Content Warning: Below are discussions about drug addiction
In addition to being one of the most famous rappers of all time, the late Tupac Shakur was also a good actor. After making his screen debut as a background player in high-profile comedy Nothing but trouble In 1991 Tupac received critical acclaim for his villainous role as bishop in his follow-up film, juice.
In 1993, Tupac switched again, playing a soft-hearted postman alongside Janet Jackson Poetic justice. In total, Tupac starred in seven feature films and two television episodes before his death, without appearing in archived film material or as himself in various television programs.
Updated October 14, 2021 by Kevin Pantoja: When Tupac Shakur is mentioned, everyone thinks of their music career. That makes sense since he’s considered one of the greatest rappers of all time. However, his acting career probably deserves more credit. While he wasn’t someone who was going to win an Oscar, he usually delivered high quality performances. The films that Tupac starred in have often received pretty good reviews, as has his acting, and the same goes for his television appearances. Many fans believe he would have taken on even bigger roles had he lived longer, as he was still on the rise at the time of his death.
9 Nothing but Trouble (1991) – 5.1
● Can be rented on Apple TV
As part of the Digital Underground rap crew, Tupac performed with Shock-G (aka Humpty Hump) in the farce directed by Dan Aykroyd Nothing but trouble.
The film stars Chevy Chase as financial advisor Chris Thorne, who takes a wrong turn with girlfriend Diane (Demi Moore) in a rundown backwater. After Chris and Diane are arrested for speeding, they are taken to a creepy mansion full of strange traps designed by a lustful judge (Aykroyd). When Chris is forced to marry the judge’s daughter, Tupac helps start the festivities with songs and shows off his two best talents.
8th Poetic Justice (1993) – 6.1
● Available on Hulu and The Roku Channel
Inside writer and director John Singletons Poetic justice, Janet Jackson plays a soulful poet who takes her best friend Iesha (Regina King), Iesha’s boyfriend Chicago (Joe Torry) and his postman friend Lucky (Tupac) on a road trip across the country.
Shaken by the murder of her boyfriend, Justice (Jackson) wants nothing to do with Lucky’s flirtation. However, when the two get to know each other on the trip, Justice learns that Lucky has his own problems with an ex drug addict and her young daughter Keisha. The more time they spend together, the closer Lucky and Justice get together.
7th Gang Related (1997) – 6.5
● Available on Max Go
The last Tupac film to be released posthumously was With reference to a gang, a drug-themed action thriller starring James Belushi, Dennis Quaid, James Earl Jones, Gary Cole and Lela Rochon.
Written and directed by Jim Kouf, the film revolves around detectives Divinci (Belushi) and Rodriguez (Tupac), two filthy cops who get in each other’s way while accidentally killing a DEA agent. When the two men try to cover up the crime by hiring a homeless man, they end up doing more harm than good.
6th Kugel (1996) – 6.5
Written by and with Mickey Rourke, who also acted as music supervisor, cartridge was released in theaters three weeks after Tupac’s death in 1996. However, the film was shot in 1994 under the direction of Julien Temple.
In terms of content, the film follows Butch “Bullet” Stein (Rourke), a Jewish heroin addict, fresh from an eight-year prison sentence. Upon his release, Bullet steals from a rival drug dealer named Tank (Tupac), who in turn hires a hit man to kill Bullet as quickly as possible. The film also plays names like Adrien Brody, Ted Levine, Peter Dinklage, and Michael K. Williams.
5 Over the Edge (1994) – 6.6
● Available on Max Go
After playing a semi-sweet protagonist in Poetic justice, Tupac returned to the big screen a year later as the main villain in the downtown basketball film Over the edge.
The plot involves Kyle Lee Watson (Duane Martin), a high school basketball star who plans to play for Georgetown University. When Kyle’s coach suggests that his mother’s boyfriend, Shep (Leon) take over the new coach, Kyle decides to compete in a street basketball tournament instead. Shep’s younger brother Birdie (Tupac) is a ruthless gang leader who trains a rival basketball team in the tournament and recruits Kyle. In the end, Kyle plays in the high stakes tournament against Birdie’s team.
4th Gridlock’d (1997) – 6.9
● Available on Starz
In Gridlock’d, Tupac and Tim Roth play as best friends and heroin addicts desperate to try the drugs after a friend’s fatal overdose. When Stretch (Roth) and Spoon (Tupac) join a detox program, they face a lot more bureaucratic trouble than it’s worth.
Written and directed by Vondie Curtis-Hall, the film also stars Thandie Newton, Charles Fleischer, John Sayles and Lucy Liu. The film received a Special Recognition Award for Excellence in Filmmaking from the National Board of Review.
3 Saft (1992) – 7.1
● Available on Prime Video
Ernest Dickersons juice follows a foursome of inner-city friends in New York who, under peer pressure, decide to rob a liquor store to gain popularity in the neighborhood. When the plan backfires with fatal consequences, the fabric of their friendship erodes in a short time.
Tupac plays Bishop in the film, one of the four friends alongside Q (Omar Epps), Steel (Jermaine Hopkins) and Raheem (Khalil Kain). After costing power to own a firearm, Bishop transforms into a merciless killing machine that his closest friends no longer recognize. In the end, the “juice” bishop comes at the highest cost.
2 Drexell’s class, S1E17 (1992) – 7.4
In the short-lived sitcom Drexell’s class, which ran for one season and eighteen episodes from 1991-1992, Tupac appeared as himself in the penultimate episode of the series.
The show revolves around white-collar criminal Otis Drexell (Dabney Coleman), a businessman who was caught evading tax. As a punishment, Drexell is forced to teach a primary school class until the back taxes have been paid in full. Tupac makes a cameo on the episode entitled “Cruisin ‘‘” which also featured Jason Priestly and Brittany Murphy.
1 Another World, S6E21 (1993) – 8.6
● Available on HBO Max
Tupac Shakur’s highest rated acting credit, according to IMDb, is the episode “Homey, Don’t You Know” from the ’90s sitcom Another world. Instead of performing as himself or as part of the rap group Digital Underground, Tupac plays a character named Piccolo on the show. His long-time girlfriend Jada Pinkett Smith also appears in the episode.
The episode involves Lena’s (Pinkett Smith) ex-boyfriend Piccolo (Tupac) and friends who arrive in their new neighborhood to visit. However, it becomes clear that Piccolo and his crew do not fit into Lena’s new environment.
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