Jada Pinkett Smith Turned Down a Major Movie Role Due To Her Loyalty To Tupac Shakur

The bond between Jada Pinkett Smith and Tupac Shakur was undeniable. The two met as teenagers and supported one another as they navigated their careers in Hollywood. Smith and Tupac were so close that they had influence over another’s business decisions. Smith turned down a major movie role out of her loyalty to Tupac, as Tupac had issues with the directors. 

Jada Pinkett Smith said no to a role in ‘Dead Presidents’ because of Tupac Shakur’s beef with the directors

Smith and Tupac met while attending high school together in Baltimore and their connection was instant. Their friendship remained strong as both rose to fame in Hollywood. Their loyalty to one another was also consistent, as evident from Smith turning down a role in Dead Presidents out of loyalty to Tupac. 

At the time of the filming for Dead Presidents, Tupac and the film’s directors – the Hughes brothers – were engulfed in a major beef. Tupac was set to star in a previous Hughes brothers film but he was fired. One of the brother’s got into a physical altercation with Tupac over the firing. Tupac was later charged with assault and battery over the fight.

During a recent interview with HipHollywood, actor Larenz Tate recalls having a conversation with Smith her turning down the role. Tate starred in the film.

“We’re on set in New Orleans talking about that experience. I said, ‘I talked to the Hughes brothers and you were supposed to be in the movie.’ And she says ‘I was.’ She was like, ‘I couldn’t do it because, at the time, I was really close with Tupac and Tupac had this beef with the Hughes brothers,’” Tate explains. 

He continues: “She had a good relationship with Tupac and she didn’t want to get in the middle of it. She thought if she had done that movie, it would’ve been a little weird.”

‘Dead Presidents’ became a cult classic 

Released in 1995, the crime thriller chronicles the life of Anthony Curtis and focuses on his teenage years through his experiences during the Vietnam War. Curtis returns to his hometown in The Bronx section of New York and struggles to support himself and his family. As a result, he turns to a life of crime. 

The film is based partially on the real-life experiences of Haywood T. Kirkland. Kirkland’s story is also detailed in the book Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans by Wallace Terry. Many of the characters in the film are based on real acquaintances of Kirkland’s. Dead Presidents is also is based on incidents involving the Black Liberation Army.

The film received mixed reviews from critics but much praise from audiences. The Hughes brothers believe Tupac would have overshadowed the rest of the cast in the film with Alan Huges telling MTV, “If ‘Pac had been in the movie he would’ve outshined everyone,” he said per Madame Noire. “It would’ve thrown the whole axis of the movie off if Tupac was in it, because he was bigger than the movie.”

Despite losing out on two roles in the Hughes brothers’ films, Tupac’s acting career did not suffer. Prior to his death at the young age of 25, Tupac starred in five films.

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