Tupac Shakur’s role as Bishop in the classic 1992 film Juice is regarded as one of the greatest and most acclaimed acting performances by a rapper to date. Yet, according to Video Music Box founder and cultural historian Ralph “Uncle Ralph” McDaniels, if it was up to Diddy, who was interested in taking on the role of Bishop, the Bad Boy mogul would’ve been casted as the trigger-happy hoodlum instead. The only issue, according to McDaniels, was that Pac was already up for the role. But apparently, that didn’t deter Diddy from attempting to pull a switcheroo.
“When we shot Juice… Andre Harrell was shooting [a movie that] Puff was working on,” McDaniels recalled during an Instagram Live conversation with rapper Fat Joe. “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!’ And 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.’”
Ultimately, Diddy would never get the opportunity to audition for the role due to his polarizing reputation and history of being fired from film productions. “I remember going to the producers and just feeling it out,” McDaniels says of the film’s producers’ openness to Diddy getting a crack at the role. “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. ‘Alright, no problem.'”
Tupac’s leading role in Juice would jumpstart his career as an actor, as he would land high-profile roles in the films Poetic Justice, Above the Rim, Bullet, Gridlock’d, and Gang Related, in addition to an appearance on A Different World opposite of childhood friend Jada Pinkett Smith. For his part, aside from theatrical scenes in music videos, most of Diddy’s acting has come in spurts. His two major credits include the lead role in a 2008 television adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun, and a tyrannical record executive somewhat based on his own persona in Get Him to the Greek (2010).
See Fat Joe and McDaniel’s conversation about Tupac, Diddy, and Juice the 36:13 mark of the full interview below.