Cory Hardrict Discusses Playing Haitian Jack In Tupac Biopic, 'All Eyez On Me'
This is a glimpse of Haitian Jack's story through Cory Hardrict's eyes.
Jacques “Haitian Jack” Agnant was a force to be reckoned with in New York's hip-hop club scene back in the 90s. There were beautiful women, bottles of champagne and endless late nights. Amid the luxurious lifestyle, celebrities remained in the mix. This high profile life appealed to a young Tupac Shakur when he was first introduced to Jack at a Manhattan club called The Octagon. Jack was surrounded by a bevy of pretty girls and celebrities, and Pac was intrigued. In 1993, the West Coast rapper was working on Above The Rim and was fresh on the New York scene. Eventually, their encounter would become a close-knit friendship that mirrored more of a brotherhood than just a small acquaintance.
“We were like brothers and a lot of people don’t realize I did a lot of for Pac. I didn’t do anything against Pac, I did a lot for him. I tried to mentor him because I know the streets a lot better than he does and I know how the law goes. But hanging out with him was a lot of fun,” Jack told Hip Hop Wired back in 2015. “We laughed, we joked a lot, he loved the respect and recognition I got in New York and I think he wanted that same respect. Everywhere I went to in Brooklyn were really vicious hoods.”
But amid their brotherhood, later came trouble. In November 1993, Tupac was indicted on charges of rape. Allegedly, he gang-raped 19-year-old Ayanna Jackson, along with Haitian Jack, Tupac’s road manager Charles “Man Man” Fuller, and another unidentified man at the rapper’s Le Parker Meridien Hotel suite, VICE reports. During his trial, Tupac was shot at New York’s Quad Studios and robbed of $40,000 worth of jewelry. He was later sentenced to 1 ½ to 4 ½ years in prison for sexual assault. While incarcerated, he married his longtime girlfriend Keisha Morris, yet the marriage was eventually annulled. According to The New York Times, he was set free in October 1995 on $1.4 million bail, paid by his then-new recording label, Death Row Records.
But the rift between Jack and Tupac surged because Jack was reportedly given a separate trial, and this prompted Pac to think Jack was a snitch and an informant of the FBI. The rapper laid his grudge for Jack on wax with 1996’s The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory on “Against All Odds.”
“I heard he was light skinned, stocky, with a Haitian accent/Jewelry, fast cars and he's known for flashin'/Listen while I take you back and lace this rap/A real live tale about a snitch named Haitian Jack/Knew he was workin' for the feds/Same crime, different trials, ni**a, picture what he said,” Pac brashly rapped.
Still, Jack sticks to the story that he was not responsible for Tupac’s incarceration. According to him, here’s the real story: “Well it was never a rape case, it was a sexual assault [case]. The thing is Pac did nothing to that girl, neither did I and neither did anyone else. That was something where she felt Pac didn’t have any respect for her and didn’t treat her like a lady but how can you expect respect when you just gave him head in front of 312 people at Nell’s [Nightclub]. She was asking for something she lost the moment she met him,” he told the news site.
“It soured because his attorneys were putting s**t in his ears," he continued. "Everything about the case is public knowledge; pull it up! Then you’ll see what role I played and what role his lawyers played and you’ll see I had no role in anything. The only good thing that happened out of that case is that there were guns in the [hotel] room and the room was not registered in my name because I came to see him at the hotel. That’s how my lawyers severed my case from his because they were being charged with guns and I wasn’t."
Beneath the reports, court documents and he say-she say banter from the public—there’s now a visual representation of what happened that night, and what killed Jack and Pac’s relationship with the latter's biopic, All Eyez On Me.
Cory Hardrict, known for his bad boy sensibilities on projects like Brotherly Love does a great job at transforming himself into Jack. The allure of his persona can swallow any wide-eyed new rapper into the candy crushing luxuries of hip-hop’s wealthy, flashy lifestyle. Onscreen, the pull is well executed. VIBE recently spoke with Hardrict about his role as Haitian Jack, and what he revealed to him about his relationship with Pac.
VIBE: How did you feel about playing Haitian Jack, being that he has a reputation for being infamous like Suge Knight?
Cory Hardrict: It was a part of Pac’s life, and a lot of controversial things were discussed on what he [Jack] was a part of. But what I can say from talking to the actual real Jack over the phone, and doing my research on the guy is that to me he was right there telling Pac the ins and outs of New York. He gave him his first Rolex, he taught him how to dress—that’s what he was telling me. He had a lot of great stories, so I took it for what it was, and I added what I added to it. I didn’t really get into what I heard about him because I wasn’t there. I can just portray a character for what it is today.
What was the most surprising thing you’ve learned about Haitian Jack and Tupac through your research?
He said that Tupac was a great guy and a revolutionary. He also said he knew his parents. Also, that he was kind of like a sponge wanting to learn about New York because he was new in the New York scene. Jack would definitely be a protector and a provider for him on that coast and made sure that he was safe and out of harm’s way. It was cool to actually talk to somebody who had interactions with Tupac during the time that he was alive.
Did Haitian Jack address any of the controversies behind Tupac’s alleged rape case when he was incarcerated?
No, he didn’t. But when I did speak with him, he said Pac didn't have to rape any girls; they were already in love with Pac anyway. He didn’t take anything from him. That was it, everybody knows Pac didn't rape anybody. They just wanted to put a black man who was a legend at the time and still is to this day, they just wanted to put him down. Look at him; that’s Tupac, he was black Jesus to a generation and to the culture. At least he was to me, so he didn't have to rape anybody. I believe that was negative all the way.
How do you think Haitian Jack and Tupac would receive the film?
When we were shooting the film, everything looked organic; it looked real. It felt like an angelic moment on set. It didn’t look like it was some thrown together piece just trying to capitalize off of Tupac, and his stories. It was a well thought out effort from everybody involved. From the studio to production to Benny to the direction to the acting, so I believe they would be proud. And Demetrius Shipp embodied Tupac to the fullest. He did an amazing job, and it was great interacting with him, and working with him.
How did you channel Haitian Jack's personality?
I’m used to playing a villain type guy. I have that edge when it comes on screen, so that’s second nature for me to play those. But at the same time speaking with Haitian Jack was very pivotal for me. Also, I come from Chicago's inner city. I like to portray that realness. It’s something that I grew up seeing around me, and I feel like that’s what the world needs to see. I gravitate to those characters very well, which derived from where I’m from and my life experiences and what I went through. I use it, and I channel it all onscreen and leave it all there.
What is your first memory of Tupac?
I was first introduced to Tupac in junior high school. I just remember seeing the bandana on his head with the tattoos. I remember “Dear Mama” in 1996. I lost my mom in '96, and I will never forget that song came on riding to her funeral. I just felt something with that song and my mom is going to be connected with me for the rest of my life. When I hear that song it always brings me back to '96 and it will always hold a place in my heart. It’s funny how some things come full circle in life. I would never have thought that I would be in a Tupac movie, or that a movie would even be made.
What do you hope the message of the movie will be?
I would say Tupac loved everybody, and that he spoke with his heart, and he spoke with the truth. And whatever people can get from the truth that’s what Tupac was. He was fearless, he is an icon and a legend. I want people to take away from this movie that they should go after their dreams, and honor a legend whose music is timeless forever. Tupac lives on. Take that and plan that for your life and go after yours. Rest in peace to his mom as well. I know she was involved in the process before her passing. Hopefully, we honor both of them well.