After several years of delays, the Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez on Me finally started production last month, with newcomer Demetrius Shipp Jr. starring as the late rapper. The supporting cast is now starting to come together, with Deadline reporting that The Walking Dead star Danai Gurira has come aboard to play Tupac's mother, Afeni Shakur. Variety also reports that Katerina Graham has joined the cast to play Jada Pinkett Smith.
We reported last month that Benny Boom (Next Day Air) had signed on to direct, and that the production needed to get started by the end of 2015, or else production company Morgan Creek would lose Tupac Shakur's music rights, which will revert back to his mother, Afeni Shakur. Principal photography got started at the end of December, with Afeni Shakur herself on board as executive producer. Afeni Shakur is a political activist and an active member of the Black Panther party, who raised her son to be an avid reader and a political mind that influenced his rap music.
Jada Pinkett Smith grew up in Baltimore, Maryland with Tupac Shakur, and they both attended high school together at the Baltimore School for the Arts. They remained good friends until the rapper/actor was killed at the age of 25 in 1996. After his death, a collection of poetry was found that was later published in the 2009 book The Rose That Grew From Concrete. One of the poems in this collection was entitled "Jada," while another called "The Tears in the Cupid's Eyes" was inspired by her.
All Eyez on Me follows Tupac Shakur's meteoric rise to fame as a rapper and actor, along with his time spent in jail and the East Coast vs. West Coast feud he became embroiled in as part of Death Row Records. Benny Boom is directing from a script by Ed Gonzalez and Jeremy Haft (Street Kings 2: Motor City). Over the several years this project was in development, other writers such as Steven Bagatourian (American Gun), Stephen J. Rivele & Christopher Wilkinson (Pawn Sacrifice) and John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood) worked on the script.
Danai Gurira currently stars as Michonne on AMC's hit zombie series The Walking Dead, and her big-screen credits include The Visitor and My Soul to Take. Katerina Graham currently stars as Bonnie Bennett in The CW's The Vampire Diaries. What do you think about these new casting additions to All Eyez on Me?