The tragic murders of Tupac “2Pac” Shakur and Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace still mystifies fans and observers some two decades later. USA Network’s Unsolved: The Murders of 2Pac & The Notorious B.I.G. debut this evening, hoping to add new insight into the baffling losses.
Billboard spoke with the creator of the series and cast members in a lengthy profile that goes behind the scenes of the creation of Unsolved and what they all hope viewers gain from the 10-part miniseries. With Hollywood names such as Josh Duhamel, Jimmi Simpson, and Bokeem Woodbine leading the veteran end of the cast, newcomer Wavvy Jonez as Biggie and rising actor Marcc Rose as 2Pac both carry the weight of playing the iconic figures at the center of the story.
As we’ve seen in recent hip-hop biopics like All Eyez on Me and Straight Outta Compton, intense public scrutiny comes with reviving such beloved artists as Shakur and Wallace. That pressure was magnified with Unsolved’s examination of the LAPD’s often maligned investigations that failed to provide any resolution and is something the entire production has been well aware of since the start.
“I think everybody on this show from top to bottom really just wants this to feel authentic and do right by Tupac, Biggie, their families and, by the way, the police department,” said Duhamel. “You know, they’re not as bad as they were made out to be and these detectives gave everything they had to bring justice to the families of Tupac and Biggie. And that’s really what I think the objective of the show is.”
Actors Rose and Jonez were studious in their approaches to embody these legends, watching endless hours of interviews and appearances online, eating the foods they ate, reading the books they read and wearing the cologne they wore. Rose, 25 — who came to the project after playing Shakur in a small role in Straight Outta Compton — got onset advise from Shakur’s brother, Mopreme Shakur, and picked up smoking cigarettes to better imitate Shakur’s raspy voice. Jonez would go back to his apartment and just live in his Biggie role.
HipHopWired was fortunate to visit the set of Unsolved last year during filming, speaking with some of the actors and director Anthony Hemingway, who all were gracious with their time and welcomed the challenge of telling such a difficult story.
The up-close view of the studio set and the magic of filmmaking happening before us and other members of the press was an impressive showing of creative energy.
Unsolved airs tonight on USA at 10PM ET/9PM CST.