Earlier this month, CL attended a preview screening of ‘Pain & Gain’ in New York City and only a handful of media outlets were seated in the Viacom theater for the new Action-Comedy release.
Based on a true story, the film follows a trio of bodybuilders (Mark Wahlberg, Dwyane ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Anthony Mackie) from Miami, Florida that get caught up in an extortion ring and murder scheme gone wrong.
In conjunction with previewing the movie, CL had an opportunity to interview the eclectic actor Anthony Mackie. He spoke openly about his role as ‘Adrian; and also shared some insight on his rising Hollywood career. Best known for his roles in 2002′s ’8 Mile,’ as well as the Academy Award winning movies, “Million Dollar Baby” and “Hurt Locker” — the 34 year-old was very candid about the ups and downs of show business.
The Julliard School Graduate shared the advice that veteran actor Morgan Freeman gave to him early in his career and even gave a little advice of his own. Check out our exclusive interview below.
CL’s Angel: Thank you for speaking with us. I saw your new movie “Pain & Gain” and I have to say I was kind of disappointed in the final product.
Anthony Mackie: [LAUGHS]. Why is that?
CL: I felt like it was one big advertisement disguised as a movie.
Anthony Mackie: What was it advertising?
CL: I felt product placement was very prevalent in this movie. Yes it’s prevalent in many other movies, but more so in this one. You see “Nike, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and of course, Men’s Fitness”; you just see a lot of brands standing out, so it seemed like an advertisement disguised as a movie.
Anthony Mackie: That’s interesting, that’s interesting.
CL: Have you seen the final product of the movie, and how did you feel about it?
Anthony Mackie: I have seen the final product; three times now, and I actually really enjoyed it. I think it was an offbeat way to tell a true story. They took a very dark, very traumatic experience and put humanity in it in a way to where everybody you rooted for in the beginning you hate by the end, and everybody you hated in the beginning you’re rooting for at the end. I think its just a fun thrill ride, I think what we were able to do was really simplify the human aspect of a very dark traumatic experience, so that you can relate to it.
CL: I definitely can see that side. It’s based on a true story that came off, as a comedy that you didn’t realize was true until the end.
Anthony Mackie: Right, and that was the thing. The idea of it being true was crazy because the situation and the circumstance were so ridiculous, and I think it come across as funny.
CL: You showed your comedic side and with you being such an eclectic actor, how was it playing a comedy role?
Anthony Mackie: It was hard; it was very hard. I’ve never done that before. This business is like living a catch 22; you don’t get cast in comedies until someone sees you do a comedy, and they don’t see you do comedy until they cast you in a comedy. I was hanging out with Michael and we were shooting shit and he said, “Man, you’re funny dude”. A year later I get this script and he’s like we a got “The Rock”, I got Dwayne are you interested in doing it? And I’m like “hell yeah”.
CL: Most people first seen you as “Papa Doc” in “8 Mile”, what have you learned about yourself since that role?
Anthony Mackie: I’ve learned that I’m good at what I do, and I deserve to do it. There is no rhyme or reason to success in this business. When you start out in this business, I feel for everyone, there is a certain level of insecurity and fear because acting is unlike any other business or job in the world. It’s the most emotionally deprecating industry in the world. Imagine every job interview you go in for people say your application is great, we think you’re really smart but we just don’t like you. And that’s what it is. The director knows you can do the job but they just don’t like you.
CL: There is a lot of criticism so you have to be aware of yourself and have a high level of confidence because that’s criticism on a daily, weekly basis.
Anthony Mackie: No, that’s on an hourly basis. That’s what I’ve been able to gain from myself, confidence. I deserved to be doing this and I’m good at it. I one of the only people I know that do what I love to do and get paid for it.
CL: “Sucker Free City” was my favorite movie you did.
Anthony Mackie: That was my first movie with Spike, and that was my favorite movie I’ve done so far. This is the lesson “Sucker Free City” taught me: “Sucker Free City” was the movie everyone was like you’re twenty-five years old and you’re the lead of a Spike Lee movie, you’re the new Denzel, you’re coming up, you’re going to be a star after this. Car dealers would bring cars to set for me to drive but when the movie comes out and no body sees it.
CL: I’m always surprised when most people say they didn’t see “Sucker Free City”.
Anthony Mackie: The problem was it was on “Showtime”, and “Showtime” was going through a regime change so we just got caught in the middle of that.
CL: The other Spike Lee film you did was “She Hate Me”, with Kerry Washington
Anthony Mackie: Spike awarded me a huge opportunity and I tried to take advantage of it. To this day its one of my favorite movies to watch and not because of all of the physical stuff, but just the story of it. Its very Shakespearean, it was very theatrical and the way it was written. I love that it was a complex, dense story line. And it’s funny as hell. That’s a ridiculous movie. “Sucker Free City” was my favorite movie to do, but “She Hate Me” is my favorite I’ve done to watch.
CL: How do you feel about being apart of a film that has been nominated for Academy Awards, but not being nominated for the award yourself?
Anthony Mackie: If the movie wins, I win. I’m not even going to bullshit you; independent accolades are great, but was I pissed off that I didn’t get nominated for “The Hurt Locker”? “HELL YEAH” [LAUGHS] but at the end the day I still won. Everybody saw that movie, and you know who was the co-star of that movie? Me. Everyone left that movie asking, “Who is that black dude?” So even in not being nominated, I still won.
CL: Do you have any motivational quotes that you use?
Anthony Mackie: “Patience is a virtue.” I’ve had that tattooed across my forehead. Here’s an example: When I first got out of school I auditioned for this movie that I really wanted to get. I thought I would’ve been perfect for the movie but I didn’t get it. And I was pissed off, but looking at it now I know I wasn’t ready for that role. If I had gotten the role and I became a star then, I wouldn’t be who I am now. And the person that got that role became a star and now you don’t even talk about him.
When I worked with Morgan Freeman on “Million Dollar Baby”, I asked him if I should take a play that pays four hundred dollars a week or a movie that’s offering me, literally, a bucket of money. I said, “What do you think I should do?” He said do the play and work on your craft. When Hollywood wants you they’ll come get you, and when they come get you they’ll pay for you. It’s not a sprint it’s a marathon. And my goal is when I’m 65-70, like Morgan Freeman, is to still be doing great roles and hitting them out of the park.
CL: What advice would you give to young black actors that want to get into the acting field?
Anthony Mackie: I went through eleven years of training before I got my first paying job as an actor. The best thing that anything actor, specifically a minority actor, can do is train. You want the ability to drama as well as comedy, you want the ability to do Shakespeare as well as Tupac, you want the ability to do theater as well as film. At any time you don’t want anyone telling you want you cannot do, because that justifies him or her not hiring you.
CL: What’s next for you?
Anthony Mackie: I’m actively looking for a Broadway play right now; it’s been two years since I’ve been on Broadway. My dream, my goal is to be on Broadway with Denzel; so I’m hoping he’ll do something to where we can stand side by side on the pine, and go toe to toe.
Thanx to Anthony Mackie for the insightful interview! The new movie, “Pain & Gain” is in movie theaters now..