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Casting Call: Tupac

Fresh off his supporting role in indie hit Short Term 12, 22-year-old Keith Stanfield is the ideal choice to portray Tupac. He's proven he's got the acting and rap skills to excel in the role, but he's just unrecognizable enough to avoid distracting audiences. Slap on a blue bandana and a nose ring, and he's all set for his Oscar.

Photo by Thea Goldberg, Interview Online, August 2013.

Rap sensation Sean Kingston was rumored to play Biggie Smalls in Notorious, but ultimately the role went to then-unknown Jamal Woolard. Luckily for Kingston, the Tupac biopic could be his second chance.


A fearless member of the Black Panther movement, Afeni Shakur was also a loving mother to her famous son. We think Viola Davis would brilliantly portray that combination of strength and maternal instinct. Plus, we think Davis can handle the pressure of having the real life Afeni Shakur hanging around set as producer.


Tupac's stepfather, Mutulu Shakur, was the political-activist-slash-bank-robber who helped to raise Tupac. He was also the father of rapper Mopreme Shakur, who was a member of Tupac's rap gangs, Thug Life Outlawz. We think rapper/actor Common could play a pretty convincing lawless stepfather to Tupac.   

Co-founder and former CEO of Death Row Records, Suge Knight agreed to post Tupac's hefty bail if he signed with the label. Knight often publically dissed his East Coast rivals, such as Puff Daddy, and rarely acted within the confines of the law. We think Idris Elba has the commanding presence to play this West Coast bigwig. We know he likes music—the actor spins once a week in Ibiza as DJ Dris.


Jada Pinkett (Smith) and Tupac were longtime friends after meeting at the Baltimore School for the Arts. Because Tupac did not have any great loves, this is the only opportunity to add an aesthetically pleasing young beauty to the cast. We think Zoe Saldana would be the ideal choice to play Tupac's platonic friend.