Tupac and Suge were like two fires, “When you add both of those things together it burns brighter but it can burn down more stuff down!”
Dominic Santana is holding it down in the new film “All Eyez On Me” directed by Benny Boom, about the life of slain rapper Tupac Shakur. He’s playing the infamous Suge Knight, the former CEO of Death Row Records whose propensity for violent exchange is something that has become a significant part of his growing legacy.
Santana knew that in landing the role, the pressure to “get it right” would only grow. At the time of filing the early box-office receipts, reported by Deadline, have recorded an impressive single day opening at $3.1 million. To this end it’s a very safe bet to say that the future is bright for Santana. A native of Fayetteville, North Carolina, he landed his role in the movie the old fashioned way, he auditioned, a lot.
Dismiss Santana’s massive height and well portioned frame. That’s not what makes him fit like a glove into the role of Suge. It goes much further and deeper than just having the physical build. The actor or shall I say, the artist—Santana was able to breathe life and dare I say it, shades of humanity into the role and thus shaped “All Eyez On Me” Suge Knight into a three dimensional character.
“There’s always pressure when you’re playing somebody who’s alive and that people can reference just from their own personality,” said Santana, “but I was confident that I could handle the role. I understand the thinking process of powerful men. Entrepreneurial-minded men with courage and drive. I am that type myself.”
Imagine—if you dare—the broad smile on the late Tupac Shakur’s face knowing that 25 years after his unsolved murder, that he’s still kicking up controversy. RIP
Here is what Dominic Santana (Suge Knight) had to share about being a part of “All Eyez On Me.”
Q: Do you think the fans will respond to Benny Boom’s version of Tupac’s life?
Dominic Santana: Yes, but let me answer it this way. Legacy is important to all of us, right? Audiences, they are going to be even tougher than the critics. There are straight up fans. A lot of the fans, they’ré just going to weigh in on a lot of things like how I played Suge Knight …did I actually get that relationship between him and [Tupac] Pac right, you know?
Q: Did you have to do anything to fill out Suge Knight’s shoes — literally?
DS: (laughter) Did I, what? Yes. Yes, I did. I was not big enough. I had to put on about another 30 pounds, which sounds like a lot, but my frame dosen’t cover as much as you would think.
Q: How tall are you?
DS: (laughing, he stands up) I am 6’5.
Q: Oh. You were a fit and trim 6’5. I am following you now.
DS: I had to put on those extra [Suge Knight] pounds to get the belly, stuff like that. Come on, that was the fun part. I got to eat pizza and ice cream, and stuff, for the role!”
To answer the other part of the question, as an actor, I absolutely did my regular due diligence; pulling up interviews and making it my business to find obscure interviews that you don’t see often. You understand? To really study Suge’s face and his mannerisms along with his dialect and how he said the kind of slang words he uses, things he doesn’t’t use, how he walks, [stands], all of that! All of that. All of that is important to me, to the film, for the director and the fan and ultimately a sign of respect for everyone depicted in the story and most important for—Tupac [Shakur].
Q: According to the press notes, there were several key advisors including producer L.T. Hutton, who told me that there was a book complied with the facts for all to review if needed. Weigh in, please.
DS: Correct. Yes. We most definitely had people involved that were at Death Row that knew or still know Suge Knight and of course knew and worked with Tupac. As you mentioned, [producer] L.T. Hutton started out at Death Row and he spent years there with those guys. So that’s how he knew [Tupac] how he knows Suge, and all the others. He had the Outlawz there, E.D.I. and Noble, Daz Dillinger was on set at times, and others. We even had somebody in wardrobe who actually worked at Death Row, doing wardrobe for their music videos, and she was the person that had to put me in my suits and see if it’s looking right, if I’m looking like Suge. Again, I speak to the fans our our responsibility to keep it honest.
Q: Did Tupac and Suge have a real relationship or was it strictly business? Weigh in. Why did they have such issues during their time together, especially toward the end?
DS: Well. It’s like fire. If you want to be fire just know that you are going to destroy things on one side and you’re going to be beautiful to [some] people on the other side. There is no way around that, you know what I mean? When you add both of those things together, it burns brighter but it can burn down more stuff and it can be more beautiful to others. And that’s what they were, they were two fires, they recognized that in each other. ‘Oh, your fire too?’ ‘ I have a running partner, [we] can go do all this crazy stuff, make history and make money and enjoy ourselves.’ That’s what they had in each other. It was a brotherhood. People who were close to them will tell you that. They don’t talk about Suge and ‘Pac like ‘Yeah Suge hated ‘Pac or they started beefing and stuff.’ You hear about a brotherhood and I think that’s what blows your mind. Sitting there with people that really knew them and ran with them. They don’t talk like the media does and the conspiracy theorists out there do. They don’t talk nothing like that. And that blew my mind … The image we had from the media over the years has you thinking that they hated each other at the end. Yes. They had skiffs. We we all do. They were like brothers. Anyone who has siblings that say that they never had any kind of beef with your sibling(s), you’re a damn lie or you need to go and teach the rest the world lessons on how to never rustle your siblings’ feathers.
Anytime you mix family and business and friends with money 90% of the time something will go wrong. Suge was always about his business. But they were brothers.
Q: You talked about legacy in the beginning of our conversation. Is that something you actually think about?
DS: Absolutely. I am very mindful of the kind of legacy that I will leave behind especially for my son, I want it to be impactful. I want him to look back and see that his father left a body of work, that was very meaningful.
At the time of filing early box office receipts reported in Deadline have recorded an impressive opening: Tupac Shakur biopic “All Eyez on Me” opened impressively with $3.1 million on Thursday night at 2,000 sites in North America, topping Disney-Pixar’s “Cars 3,” which raced to $2.8 million.