Tupac Month: Tony Danza Talks About His Relationship with ‘Pac
So what did he say in response?
He writes me back, but he writes me back a letter that sort of doesn’t address anything I’ve said. It’s like, it’s almost as if he says, “thanks for understanding my predicament.”
Ha! That’s pretty funny. What’d you do at that point?
I wrote another letter, I don’t know what I was trying to say, maybe it was, “I think that with your talent comes responsibility, I mean there’s a lot of people who look up to you, and you’re not, maybe not living up to the potential that you possibly could have.” And then he wrote me back again. It was so funny to go to the mailbox and get a letter.
I bet. What did his letter to you say this time?
So this time he says, “I get it, I get it.” And then, from then on, we wrote a couple of letters back and forth and that was the end of it.
That was the end of it? Did you guys ever see each other after in person?
Well, he gets out of jail, and I think I went to some premiere with my family. And a guy came over, a big giant guy came over and said, “Tupac wants to see you.” I went over, said “Hello,” it wasn’t like we—you know, we weren’t drinking gin and juice together, but it was just this momentary thing where I reached out and he reached back.
That must’ve been a special moment. What was it like when you encountered him? What kind of conversation did you have when you guys actually met face-to-face?
It was just, you know, “Hey I really appreciate you writing me and I got what you were saying,” and I told him how much—you know it was like a million people around, it wasn’t like you could sit and talk for a minute. I don’t wanna make more of it than it was. Strictly like, I wrote the guy, he wrote me back, and then we had this one meeting where I saw him, talked to him for a second, just thanks. It wasn’t, you know—I wish I could give you like wow, then we rode together and because of my letter he didn’t die, you know what I mean? But that’s not what happened. And I’ll be honest with you, when I saw [Tupac] Resurrection, and I saw him bring it up, I was shocked.
That’s what I was gonna ask you about, because he made a big point to be like, “when Tony reached out to me, this made an impact on me.” He had Madonna and all these other people reaching out to him, but that was the one thing—you reaching out really was the one thing that woke him up a little, you know?
Interesting. That’s interesting, but it shows you, you know, human contact. I was trying to do a little tough love to Tupac, which is kinda strange, you know. The letters, it really was just a conversation about what the world is, what’s happening, and a lot about the responsibility that comes with great influence, that really was the theme.
How did you originally discover his music in the first place?
I have eclectic taste as far as music goes, and I’m interested in what people are listening to. And again, he was a good actor too. This particular guy had something else to attract me. I like the way his voice sounds, like everybody else, and what he says. And by the way, he was a—so much of all of this, you know, this stuff we watch on TV, this music we hear, our politics, it’s all a reflection of us, and he was reflecting, he was—I really, I found him profound in a lot of ways.
You saw Resurrection, so you were aware of his background in the sense of—he was conceived in jail, his mother was part of the Black Panther Party, his father was part of the Black Panther Party, he had a lot of political influence in his upbringing. I mean, his story is truly an American story.
That’s what I mean. This was not somebody who didn’t know what he was talking about, he was reflecting what he knew about, so I just found him really—like I said—there’s actually one letter where he, I can’t remember, but we got into this conversation about responsibility and influence and he felt [that it was his] responsibility [to inform others], but he had to balance that with his job, basically, what they were calling for.