Adrien Brody Said His Bond With Tupac Shakur Started With a ‘Sleight of Hand’

The 1990s were full of music and movies few may remember. The era birthed films jam-packed with celebrities like actor Adrien Brody and rapper Tupac Shakur. Such is the case with the 1996 crime drama, Bullet. On the set, the two developed a friendship that Brody still reflects on — especially since Bullet dropped one month after Shakur’s death.

‘Bullet’ brought a lot of big names together, but the movie flopped

Mickey Rourke and Tupac Shakur in 'Bullet'
Mickey Rourke and Tupac Shakur in ‘Bullet’ | Richard Blanshard/Getty Images

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If you’ve never heard of Bullet, it’s likely because the film didn’t get the greatest of critical acclaim. Still, the release — just a month after Shakur’s murder — was not lost on the project’s stars.

The story follows Butch Stein, played by Mickey Rourke, who’s fresh out of prison and back on the Brooklyn streets. When Butch steals from a drug pusher, Tank (Shakur), an all-out war ensues. Add in a rated-R script, Brody as one of Butch’s brothers, and you have one of the few early Julien Temple projects that aren’t a music documentary.

Having followed the likes of Sex Pistols, The Clash, Tom Petty, and more, and it’s clear Temple’s musical background influences Bullet. Donnie Wahlberg appears in the film, as well as an early shot of Peter Dinklage in his pre-Game of Thrones days.

Bullet was shot in New York City, mostly in Brooklyn, not too far from Brody’s hometown of Queens. With the star power involved on a low-budget project, close-knit ties were bound to happen.

Brody and Shakur bonded while filming ‘Bullet’

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While filming in 1994, Brody and Shakur struck up a friendship. The Pianist actor, who dabbles in hip hop, told Daily Beast in 2017 about their relationship.

“We hung out, and it was exciting,” he said. “He was a dope artist, talented as an actor, and he was fun. I was younger than he was, but he was so cool. I went ‘bombing’ with Pac.”

He continued, “I’ve been making hip-hop beats for many years. I think people just can’t comprehend that the guy who does The Pianist also makes dope hip-hop, and the guy who does The Pianist does Predators,” he said. “It’s sleight of hand…but that’s what it should be.”

‘Bullet’ co-star Mickey Rourke

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Brody isn’t the only one who befriended Shakur at the height of his fame. Rourke, who played the lead in Bullet, will defend any badmouthing of the rapper to this day.

In 2017, radio personality, Funk Master Flex went viral after appearing on Instagram Live. There, he claimed Shakur shot himself in the leg, not by enemies, which triggered Rourke’s defense response.

The actor also claims he was at the hospital with Shakur’s mother when he was admitted and so close to the rapper, he knew exactly where he was shot. In response to Fun Master Flex, Rourke had this to say, per TMZ:

“Tell him come see me to my face if you want to talk about my brother when he’s not here. You can tell any MF on the planet he got his s**t to talk about Tupac come look me up. Come look me up at any MF time. If you want to talk about Tupac when he ain’t here come look my ass up. IDGAF about who defended him, he was one MF good dude, and if anyone wants to talk sh-t about him come talk to Mickey Rourke to my face.”


Clearly everyone on the set of Bullet felt the same way about Shakur. Still, Brody’s “sleight of hand” reference to hip-hop only cements why his and Shakur’s bond was unbreakable.