At a press junket for the upcoming Biggie biopic, Notorious, Anthony Mackie, who plays Tupac in the film, talked about the impact that Pac’s lyrics had on him as a teen.
Anthony Mackie once played Tupac Shakur in an off Broadway play back in 2001. He reprised the role of the slain West Coast emcee for Notorious, the biographical movie based on the life of the Notorious B.I.G.
“The first CD that I ever got was Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.,” he revealed. “In the 90’s LA was a scary place. When I started listening to Tupac’s lyrics I was like that’s a completely different world and a world that I never want to see and I never want to experience but I now know.”
Mackie explains the interconnected relationship Biggie and Pac shared, which helped him understand his role as Tupac, the friend and foe of the film’s subject. He explained how he connected with Tupac through his music in a way that allowed him to see things through Pac’s eyes.
“Pac’s music just fueled the fire for me,” he continued. “I love Big. I love his Brooklyn swagger I love everything he gave to the music industry but I feel like Pac fed him a lot of food so I was all about Pac, everything he put out, everything he wrote.”
In order to prepare for his role as Tupac, Mackie says he re-read books by Eldridge Cleaver, a civil rights leader who Pac referenced in his song, “Ghetto Gospel,” and Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former black panther activist who wrote a memoir titled, Live From Death Row.
He also loaded up on a steady diet of Tupac’s music. “I got so much Pac on my iPod,” he said. “It was really just tapping into what he was saying and the things that he was trying to get across as opposed to shaving my head and going to the gym.”
Notorious hits theaters on January 16, 2008.