 16), on what would’ve been the late rapper’s 46th birthday. Directed by acclaimed music video director Benny Boom, the film documents Tupac’s meteoric rise to fame in the ‘90s, and highlights his rivalry with Biggie and his dangerous allegiance to Death Row Records.
Perhaps more importantly, though, All Eyez On Me sheds light on Tupac’s personal life, including his childhood, his family, and the beliefs that shaped him as a man. One way Boom explores those deeper sides of Tupac is through the relationships with the women in ‘Pac’s life — his mother, Afeni; his sister, Set; his dear friend Jada Pinkett Smith; and his fiancée Kidada Jones are all given prominent portrayals.
Kat Graham, who plays Smith in the movie, explained to MTV News that there’s a common thread “of empowerment and strength” among all of those women.
“These women were fierce,” she explained. “And you see that that absolutely affected [Tupac] as a music artist. Because he had songs like ‘Dear Mama’ and he was somebody who was also very empowered himself. ... You have these moments where you’re watching this movie and you can see where he was inspired, maybe by Jada or Kidada or his mother or his sister. Things that motivated him, things that drove him.”
Producer L.T. Hutton further explained, “It was very important for us to show that he had compassion and he did love women, outside of women in music videos and things of that nature that’s all [fans] see. We wanted to show the human side, that this guy was a very loving individual.”
All Eyez, in turn, lets us see Tupac as a protective brother and son, a passionate romantic, and a loyal friend. His relationship with Pinkett Smith, for instance, was purely platonic but incredibly deep — Graham describes it as “an incredible soul connection” that “comes along once in a lifetime.” Their friendship is a big part of All Eyez, and aims to give both old and new Tupac fans a deeper understanding of the rapper.
“A lot of people think of ‘Pac and they think of a bandana over the head and the Thug Life tattoo and guns,” Graham said. “This movie really shows the complex, beautiful person that was Tupac.”
All Eyez On Me hits theaters on June 16.