When it comes to rappers-turned-actors, some can find it hard to make the big jump and secure music-fan audiences to feel the same way about their movies. But with 20-plus film roles under his belt, a few screenplays, and a production company dedicated to finding new challenges for him to play, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson is committed to conquering Hollywood the same way he has the charts.
And in his new movie "Freelancers," where he stars alongside respected actors like Robert De Niro and Forest Whitaker, Jackson continues to pad his portfolio. In the crime thriller he plays Malo, the son of a slain police officer who follows in his dad's footsteps only to fall in with a team of corrupt cops.
With "Freelancers" coming out on Blu-ray/DVD this week, Moviefone spoke to Jackson about working with two Academy Award winners, how he chooses his projects, and why audiences shouldn't just see him as 50 Cent.
So you were also a producer on "Freelancers." How early did you come on to the project?
It was a project that we came across, and it had an interesting premise. They sent it to me. Writers do that all the time. They send me material and then I read it. And we bought the script from them.
What was it that appealed to you about the script?
It reminded me of a project I'd almost made in the past. It had so many different twists and turns; I thought it was good, it felt like something I could compare to "Training Day." And then it went so many different places that I didn't expect.
There's no real straightforward hero or villain in this movie; even your character Malo is sort of an anti-hero. Was that approach part of what interested you?
That's exactly what it was. Usually you can see who's good right away; in the first 30 minutes, you know what's going to happen, or who's good, that kind of thing. What person's not going to die at the end the film, all of that. In a way, the twists and turns of the ["Freelancers"] screenplay, there are points where you're not sure what's going to happen anymore. The plot changes. It's interesting to me, the reversal at the end of the movie.
The ending also seems to leave things open for a sequel. Is there any thought of continuing the character, or turning this into a franchise?
Well, it was [intentionally] written that way. It's interesting that you caught that. Maybe, if this is a successful film. Obviously, De Niro or Forest wouldn't be in it. We'll see how well this one does.
This is your second time working with De Niro now. Did that past experience help you get him for this role?
Absolutely. It helped a lot. It secured him being comfortable with working with me, because he knew I could come to work. There was a project before the one that we did, "Righteous Kill," it was something we had talked about working on, [but] the timing, it didn't happen, just because of other projects.
With Forest Whitaker too, it's a pretty impressive cast. How important is it to you to make sure that you surround yourself with the right people?
Well, that's how I think you grow as an artist. Obviously having stronger talent around you on a project allows you to learn from them. I think I pay attention to detail when I'm around this caliber of actors. I mean, these are two Academy Award-winning actors.
Was there anything specifically that you took away from them?
I learned how to make different choices [in different takes]. Watching the choices that they made, it put this thing in my head, to do the same scene differently. To perform it differently, or change it [up]. There are so many different versions of the film. What we're watching now is the director's film, the editor's film. Because there are so many options to work with, and choose from.
You get to do some pretty good action in this movie. Are you the type of actor who likes to do his own stunts?
Yeah, I mean, unless you're talking about jumping through glass or jumping off a building, or things like that. I've got other things I've got to do. You've got to be smart. So it depends on what the actual stunt is. We have guys who can run and jump from one building to the next, you know, what they call free-running. You won't catch me trying to do that s--t. [Laughs] That's a little bit much. I'm gonna let them do that.
When it comes to acting, are you looking to use your "50 Cent" persona to your advantage at all, or are you actively trying to create some distance from it?
Well, this role took me far away from it. You're talking about playing a police officer. [Laughs] I don't know, I think there's obviously an audience that enjoys that [persona]. I mean, there's confirmation, in my first film, [I was] doing art imitating life.
People just seem to like to pigeonhole celebrities...
Or anybody. They want to put you in a box. You're successful at anything, they want to keep you there.
And your career seems to have taken the complete opposite path. You're doing so many different things at once -- music, movies, endorsements, now boxing promotion.
Yeah, why not? In business, they say to diversify your portfolio. It's the same story.
Because of your success as a rapper, do you think you have to work any harder to get audiences to divorce your music career from your acting career?
I don't think so. I don't think that I have to quit my day job to work on the night shift. [Laughs] You know what I'm saying? I'm all for, when projects come out, that people respect that's your work. It can be anything, that's your talent. Anything you produce, that's your role. That's a part of you too.
Since you're also a big boxing guy, would you ever want to do a boxing movie?
I actually read a screenplay that I really liked; it was about fighters, and going to prison. And Nic Cage was attached to the project. We were gonna work on that. I don't know what happened to that one. I mean, I would like to do it. It's called "The Dance," the script that I had with him. I think he's great to work with. We just did a movie in Alaska called "Frozen Ground."
So there's a chance it might get resuscitated?
Yeah, at some point I might go back to that. We'll see.
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