Steve McQueen is set to direct a new documentary exploring the life of Tupac Shakur, after the late rapper’s estate agreed a deal to bring his story to the big screen. McQueen, whose 12 Years a Slave won the 2014 Oscar for best picture, will work with producers including Jayson Jackson and White Horse Pictures’ Nigel Sinclair on the movie, which doesn’t yet have a set title.
Shakur Estate trustee Tom Whalley will also produce, but there’s an even more direct family connection, too. Tupac’s aunt, Gloria Cox, will serve as executive producer, and the deal was struck with Amaru Entertainment — the company set up by Tupac’s late mother, Afeni. Afeni Shakur had reportedly attempted to get a documentary about her son off the ground until her death in 2016.
McQueen’s pedigree means that the planned movie wasn’t likely to be a pure puff piece anyway, but Shakur’s family also say they don’t want to misrepresent the rapper, who died at 25. “Our goal has always been to tell the true story, which has never been done before in such a complete way,” his aunt told Rolling Stone. “My sister always said to me, ‘We are not in the business of defending Tupac. Our job is to allow him to be seen in the most complete way, so his actions, his choices, and his words will allow him to speak for himself.’ I believe this film will do exactly that.”
In a statement, McQueen said that he was “extremely moved and excited to be exploring the life and times of this legendary artist.” The director attended NYU film school as a younger man, and says the experience gave him a connection to both the growing world of hip-hop, and Shakur himself through a mutual friend. “Few, if any shined brighter than Tupac Shakur,” McQueen said. “I look forward to working closely with his family to tell the unvarnished story of this talented man.”