Even though we will always associate the 90’s film Juice as being a classic, there was much untold that went down behind the scenes in order to really make the film happen. The film was originally rejected in 1984 when Gerard Brown and Ernest Dickerson —Spike Lee‘s cinematographer for Do The Right Thing in 1989. Because doors started opening for Dickerson post Lee’s film, producer David Heyman expressed “None of us would be here if it wasn’t for Spike. He started it all with Do the Right Thing(1989).” He not only stated that because Juice was finally accepted enough to be created, but because other films that fell in around the same time– like the stories of Boyz In The Hood and New Jack City– wouldn’t have had the opportunity of being told without Lee creating that foundation.
Luckily being created at the “right time”, the film was able to start shooting for a very busy six weeks. With a crazy schedule, there were mostly ups, but some downs as well. During the scene where Death Express is kicking the life out of Tupac Shakur‘s character “Bishop,” the rapper was actually pretty bruised on the ground and yelled
”Look, I’m not getting paid enough for this shit! This padding don’t do jack,” he yells. ”I want more money! And why does the biggest muthaf—a have to be beating me?”
After Juice‘s prop master Kevin Ladson rushed over to give Tupac more padding, Dickerson informed Tupac that he was doing great but that they needed just a couple more tries to get an authentic scene–ouch.
This New York based film consisted of not only the legendary Tupac, but also Khalil Kain –aka everyone’s crush “Raheem”who got noticed weeks before filming bartending at a night club. Omar Epps also starred as “Q” or “GQ” and Jermaine Hopkins as “Steel.” During day 18 of shooting the classic, Khalil happily expressed ”It’s about time there’s work for us.” As the creative process continued, Paramount decided to change their poster by airbrushing the gun–not because they feared violence but for creative reasons. They even offered to pick up the cost of security in some theaters.
With “Juice” being a slang term of respect and power, it was still just as much of a real life goal for the cast as it was for the actual characters. Even though the film’s intent was to promote anti-violence, Dickerson felt like it was necessary to document the “juice” of the streets in it’s rawest form, even if that required a little bloodshed. Dickerson explains how essential it was for the film to document “authenticity” aka the streets expressing:
”This is about the perils of growing up black in the ghetto. If I can accurately show that without the Hollywood wrappings, then I’ve done what I set out to do.”
Not only will this film remain to be a classic but we will also get to peep some of the behind scenes action of Tupac in the upcoming summer film, All Eyez on Me. For now, peep some of the throwback footage of the actual film Juice from over 20 years ago featuring all the cast-mates below!