The long-gestating Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez On Me is finally filming with the lead cast in place, as newcomer Demetrius Shipp Jr. has landed the job of portraying the legendary rapper. No official announcement was made, but the previously unknown actor made his casting public with a series of tweets from the set featuring crew, creators and other actors.
Shipp, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Shakur, is joined by an unexpected costar, as Jamal Woolard has been cast as Shakur’s former friend turned bitter rival, rapper Christopher Wallace, AKA The Notorious B.I.G. Woolard notably made his own screen debut playing B.I.G. in the 2009 biopic Notorious. In this, Woolard joins a small club of actors known for playing the same role in multiple, unrelated projects – one famous example is Michael Sheen, who has played former British Prime Minister Tony Blair serveral times.
All Eyez On Me has had a troubled road to production. In-development since 2011, John Singleton was brought on board to direct in 2014, but left the project earlier this year over difference with the studio over how the story of Shakur’s life would be told. Music video director Benny Boom was ultimately hired to replace Singleton.