- Fri, 2006-01-27 18:00
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, one of the biggest and most popular stars in hip-hop, is the charismatic driving force behind Get Rich or Die Tryin’, a hard-hitting drama directed by six-time Oscar® nominee Jim Sheridan about an orphaned street kid who makes his mark in the drug trade but finally dares to leave the violence behind and become the rap artist he was meant to be.
I Like Music caught up with 'Fif' to chat about the movie loosely based on his life, Get Rich Or Die Tryin. Find out what joke Eminem played on him before going on set and discuss what led him to music in the first place. No doubt Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson is a tough cookie (watch the film!) but we found Fif to be incredibly nice, warm, chilled out and… well, a gentleman ex-gangster.
ILM: So, what do you think of London?
50 Cent: I make sure I end my tours here. When I come to the UK, the last show is usually in London. When I first came here it was exciting for me because it had so much energy, it was starting here, because the music was just a little bit behind, because they didn’t release simultaneously, so when I got here it was better, because it was less on me when I came. So in my head my reference to London has always been better than the US. Because, the energy just went bananas, and the rollercoaster started without me for a second.
ILM: Did Ashley Walters (So Solid’s Asher D who plays Antwan in the film) give you some tips on what to do while you’re here?
50 Cent: Ashlee’s cool, I showed him New York. We made it to New York City. We got a chance to speak to each other a lot while we were on the movie set. It was a real cool work environment as far as the cast was concerned, everbody spoke to each other.
Adewale (Akinnuoye-Agbaje who plays Majestic), he’s from out here (the UK) too. He was f***ed up. Because he’s like a method actor, like really serious about it. He came in and he was already… his character is like real mean in the film and he came in like that from the beginning to the end. I met him the last couple of days and every time I met Adewale, the whole time I was hanging out with his character.
ILM: Did you find method and acting and working with Jim Sheridan intimidating at first?
50 Cent: Absolutely, I mean the entire film project was a learning experience for me. I think method acting makes you crazy. They say it takes 30 days to make a habit, so even if you change your eating habits and everything else for 30 days, I think at some point you’ll find a piece of that character. Like when he’s upset he might be Majestic for 10 minutes, you know what I mean, he might go off into that. After spending three months in that actual character.
ILM: Did it take a bit of convincing to get you interested in making the film?
50 Cent: In the beginning when they approached me with it yeah. The comparisons with 8 Mile and Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, I’m totally cool with, because 8 Mile was a huge success and I know that 8 Mile’s success is what motivated Jim to present the idea of creating this film to me. After the first weeks sales of my record, they approached me with it, and I was like ‘allright, let’s see what it is’. They had a writer, Terence Winter, come out with me and he spent ten weeks compiling information with me to create the screenplay, and it wasn’t until after I’d read the screenplay that I became excited about being part the film.
And then I met Jim Sheridan through Bono from U2 and Jimmy Iovine together. I was briefed on his material… so I realised he was really a great director and Bono was like ‘this guy is the guy for you, he’s the best, but he’s not the kind of person you can get to work based on finances, he has to creatively be in to the actual project or he’s not even going to accept it.
ILM: Did you insist in anything that had to be in the film, rather than it being 8 Mile with 50 Cent.?
50 Cent: See, Em’s 8 Mile story shows you the battle rap aspect. But I’ve never explored that, because I was looking at the portion of music that generates finances when I initially came into it. For me, I was choosing to write music for a living as the thing that would give me the lifestyle that I would like: travel, I’d get the chance to see the world, meet so many different people and things. And that is what attracted me to music. I always enjoyed it. My friends early on they would have turntables, buy the single, the 12”, have the instruments and the acapella, and we’d create our own lyrics to the music. And just overall, when I looked at the opportunity to capture my actual experience, I felt like this would be the highest level that I would be able to make an example of my experiences. And if there was something to judge me on, I’d rather them judge it based on the film, as the biggest example of my experience, period.
ILM: How difficult was it to portray the more vulnerable aspect of the character? Because on the street, the emotion, fear and concern in the eyes is just what you don’t want to show?
50 Cent: Absolutely, for me I grew up kind of boxed in. Jim will tell you one of the things he was surprised about was me not displaying aggression easy. Because they assume because the music content is aggressive, that you have to be aggressive from the goodbye. If you’re crying people will perceive you as weak, and you make yourself a victim, but if you’re over-intimidating they’ll kill you because you pushed the wrong person into a corner.
So you have to find a medium somewhere where you’re non-threatening but everything that you want you actually have to take it. The thing that I think makes people look at me and makes me appear crazy is when things go on around me and I appear unaffected by it. So it looks like ‘that was nothing, that was yesterday and today’s another day.’ And they go, somebody got stabbed yesterday, and it’s a major thing to them and to me it’s like [shrugs].
ILM: Thinking about that lifestyle you wanted and then listening to this interview when you’re saying things like, ‘Bono introduced me’, do you ever think five or six years ago this would’ve been just fairytale?
50 Cent: How about three years ago?! I always felt like I would be successful at some point. Actually I spent more time being the only person to feel like I would be successful, than have anyone else believe in it. I can drift off, like I’m a dreamer, but it’s changed. I used to be a dreamer, now I envision things, because I take steps towards my dreams becoming true immediately after assessing the situation.
