Listen To This 19-Year-Old Interview With Tupac And Jim Belushi
The last role Tupac Amaru Shakur ever played was Jake Rodriguez, a crooked police detective who kills a cocaine dealer, then tries and fails to frame a homeless man for the murder. The film was called Gang Related; Tupac's costar was none other than Jim Belushi. A recently discovered audio recording captures a promotional interview for the film featuring its two marquee actors, Belushi and Shakur riffing off one another, at varying times hilarious, poignant, or both. The press junket was from Aug. 27, 1996; Tupac would be dead just over two weeks later.
Lavishing praise on the rapper, Belushi says that acting with Tupac is "like eating a great pasta," while commending his ability to stay present and intense in scenes. In turn, Pac was appreciative of Belushi's ability to balance the emotional and physical toll of the film with lighthearted, sometimes disgusting jokes--"normal people things," as Shakur termed it.
At the time, the Me Against The World rapper had been redeemed, at least in part: After being freed from jail, his 1996 double-album All Eyez On Me was a runaway hit with critics and fans. But Tupac was insatiable, hungry to move forward with acting and with his campaign to make entertainers more physically fit. In fact, his attitude at the time could be summed up with the anecdote he gave to explain his name's origins:
"Tupac Amaru was a freedom fighter, a warrior--similar to myself [laughs]. A chief, a leader. The British told him 'Give in, throw your guns down, throw your stuff down." He threw everything down. He went in to talk, to negotiate for peace. [The British] cuts his head, cut off his arms, cut off his legs, and put him on a stake in front of his people, like, 'See?' People ask me what my name means, and I don't tell them about Tupac Amaru. I just say it means 'determined.' I'm determined to never, ever negotiate again."