MIAMI – Anthony Mackie is showing Hollywood that he can do it all, and do it extremely well. The 33-year old, New Orleans native has garnered critical acclaim for his extensive body of work that includes such diverse films like “Million Dollar Baby,” “8 Mile,” “Notorious”–(he played Tupac Shakur)–“We are Marshall,” “Half Nelson” “Gangster Squad,” “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” and the Oscar winning war drama, “The Hurt Locker.”
Mackie is also set to star in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” as the African-American superhero, “The Falcon” and he is in talks for “The Avengers 2.”
However, it’s Mackie’s comedic turn in the new action, dramady, “Pain & Gain,” which opens nationwide April 26, that is sure to have audiences buzzing.
“Pain & Gain,” which also stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, Tony Shalhoub and Ken Jeong, is based on a series of articles from the “Miami New Times” newspaper. The film tells the story of three dimwitted and broke bodybuilders who kidnap, extort and eventually murder some members of a prominent Miami gym, but things go horribly wrong for them during the process.
Sacramento Observer Correspondent, Lana Wilson-Combs recently sat down with Mackie in his suite at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel to discuss his role in “Pain & Gain.”
Here’s what else Mackie had to say about the film and his red-hot career.
Q. LANA K. WILSON-COMBS- How familiar were you with the story about these criminal bodybuilders and particularly Adrian Doorbal, the character you play in “Pain & Gain?”
A. ANTHONY MACKIE– I never heard the story. I knew nothing about it. I had actually met director Michael Bay at an Oscars Party in Los Angeles. It was my first time meeting him and he mentioned that he admired all my work. I thanked him and then we just stood at the bar and shot the breeze. We talked for a few hours about everything but the film. So two years later I get this script. I read it and I was blown away by it. It was something that Michael (Bay) had been developing for more than 10 years. I loved it because I felt like Adrian Doorbal was a three dimensional, grounded sort of guy. He’s really the grounding force of the bunch. He didn’t really want to commit these crimes, but the more he talks with Daniel Lugo (Wahlberg’s character) the more he believes that he does deserve a piece of this American dream. And this was his way to get it. That’s what’s so convoluted about it, because all of us deserve our piece of the American dream, but you know we live in a generation now where it used to be work as hard as you can to get what you want. Now it’s work as little as you can to get what you want. It’s a really interesting society that we live in now. At the same time I feel my character Doorbal kind of epitomizes that.
Q. LKWC– What did you do to get so ripped for the part? Did you use Muscle Max, steroids and all that other stuff?
A. AM–I wish. (Lots of laughter). I actually met Dwayne at the same Oscars party with Michael. And I have this thing that if I meet a guy who is taller than six feet, I actually want to fight them. I don’t know why, I don’t know what it is. If you’re 5’11 we’re fine, but if you’re six feet or taller, it’s on.
Q. LKWC–Is it some sort of short man’s complex you have?
A. AM—(Laughter). I’m 5’11. I’m not short. It’s some hidden aggression, I guess. (He laughs). I don’t know what happened. But it’s only for dudes that are 6 feet and over. Anyway, I met Dwayne and I saw how big he was and I felt I really had to work out. I wasn’t about to fight HIM. So literally the next day I started my training regimen. I went to the gym twice a day, once in the morning and in the evening. I started a pretty strict diet too. I would eat six squares a day, every three hours, heavy protein. I ate a lot of chicken and a lot of turkey breast, two protein shakes smoothies a day, with a non-synthetic whey protein.
Q. LKWC–Was this a pretty hard routine for you to do or had you always maintained a healthy diet before doing the film?
A. AM—I lived in New Orleans so I ate as well as I could. (Laughter). But I’ve always eaten a lot of seafood. I very rarely eat pork or red meat even though I love it. I still get my pork and red meat on. But mainly even now I eat a lot of lean protein, mostly chicken and turkey.
Q. LKWC–You have done a variety of incredibly good movie roles, but would you say that “The Hurt Locker” was the one film that catapulted your career?
A. AM–I would definitely say it’s “The Hurt Locker.” I think a lot of this started too with “Half Nelson.” When I did “Half Nelson,” a lot of people in the business took notice of me. When I did “The Hurt Locker” a lot of people outside of the business took notice of me. So I’ve been trying to slowly build on that and make sure that head of steam continues to grow.
Q. LKWC—You surprised a lot of people with your outstanding performance as Tupac Shakur in the movie, “Notorious.” Can you talk about playing that character?
A. AM–Thank you. That means a lot to me. “Notorious” was a very difficult movie and a very difficult part. And it was a part that I didn’t want at first. I’m very interested in directing, so I called George (Tillman Jr.) and asked if I could be his assistant on the movie and he was like, ‘hey I want you to be in the movie.’ And I was like no, no, no. I want to get your coffee and I want to watch you direct. He said ‘no, I want you to play Tupac. The family wants you to play Tupac and I want you to play Tupac.’” And we went back and forth on it. I finally agreed to it.
