“That’s next. We’re starting this summer. I’m so excited,” Hughes told Variety on Tuesday night at the premiere of his upcoming FX docuseries “Dear Mama,” which chronicles the lives of Tupac Shakur and his mother, Afeni Shakur.
Hughes — an Emmy and Peabody award nominee whose filmography includes “Menace II Society,” “Dead Presidents,” “The Book of Eli” and “The Defiant Ones” — will direct the yet-to-be-titled Snoop Dogg biopic. Announced in November, the Universal movie is the first film produced by Death Row Pictures, following Snoop’s acquisition of Death Row Records in 2022.
“He surprised me with that biopic,” Hughes said of signing on to the film, which is billed as the “definitive” take on Snoop’s life and career. “I can’t wait to go back to the hood, and do a hood story that becomes inspirational. That’s what I get from him.”
Turning around to look at the rapper, who was posing for photographers outside the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles with his wife Shante Broadus and their sons Cordell and Corde, Hughes continued: “Who’s more beloved than him in the world? He’s got such a special energy and I can’t wait to do it.”
But who’s playing Snoop? “That’s the million dollar question,” Hughes added, joking, “It’ll probably be a Brit.”
Snoop also shared his excitement for the film, with a script in the works from Joe Robert Cole, co-writer of both “Black Panther” films.
“With the biopic, I’m looking forward to people seeing this right here, this love story,” Snoop said, hugging his wife Broadus closely. “To see the love that I have for my music career. The people that have inspired me to love. Just watching it all unfold. Coming to a theater near you.”
For now, both Hughes and Snoop are focused on “Dear Mama,” which underlines how Afeni Shakur’s experiences as a Black Panther Party leader and activist intertwined with her son Tupac’s path to becoming one of the most influential rappers of all time. Snoop participated in the documentary, which debuts Friday on FX, sitting for a series of interviews reminiscing about his relationship with Tupac, who was his close friend and collaborator until his 1996 murder. Tupac was 25 years old.
“It meant the world because I had a relationship with both of them,” Snoop said of sitting down with Hughes for the project. “To be able to give my input on the type of people they were and what they meant to me, how they should be celebrated. It’s a beautiful thing to be exposing this to the limelight. To keep his spirit alive. To keep her spirit alive. That’s what this is all about.”
In a addition to Snoop, the project also features interviews with close family and friends — including Glo Cox (Afeni’s sister and Tupac’s aunt), Mutulu (Tupac’s stepfather) and fellow Black Panther leader Jamal Joseph (who executive produced the project). The doc also includes Tupac’s musical contemporaries like Dr. Dre, Digital Underground’s Money-B and Chopmaster J.
For Hughes, the project presented an opportunity to come to terms with his own complicated relationship with Tupac, which began in the early ’90s when he and his brother Albert directed the music video for the rapper’s breakout song “Trapped” and fractured after an altercation in 1994.
“I didn’t understand Tupac the way I wanted to understand Tupac,” Hughes said, explaining how he approached the production given his personal ties. “I was raised by a feminist, activist, single mother, so I said, ‘If I can find a way, through his mother’s narrative, to discover him, and make it a dual narrative, then I’m in.’ And the estate agreed, the family agreed and the rest is history.”
The five-part docuseries debuted at TIFF and its first two episodes officially launch on FX on Friday, April 21, streaming next day on Hulu.