Producer LT Hutton Talks The Making Of The Forthcoming 'Tupac' Biopic
Producer LT Hutton talks the making of the forthcoming Tupac biopic from director John Singleton in conversation with Life + Times. The in-depth chat about the upcoming production from Hutton’s Program Pictures in conjunction with Morgan Creek and Open Road Films arrives on what would have been the rap icon’s 43rd birthday. Hutton discusses the significance of the man he calls “America’s Son“, Pac’s fiery disposition and the deeper relationship between Big and Pac; a topic he suggests was trivialized in the 2009 Biggie biopic, Notorious. Hutton breaks down the ways in which his relationship with Pac and other players in the rapper’s story will ultimately help to inform the film and talks his overall passion for it. Take a look at the text below to get a taste of Hutton’s chat with Life + Times. Read the full transcript of the interview via lifeandtimes.com. Get more on the Tupac biopic via morgancreek.com.
Life+Times: This film is significant to millions of diehard ‘Pac fans worldwide, myself included. No pressure, of course.
LT Hutton: It really is no pressure. Everything is flowing naturally because my life has been ‘Pac’s life. We had very similar upbringings, very similar desires and wants out of the world. I tell people most of us are here because ‘Pac paved the way. He was a revolutionary and pioneer, forcing our culture down a lot of people’s throats that didn’t want to accept it at the time. He cleared out a lot of rubbish in the streets, so to speak, to make it where people wanted to just stop and hear his voice. You had the President of the United States, plus the Vice President, both speaking about this guy adamantly at the time. Through all that controversy, people had to stop and see exactly what he was saying. And when they started listening and stopped bashing him, they realized he wasn’t as bad as they thought he was. He ultimately engaged them. When ‘Pac said, ‘I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world,’ he’s talking about JAY Z. He’s talking about men like myself. He’s talking about the young leaders of the Arab Spring. He touched so many lives with what he did and he gave us that sense of okay, we need to be these types of people in order to survive. He lost his life at 25! He was that spark; the spark that sent the ultimate message. Not to sound Biblical, but he gave his life so that we may see and have a better future because if he hadn’t died that way, his message may not be as big as it is.
L+T: Quincy Jones wrote about it in the foreword for the Tupac Shakur book by VIBE, marveling at ‘Pac only being 25 when he was killed and the legacy he left us at such a young age.
LT Hutton: President Obama would still be in school! You follow what I’m saying? That’s what people don’t understand. When you talk about this film, what it is and what it means, for me to be able to take a project like this that happens to be so close to my heart and from our world and our culture, I can’t explain enough that it feels like ‘Pac knew it would be this way. The film has been around a long time and it wasn’t getting made. When we went after it we had a bunch of setbacks but from day one, Morgan Creek believed in me and they’ve been fully supportive. We could have shot the first script, but it would have just been good. We’re not looking for good! We don’t get a Tupac, Tupac 2 and Tupac 3. We get one shot. Those two hours and twenty or thirty minutes have to be all meat, no fat. All sustenance. Just one day in Tupac’s life could have been a film. To document all his years and all his relationships—from the Outlawz, to Leila [Steinberg, his first manager], to Mopreme [Shakur, his older step-brother], to even Nas’s relationship with him—is a lot. There could be a whole movie on ‘Pac and Nas, ‘Pac and Biggie, ‘Pac and the Outlawz, ‘Pac and his mother Afeni Shakur, ‘Pac and Geronimo Pratt, etc. To show ‘Pac going through his life, receiving guidance from a legendary activist like Geronimo Pratt—that is heavy!”
L+T: It’s overwhelming to think how much content needs to be covered.
LT Hutton: “When I pitched the film to John Singleton about what we wanted covered in his re-write, I called it ‘the trilogy.’ It’s who Tupac was, who Tupac had to be (for the world he was brought into) and who Tupac wanted to be. That was the fight in him. He had to be all these people and still try to be who he was, who he had to be, and who he wanted to become. All those spirits were fighting inside him. If you asked 10 people who knew ‘Pac about him, you’d get 10 different stories. Were those stories wrong? Not at all; it just means he was all those people.”
L+T: When Tupac: Resurrection came out, I interviewed Afeni Shakur and it was an extremely emotional conversation. Afeni is directly involved in this project, correct?
LT Hutton: She has full say over most of everything that goes into it. If it were random executives doing this movie simply for monetary gains then you’d have something to worry about here. There is no way I would let this film go out without doing the greatest service that I possibly could do for the respect of the culture and this man. He spent his life fighting for this and now I fight for him. I’ve stood on conference room tables and fought to make sure certain things won’t happen. We’ve spoken extensively to everyone in ‘Pac’s life, over and over again, to make sure we are as clear as possible. Remember, this is Hollywood, so some biopics just rape the history and pull out the integrity of the artist. That is the last thing we want.
L+T: Did you know ‘Pac closely?
LT Hutton: Yes. Plus I know Jimmy Henchmen, and I know Haitian Jack, and other players in the story. As a Hollywood producer, there aren’t many people with my background. I am rooted in this world. We have a real point of reference to pull from and therefore you’re going to get duality in this film. This will not be a one-sided story. At the end of the day, and please quote me on this, this is not the LT Hutton story. This is not the Morgan Creek story. This is not the John Singleton story. It is the Tupac Shakur story. His voice has to be heard, and only his voice. Tupac wrote this movie.
L+T: How do you balance that positive and culturally rich side of his earlier life with the darker periods that came later?
LT Hutton: We don’t sugarcoat a thing in this picture. He’s really going through life! He eventually makes bad decisions, with no fanfare attached. We’re not making excuses nor are we making him a choirboy. We’re trying to give you understanding that ‘Pac was human and he still made mistakes. He was a kid! At times he wasn’t thinking clear. There’s a fine line between genius and insanity. Those elements are there, and they make for a truly entertaining ride.