How about something fun for my last post of 2011?
So 99 times out of 100 when I’m sent sides (an audition script), I can look at the product as a whole, look at where the character fits into the story, and build something from the ground up. But there was one screen test I did this year where I had to do things a little differently…
When I first heard about the project (when Antoine Fuqua was still attached), I was actually aiming for the part of Mopreme, one of Pac’s older relatives who in the story (real and fictional) acted as his conscience. Then word went out that there was an open call for the title role, and they wanted an ‘unknown’. To be truthful, I was still a little hesitant (since at this point I’m older than Pac was when he was murdered), but after a few ‘Fuck That!’ conversations and reminders that every biopic I like uses this rare technique known as ‘makeup’, I decided to go in.
So now it’s a question of craft. Creating a completely original character is one type of challenge. But how do you create a character that based off a real person whose own persona is iconic in its own right? We all know what Pac looked like, we know how he sounded when he talked, how he sounded when he rapped. If you do a pitch perfect impersonation, you’re seen as an impersonator and not an actor. But you stray too far away from the public persona, and you’re rejected for not being ‘accurate’ or ‘realistic’. This is why playing real people, living or dead, is generally seen as the greater challenge.
So the sides went out and as a 2Pac fan I recognized it instantly from my teenage years. You have to take me at my word when I say I didn’t rewatch this until after I did my screen test:
So I learned the words, thought about the emotions behind them (frustration) and made some choices. Part two of the screen test was doing any Pac song that we liked. The choice I made in that regard was to stay away from his best known videos, where again we all have an established ‘visual’ performance to go with the lyrics. I lucked out a little since my favorite Pac song doesn’t have the ‘iconic’ video to go with it.
So my last gift for you this year, my loyal readers, is the screen test I did for ‘Tupac’. You can judge for yourself if the choices I made ‘worked’ or if I could’ve gone farther with it. I heard John (Singleton) is calling the shots now, so if you’ll excuse me I have to go butter up one of my fellow Trojans.
Feliz Ano Nuevo!