So I looked at music, and I went towards songwriting with Jam Master Jay, I saw an opportunity and I jumped in. He told me some of the things he wanted to do with his record company in the future, and, at the time I appeared to be…on the outside I looked like an established artist, because I had everything that I acquired from the street, like the Mercedes Benz, jewellery and nice clothes and stuff. But I lost it during the time period of me working with Jam Master Jay. Because I stopped everything that I was doing, because my son’s mum was pregnant, my priorities changed. I couldn’t accept the repercussions to my actions anymore at that point, because if I wasn’t physically wasn’t available to take care of him nobody else would. Me being an artist is on the music front came from my son actually. He was motivation to go in a different direction. Overall Jam Master Jay liked what I said in rhymes, but I was doing it and it wasn’t in song format. I didn’t know how to count bars, so he’d stay beating that over my head saying, write the chorus, and that conditioned me differently.
There are a lot of artists out there who are extremely talented that come from… Em’s significance is that he comes from the battle circuit. Those artists they’re so talented, they condition themselves to pretty much speak in rap form, so they can talk about your shoes, your shirt, your hat, your watch, everything off the top of their head, that quick and make it sound like a song. But they can’t quite write a song to save their lives. The same artist… because so many things become an option, it becomes so easy for them to do it, that they don’t exactly what to talk about. And they write records that are well put together about the wrong thing.
ILM: Is there that much of a leap between presenting your emotions the right way to survive on the street and performing as an actor. Is there a parallel?
50 Cent: Well yeah it’s a leap, because when you get on a movie set, when he wants you angry, he wants you angry right now. “OK, you’ve got two minutes, figure it out,” you know. [Laughs] And you’ve got to do it.
ILM: Did Eminem give you any acting tips?
50 Cent: You know what, Em’s a good friend and a lot of things, but he’s an asshole too [Fif laughs].
In the beginning he told me, ‘they tell me you’re gonna do a movie,’ and I said ‘yeah.’ So he said, ‘They tell me you think it’s a good idea – you up for that? You’ll be there for three months, you’ll be on set for 16 hours a day sometimes. Then they’ll be like, ’50 can you make us an incredible record while you do that too’. I don’t know why you did that.’ And I’m like ‘you serious?’ And he said, ‘I’m gonna call you back’ and hung up. He doesn’t call me back until I’m on the set. All this was two weeks before I actually get to the movie set, so now I’m like, ‘did I let them talk me into doing some shit I wasn’t supposed to do?’ So then I get there, and he calls after the first day of shooting and he’s like, ‘yo, so you shot, you like it?’ and I was like, ‘yeah s’allright,’ and he said, ‘I was only playing with you’. So he was just f***king with me. So no, he didn’t give me any acting tickets, he just wanted to make me uncomfortable for a moment, so he could come back, you know.
ILM: Were you scared on your first day?
50 Cent: Absolutely. The first scene we shot was me riding past the cheque cashing place with Terrence Howard and he says something in Spanish, and I say ‘what’s that?’ and he’s like ‘you don’t know Spanish’ and we’re talking as we’re going, we shot that the first day. It was real brief that day, we kept it short, and came back the next day and really started working.
ILM: There’s a lot of buzz around Terrence Howard with him appearing in Crash and Hustle And Flow, what was it like working with him?
50 Cent: Terrence was great you know. He’s real charismatic, he’s just not a hard person to be around. It was cool working together. It’s kind of like in a film, there’s no good film based on one person. I think it’s a total team effort, like a lot of characters play good roles to create a really good film. So having the people they cast, Jim made really excellent choices. I stayed out of the casting portion of it because I wanted the film to be good.
ILM: Did you have any other films, actors or directors in mind that inspired you while you were filming?
50 Cent: No but after I filmed Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, I went to do voiceovers, because sometimes the levels were high or low. I actually did it in Rome, and the tapes weren’t right, so we did it again in Los Angeles, and I met Stephen Spielsberg. His son plays the guitar, he’s a big fan of mine.
ILM: And how about the love scenes? Will anyone be convincing you to get naked in another film?
50 Cent: [Laughs] For this particular film, I wanted to do everything. For your first time out, there’s more in it than I think people expected the film to actually be. And Jim didn’t consider it was my first time. He was like, ‘nah the scene doesn’t work.’ First we were going to shoot it waist up in the shower scene, and Jim was like, ‘it’s not going to work, Fifty, it’s not real, take it off.’ And I was like, ‘say what?’
And the bedroom scene wasn’t so bad because I’d done the scene in the shower. I’ve been in situations in the gym in the locker room, or even when I was incarcerated, so it’s like ‘ok but for everyone to see? This is kind of crazy right here.’ And then after I did the shower scene when it came to do the love scene I was like, ‘ok’. You know what I mean? And then they were like ‘woh, you’ve got to put something on,’ so we had to put a sock on.
ILM: And what about the future? Any other projects coming up?
50 Cent: Actually I’m doing a development deal now, so I’ll be producing films in the future. When I come across a screenplay that excites me as much as my life story, I’ll commit to the role.
In the meantime, Fif releases his brilliant new single from the Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ official soundtrack, Hustlers Ambition.