One of the enduring digs against Tupac is that he started to embody the self-destructive chaos of Bishop, who he played in Juice, until his own demise. Many of his other performances, while still strong, were overshadowed by his persona. He was always playing someone similar to himself. Gridlock’d, one of Pac’s final roles, was his first true deviation.
As Spoon, an aptly-titled heroin addict, he’s one-third of a struggling, drug-addled musician trio along with Stretch (Tim Roth) and Cookie (Thandie Newton). He’s also the least aimless; it’s at his suggestion that they stumble along the path to recovery. Throughout, Tupac is brilliant, funny, touching, and heartbreaking, painting Spoon as a tragic glimmer of hope beset by an otherwise hopeless situation.
In an interview on the set of Gridlock’d, Tupac said he was drawn to Spoon because he wanted to pursue different types of roles. These days, the movie is a difficult watch, because Gridlock’d—arguably his most powerful performance—is a glimpse of Tupac's true potential as an actor. —Julian Kimble