Director LT Hutton on The Making of “All Eyez On Me” and why now?
Q: (to Demetrius) I really enjoyed the Interscope scene when you got into it with the record execs…
A: Can you believe they tried to make me take that scene out?! (press gasps)
A: Because Pac– the thing is, a lot of times people are scared of educated young black men. And even with the control of the perception– they say, “perception is reality.” The biggest definition of perception is a visual. He who controls the visual controls perception. So they want to perceive us in a certain way, and to some of the people that are supposedly quote-unquote “in Tupac’s life” they didn’t like the fact that Tupac came across in that scene very intelligent. I said, “That’s what he’s supposed to do. You know? That’s why we’re making the movie about this guy. So they felt that they would be depicted as dummies, because “Oh, Tupac is just the smartest person in the world.” In this instance, he is. And that’s what it was supposed to be so, they tried to get me a little– they really tried to take that part out. That was one of my fights.
Q: One thing I noticed: it seems like it was very purposeful to showcase the different parts of Tupac’s personality. Where he only kind of got angry a few times, especially towards the beginning. And those few times led to bad instances where when something good happens, something bad always happens. How important was that for you to kind of show those specific points in his personality to portray?
A: In most interviews you’ll hear me, I’m pretty consistent and I’ll add a little color to it. With Tupac, people have this over personification of what they thought he was. If you like sports, if you don’t watch the whole game you can’t really say how good of a game it was if you’ve only seen the highlights. So with this film, you know, the trajectory was to give you insight to see how he came and arrived at these certain scenarios. He didn’t just walk in upset. There were things that triggered that. And like I often say, we criticize people for the choices they make, never understanding what we had to choose from. So, what I wanted to do was give you an understanding of the things that he had to choose from so now you can say, “Ohhh! Wow! That was a decision now that I know what he had to choose from.” You follow what I’m saying? So it was very important to flush out that Tupac had multiple sides and he wasn’t… If you ask your mother who you are, then you ask your friends who you are, and then you ask your boyfriend who you are you’re going to get three different stories. Which one is wrong? None of them! They’re all right. It’s just different complexions of you. So with Tupac, people tend to think he had one side and one button which was on 11 at all times, but that wasn’t going to get you close to Tupac so I wanted to give you an intimate look at him so you can really humanize him and understand he was a man also. He was a person. This guy was human and he’s liable to make certain mistakes. Not saying that we forgave him in the film. As you guys saw, he had to answer for everything he did. Whether it was good or bad. And he had to think about it. So, it was important to showcase that.
Q: You were very intentional with making a movie, going through interviews, even with the directors, producer, the actors you chose. What would you say was your one biggest challenge in telling Tupac’s story?
A: It was so many challenges. That’s what you got to understand. Just understand, this is Hollywood. And in Hollywood, we’re still talking about “The First Black.” In 2017, we’re still talking about “The First Black.” Let’s be clear on that. So, when looking at Kat Graham, Demetrius Shipp, when you see the portrayal on screen you would think that it was a shoe-in. I had to fight for both of them. I had a huge argument. I almost– when you hear the story: Well, LT was crazy and he was this, I just wasn’t going to let Hollywood make me do something that I didn’t believe in. And like I said. I’m fighting for “New Hollywood,” to give new opportunities and new situations. So, you know, Demetrius– I had had him all the long, the entire way, but he didn’t physically get hired on the job. Production was up and he was getting nervous and I told him, “I got you.” But, you know, he didn’t physically come on until… (Demetrius: November 18th) We started shooting December 17th. (press: Wow!) You see what I’m saying? On that day, people understand, you know, I turned over a few tables. Said I was deleting the project. I’m done. I’m packing up. I’m doing this somewhere else. I’m not going to do it with this particular company because this is the guy. I don’t want to see another… It got so bad to the point where, you know, no disrespect to Atlanta, but we had Tupac auditions coming in from Atlanta and it’s like, you know, there’s a certain dialect that you have to have. You know? Tupac couldn’t be like, ” Yo shawty, yeah…” It just wasn’t there, so I was like I’m not going to keep going back and forth. So like I said, with Kat, for me– Jada:She sounds like Jada. She looks like Jada. She’s got Jada’s bubbly spirit. She brings everything that we need. They still want to give me a usual suspect. And it’s like that’s not going to happen. So whatever I had to do– this was a vision I had since day 1. So you couldn’t share the vision and come in and be not self-serving, and you didn’t come to serve Tupac. And Tupac’s mission. And Tupac’s voice. And Tupac’s goal. If you came in thinking that it was going to be the “Tupac & I” story, or “I had a long walk with Tupac,” or “Tupac Was My Friend” story, it wasn’t going to happen. Certain things we had to fight for to keep that integrity and that’s pretty much what I did. So it wasn’t just one. I’m still fighting right now. You see me walking around here on the phone, and the movie comes out next week, [June 16] and I’m still screaming. (laughs)