Tupac made his big-screen acting debut 25 years ago portraying Bishop – a troubled Harlem teen whose turn towards violence tears apart his group of childhood friends – in the movie Juice. With the film’s anniversary edition out today, Rolling Stone has the exclusive clip of the movie’s defiant original ending.
The version of Juice that screened in theaters climaxes with a violent showdown between Tupac’s Bishop and Omar Epps’ character Q. After battling back and forth, Q knocks Bishop over the edge of the rooftop but grabs his hand to keep him from falling. It’s a short-lived victory: after an agonizing minute, Q, who is already suffering from a gunshot wound inflicted by Bishop, is unable to maintain his grip on his friend’s hand, and Bishop plunges to his death.
In the alternate ending, Bishop hears police sirens in the distance and chooses to let go of Q’s hand rather than climb back to safety and face a life of imprisonment.
“He hears the cops coming and he stops struggling … and he lets go,” says Juice co-writer and director Ernest R. Dickerson, reflecting on the scene. “”It was just an attitude that showed that Bishop wasn’t a punk. He was a force that really had to be reckoned with in the right way.”
In a 2012 interview with MTV, Naughty by Nature’s Treach – who made a cameo in Juice and contributed to the movie’s soundtrack – suggested that Tupac’s childhood helped prepare him for his breakout acting role. “He grew up learning different lessons on the streets that not even I had known about,” Treach said. “That’s what made him be able to get into that character like that and make that character seem so real, because he had his own life experiences that made him phenomenal at bringing that out through the music and through the film.”
The 25th anniversary edition of Juice also contains new interviews with Dickerson, producer David Heyman and stars Epps, Khalil Kain and Jermaine Hopkins alongside previously unreleased footage from the set.