Tupac Shakur - inset, and Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu in the second 'Star Wars' trilogy(Photo: AP/LucasFilm/20th …
The late Tupac Shakur is best known for being one of the biggest hip-hop artists in history, having sold north of 75 million records worldwide. However, if his life hadn't ended tragically at the age of 25, he might have also been renowned for his skills with a lightsaber.
Shakur was apparently set to audition for George Lucas for the role of Mace Windu in "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace" (1999), the purple lightsaber-wielding Jedi Master played by Samuel L. Jackson in all three "Star Wars" prequels. This surprising bit of news comes from Rick Clifford, the former chief engineer of record label Death Row Records.
"It's sad because 'Pac found out that I worked for Brian Austin Green, who was on '90210,' then he found out I was in some movies. So we always talked about his film career and stuff," Clifford said in an interview with 2Pac-Forum last week.
"He was telling me that he was supposed to read for George Lucas and them. They wanted him to be a Jedi. Yes, I'm serious — Samuel L. got Tupac's part." (Yahoo Movies reached out to LucasFilm about this claim, but we have yet to receive comment.)
Now, don't get us wrong — we love Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu (even if we don't love the "Star Wars" prequels themselves, but never mind). But it would've been sweet indeed to see Tupac engaged in a mighty one-on-one battle with the man who became the Emperor of the evil Empire. Sure, Jackson might have brought more age and gravitas to the role, but now we can't help but imagine this 'What If?' scenario.
Tupac definitely had the makings of a Jedi ... and a movie star. He made his feature film debut as part of the bizarre but delightful musical performance by the Digital Underground in Dan Aykroyd's lovable train wreck, "Nothing But Trouble" (1991), which was followed by an acclaimed turn as violent gang member Roland Bishop in "Juice" (1992), also starring Samuel L. Jackson. Shakur also co-starred with Janet Jackson in John Singleton's "Poetic Justice" (1993) and Duane Martin in "Above the Rim" (1994).
What we consider to be Shakur's finest on-screen performance was his turn in "Gridlock'd," a surrealist "After Hours"-style dark comedy in which heroin addicts Ezekiel 'Spoon' Whitmore (Shakur) and Alexander 'Stretch' Rawland (Tim Roth) traverse the mean (and weird) streets of Detroit in an attempt to check themselves into rehab, a task that ends up being much more challenging — and dangerous — than they ever could've anticipated.
Sadly, "Gridlock'd" hit theaters on Jan. 31, 1997, a few months after Shakur's death on Sept. 13, 1996, following being shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. And "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace" came out May 19, 1999.
Watch 'The Making of Star Wars' eBook Clip:
- Arts & Entertainment
- Samuel L. Jackson
- George Lucas
- Mace Windu