The problem is like Bob Marley, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix are people that are known in three different realities. They are known in a reality of who they actually are, they are known in the reality of who the press tells them they are and they are known in the reality of what their music communicates. So there is no way you can get those characters right with everybody. So since we live in a generation of I know I can do this better than you even though I have never done it; everybody has an opinion of who Tupac was. So as long as I got the approval and acceptance of the people who actually knew him, I was very cool with it. But it wasn’t something at that time I was looking to do.
Q. LKWC–You have some other big roles coming up. Are you still planning to do the biopic of Jesse Owens and Nat Turner? How close are they to happening?
A. AM–With the Jesse Owens movie we just got with a writer. We’re putting together a script. Hopefully in the next year or two we’ll be able to get it up and going. There’s hope for it especially now that the movie “42” has done so well.
Q. LKWC– People who see “Pain & Gain” are going to watch this and think these three criminals were totally insane. It’s really an unbelievable yet true story which makes it all the more compelling. Was there any part of the movie that was embellished?
A. AM– Honestly, the only thing that was embellished was getting from one scene to the next. We had to make transitions to say, this happened and this happened.
Q. LKWC—You mean like in the middle of the film where the graphic shows up that says “This is still a true story?
A. AM—Exactly. You know people wonder how we did this and turned it into a comedy. The reality of it is; we didn’t set out to make a comedy. We weren’t sitting there saying OK this scene has to be funny. It was more so the situation that makes it funny. And these three guys Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg), Paul Doyle (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and Adrian Doorbal (my character) were so creatively dumb. Once you read the actual story that was in the Miami New Times, you see that they were not all there. (Laughter). But at the same time they got away with it for a long time. It’s like being the bad kid in the neighborhood or the guy who sells stolen stuff in a store parking lot. All you have to do is put yourself in the right situation and you can do whatever you want, but instead you decide to sell stolen water at a stop sign.
Q. LKWC—Do you have a couple of major movies on deck?
A. AM—Definitely. By the time this article comes out I will be starting to shoot “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014).
Q. LKWC—Where will you be filming and what character will you play in it?
A. AM—We will be shooting in Los Angeles, Cleveland and Washington, D.C. I’m playing The Falcon. The Falcon was a superhero that Marvel introduced in the late 1960s early ‘70s. He’s had three incarnations. Now they’ve made an amalgamation of who they want this character to be. So it’s Black Widow, Captain America and The Falcon taking down The Winter Soldier. No one has any idea yet about “The Avengers 2,” the script or the story or anything.
Q. LKWC–But you’re not about to turn down “The Avengers 2” right?
A. AM–I am definitely not going to turn it down. If they want me I am theirs to have.
Q. LKWC– Being the handsome chap that you are, why haven’t you done any leading romantic roles yet?
A. AM–Tell me about it. (Lots of Laughter). I do consider myself to be a fairly handsome guy. I got all my teeth, bathe regularly (Laughter) and am healthy. But the reality is they just aren’t making those movies anymore. I mean think how long it’s been since you’ve seen a black romantic movie. That’s something that has to be created. I’m actually working on creating that. I have friends that I write with. It’s very difficult these days to get a movie like “Love Jones” made. And even though there’s a “Best Man” sequel coming out, that’s with all the people from the movie 20 years ago. So it’s like the best grandparents now (Laughter). Hopefully that role will be there soon because it’s something that I am actively looking for and really have wanted to do.
Q. LKWC–Is there any other role or person that you’d like to work with?
A. AM–Every young actor’s dream is to work with Denzel Washington. I’d love to work with Denzel. On stage I would love to work with Philip Seymour Hoffman. There are just certain cats you’d love to go toe to toe with and those are my two film and stage actors. I’m looking for a play to go back to Broadway with. It’s funny how all the movie stars used to stay in movies. Now they aren’t really making the movies that movie stars want to do, so they are now doing TV and Broadway. There are so many good shows and movies on cable now like “Game of Thrones” “House of Lies,” etc. And they get great directors to do them. So it’s only a matter of time before my day is going to come that I will stand toe to toe with Denzel.
By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
Sacramento Observer Correspondent
EDITOR’S NOTE: Be sure to catch Anthony Mackie in the new movie, “Pain & Gain” opening April 26 and starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Mark Wahlberg and Tony Shalhoub.
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a Sacramento based syndicated movie and entertainment writer. You can catch her music and movie reviews/interviews each week at SacObserver.com and on her Web site at www.N2Entertainment.net. And for the latest movie reviews listen to Lana on the Kitty O’Neal Show every Friday at 6:40 p.m. on radio station KFBK 1530 AM. You can also log on to www.KFBK.com.