The friendship between actress Jada Pinkett Smith and rapper Tupac Shakur is one that dates back to the 1980s. It’s a friendship that’s also being thrust into the spotlight with the release of All Eyez on Me, the new biopic based on Tupac’s life.
As with every feature film, there will be alterations to the real story and changes made to better convey things in a dramatic light. But given Pinkett Smith’s less-than-stellar reaction to the film, which is currently in theaters, we decided it’d be best to take a look back at their real-life friendship.
Here are 5 fast facts you need to know about Jada Pinkett Smith and Tupac.
1. They Met at the Baltimore School for the Arts In Maryland
Pinkett Smith and Tupac first met at the Baltimore School for the Arts in Maryland. “It was the first day and he came over to me and introduced himself,” she recalled in a 2009 interview, “And in high school ‘Pac was a little funny looking. But as soon as he approached me he was like a magnet. Once you paid attention to him he kind of sucked you in, and we hit it off from that moment on.”
Watch a home video of the two performing the song “Parents Just Don’t Understand” below. The timestamp on the video says 1986, but this is not possible, as “Paren’t Just Don’t Understand” wasn’t released until 1988.
Pinkett Smith added that Tupac was one of her “best friends” and that “he was like a brother” to her growing up.
Tupac majored in poetry and jazz, while Pinkett Smith majored in dance and theater. Both graduated in 1989. When asked about whether they knew they become successful in their careers, she explained: “I don’t think either one of us thought we would have made it in the way that we did, but we knew we were gonna do something.”
Pinkett Smith also spoke on the support that Tupac gave her as she pursued a career in acting: “He would tell me all the time, Jada you’re gonna be a star. You got it, you just got it.”
2. They Attempted a Romance, But They Had No ‘Physical Chemistry’
In a 2015 interview with Howard Stern, Pinkett Smith revealed that while their relationship was close, it never turned romantic. “You know it’s funny, it’s so funny because now being older, I have more of an understanding of what that was between us,” she told Stern. “When you have two young people that have very strong feelings, but there was no physical chemistry between us at all, and it wasn’t even just for me– it was him too.”
Pinkett Smith added that “There was a time when I was like ‘Just kiss me! Let’s see how this goes,’ and when I tell you it had to be the most disgusting kiss for both of us.” As to why she believed a romance never blossomed, the actress said “We might have killed each other because we were both so passionate and we love deeply.”
Tupac discusses his love for women in the interview below. Skip to the 1:25 mark to hear him discuss Pinkett Smith.
3. Their Relationship Grew Strained As Both Saw Success
In that same Howard Stern interview, Pinkett Smith spoke on the way that her relationship with Tupac changed after they graduated. Both saw success fairly quickly afterwards, with Pinkett Smith appearing in the television series True Colors (1990-92) and the film Menace II Society (1993), while Tupac broke through with the Oakland group Digital Underground, before pursuing a solo career.
“He felt as though I had changed,” she explained, “I’d gone Hollywood. I’d gone soft. And looking back now, I totally understand where ‘Pac was at the time. It was a mentality he started to come out of before he was murdered.” The actress referred to this time in Tupac’s life as a “destructive direction.”
4. Tupac Dedicated A Poem to Pinkett Smith
While it may have been strained over the years, there was little denying the strength of Pinkett Smith and Tupac’s friendship. In fact, the rapper even penned a poem about her in his posthumous book The Rose That Grew From the Concrete. Read the full poem below:
U R the omega of my heart
The foundation 4 my conception of Love
When I think of what a black woman should be
Its u that I First think of
U will never fully understand
How Deeply my Heart Feels 4 u
I worry that we’ll grow apart
And I’ll end up losing u
U bring me 2 climax without sex
And u do it all with regal grace
U r my heart in Human Form
A Friend I could never replace
All Eyez on Me depicts a scene where Tupac (Demetrius Shipp, Jr.) reads the poem to Pinkett Smith (Kat Graham), though this never happened in real life. She was unaware of the poem’s existence until after Tupac had died.
5. Pinkett Smith Is Unhappy With the ‘All Eyez on Me’ Film
With the release of All Eyez on Me and the negative reviews that have resulted, Pinkett Smith was also quick to point out some of the film’s shortcomings. “Forgive me… my relationship to ‘Pac is too precious to me for the scenes in All Eyez on Me to stand as truth,” she wrote on Twitter, before launching into a point-by-point breakdown of the scenes that got it wrong between her and Tupac.
She revealed that the scene where Tupac reads hers the poem he wrote about never happened, nor did he say goodbye to her before leaving for Los Angeles. Additionally, the scenes that depicted the two arguing backstage after one of Tupac’s concerts never happened, as Pinkett Smith never attended a concert.
And though she was appreciative of the work that actors Demetruis Shipp, Jr. and Kat Graham put into the film, Pinkett Smith was clear in her dislike for the final product: “The reimagining of my relationship to ‘Pac has been deeply hurtful.” She concluded her Twitter breakdown by wishing Tupac happy birthday. The rapper would have been 46.