Well before hip-hop mogul and all around multi-hyphenate Sean ‘P Diddy” Combs would step into acting opportunities in films such as “A Raisin in the Sun” and Monster’s Ball,” he reportedly had his eyes set on another role — that of the lead in the 1992 hit movie “Juice.”
According to Ralph McDaniels, the founder and host of the hip-hop series “Video Music Box,” the Bad Boy executive wanted to play the role of Bishop, the character played by Tupac Shakur in “Juice.” During rapper Fat Joe’s hit Instagram Live show, which also airs on Revolt TV, McDaniels reminisced on that time and also shared an exclusive quote with Atlanta Black Star about filming.
“I’ll tell you a funny story,” he said. “They brought ‘Pac in, he was the only person they casted … They couldn’t cast nobody [because] it was when Hollywood wasn’t really trusted with hip hop, and people were like ‘Uhh I don’t know, is this for real?’ and [producers] were like “Yeah yeah, it’s real.”
Mr. Video Music Box was promoting his new documentary “You’re Watching Video Music Box” when he talked to Don Cartegena. He shared that he didn’t only capture the early moments of rap music on his WNYC-TV music video show, but he was also a producer for the film “Juice” that launched the careers of Khalil Kain (Raheem), Omar Epps (Q), Jermaine Hopkins (Steel) and the “California Love” rapper (Bishop).
“So they brought me in as a consultant to help bring everybody else in. So, I started calling Queen Latifah, people that I knew, Treach…” he continued.
Fat Joe added names, saying, “Jazzy Joyce, Red Alert… That legendary DJ scene.”
“…Right,” McDaniels said before jumping back into his story. “That whole scene, that’s me. I called all those people and said “Come, you know, it’s good.” They know Ralph is there, they know Ralph, we trust Ralph. It’s good.”
“…And, when we shot ‘Juice’… Andre Harrell was shooting [a movie which] Puff was working on… Puff got fired from that movie, and he said ‘Ralph, you working on ‘Juice,’ I want to be Bishop. I saw the script. Bishop, that’s me!’ ” McDaniels recalled.
“I was like, ‘But we got somebody to be Bishop already, the only one that’s casted is Tupac.’ [Diddy] was like, ‘Nah, I’m from Harlem Ralph, just think about it. Think about it. The script, that’s me.’ And I was like ‘That’s [going to be] hard. That’s [going to be] difficult.’ ”
Despite already casting Tupac, McDaniels still approached the other producers about considering Combs, but they weren’t sold.
“…And I remember going to the producers and just feeling it out… And [the producer] was like, ‘Absolutely not! Absolutely not! We already got ‘Pac, that’s the only person we have, and Puff just got fired from ‘[Strictly] Business’… and we know him. He can’t come on this set.’ So, I was like ‘All right, no problem.’”
McDaniels also shared an exclusive quote with Atlanta Black Star about his experience working with Tupac in this cult-classic role.
He said, “’Juice’ was Tupac’s first movie and from the time he started on the set, he became the character. His portrayal of Bishop is one of those cinematic moments that really meant something for rappers who wanted to become actors. He really was one of the first to really act on screen.”
The film directed by Ernest Dickerson celebrates its 30th anniversary in January 2022.
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