Juice actor, Jermaine Hopkins, recently sat down with VladTv where he spoke about getting the role in the movie and battling Tupac in the auditions.
Jermaine Hopkins played the role of one of the four leading characters in Juice, Eric ‘Steel’ Thurman. The 1992 movie explores the lives of four black youths, growing up together in Harlem. To gain Respect and power, the friends rob a convenience store but things don’t go as planned.
In what was Tupac’s first starring role, playing the character Bishop, the movie is now a certified hood classic. Although Tupac had just released his debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, Jermaine didn’t know that Tupac was a rapper!
It was in the audition waiting room where Jermaine, into rap himself, realized he wasn’t any match for Tupac. Reminiscing back to the auditions, Jermaine remembers gelling with Tupac, even battling him whilst waiting. He said; “We was in there freestyling, rapping and ‘Pac would just kill it. That’s when I realized all the rapping I thought I could do, I cannot do!”
He goes onto tell the story of when he and Tupac went to a party after filming. At that time, the seventeen-year-old Jermaine was just coming into adulthood. Once at the bar, ‘Pac asks his co-star what he’s drinking. Not knowing what they sell, he asks for an Olde English! ‘Pac said; “Man, they ain’t got that sh** in here, next you’re going to ask for a damn ham sandwich!”
Jermaine Plays Prank On Tupac
In another part of the VladTv interview, Jermaine talks telling Tupac that he was cut from the movie!
With Tupac having an incredible work ethic, he found it hard to wait around for other people on set. Jermaine tells of one particular time Tupac left the set. Catching up with ‘Pac later that day whilst staying at the same hotel, he couldn’t resist winding ‘Pac up.
He told ‘Pac that he was out of the script and rubbed it in saying that he’s learning extra lines! The next day, ‘Pac was already on set and found out that he was pranked, he saw Jermaine walking towards the set. ‘Pac ran up and jokingly started swinging on him.
“We peaced it out, it wasn’t never no real beef, he was more so happy that it was bull****! We were walking up the street together and that’s when he broke down to me.”
Tupac told Jermaine of the upset as he lost one of his partners the day before. That conversation made him realize that Tupac’s lyrics reflected a part of his lifestyle.
Tupac’s Raw Emotion
In another part of the interview, Jermaine talks about never reading the whole script for his character in Juice. Being a young actor at the time, he never understood the concept of not filming in order. Looking back, Jermaine calls it “a blessing” that he was able to pull the character off so well.
A number of people have said that after the completion of Juice, Tupac stayed in character as Bishop, an angry thug, who was unapproachable. Jermaine disagrees and thinks that after the movie came out, the public got more familiar with who ‘Pac really was.
Furthermore, Jermaine tells of the time that the main characters were taken to dinner to see who gelled best. When it was time to leave, Jermaine along with Tupac and David Heyman, the movie’s producer, all left in a cab together. At the time, cab’s weren’t stopping for black people. Tupac went off on the driver, passionately debating the subject. It was this passion that Tupac shown in front of the producer, that makes Jermaine think that ‘Pac clinched the role.
Work Ethic & Loyalty
Furthermore, Jermaine talks about Tupac’s work ethic and believes it helped his own acting skills. He mentions that ‘Pac would finish on the set and go straight to the studio, after filming for hours. It’s not the first time that a former colleague or friend of ‘Pac’s has commented on his work rate. Jermaine added, “I never met anyone in the business period with a work ethic like ‘Pac.”
When Jermaine reflects on Tupac signing with Death Row Records, he tells of feeling uninvited on seeing ‘Pac. He took as if Tupac was trying to get out of a situation and didn’t want to invite anyone else into it.
With the incident that happened at the MGM in Las Vegas on the evening of September 7th 1996, people questioned why Tupac would get involved in the beef that his entourage had. But Jermaine understood why Tupac felt like he had to, explaining that Death Row had just bailed him out of prison. Having been to prison a number of times, Jermaine said, “from a street standpoint, you spend a million dollars and come get me out of jail, your beef is my beef. Your problems are my problems, we ride or die.”
Although Tupac died at age twenty-five, he was inspirational to many which Jermaine recognized the moment that he passed away. When speaking about his impact, Jermaine couldn’t hide his emotions, stating that ‘Pac was the next Malcolm X. He went onto say that if he was still here that his voice would resonate with this generation.