Tupac Shakur, Khalil Kain: Newcomers squeeze drama from `Juice’

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
January 19, 1992

When an actor plays his role so well that his buddy’s mom refuses to speak to him, he knows he has done his job.

“After the screening of `Juice,’ my mother couldn’t even look at Tupac (Shakur, who plays Bishop), much less speak to him,” said Khalil Kain, whose character, Raheem, has a tragic falling out with his friend Bishop.   “Even though that’s an irrational feeling, I certainly understand it. Certain scenes between Bishop and  Raheem were intense even for me, and I knew how everything was going to turn out.”

The two relatively unknown actors star in Ernest Dickerson’s urban coming-of-age story, “Juice,” currently playing at local theaters. On a press junket promoting the film, they parked themselves in the living room of their hotel suite and watched videos by Public Enemy, Queen Latifah (who has a small role in the film) and Digital Underground, the rap group that Shakur  plays in. Shakur’s bandmates haven’t seen his performance yet, and he’s a little wary of being in the same room with them when they see it.

“I think I did well, but everything was hard for me and I know (the rest of the group) will tell me I stunk just to bother me,” said Shakur, 20, who like the other three stars had to audition for two roles before being told which character he would play. “I knew that if I messed up, my part would be over. Getting the role was rough for me. The last time I had taken an acting class was four years ago when I was in high school.”

Because the film features a predominantly black cast and contains some chillingly violent scenes, Kain worried that the movie would be sed by some critics as a “gang film.”

“I think it’s amazing that people can take a movie like `Terminator 2′ and accept the gratuitous violence without thinking twice about it,” said Kain, 27. “But you present a real slice of life and people get frightened of the message. I don’t think there’s anyone who could see `Juice’ and say that it condones anything but friendship and anti-violence.”

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