Friday, February 24, 2012

An Interview With Anthony Mackie about Real Steel

Anthony Mackie (Finn) trained at the Juilliard School of Drama. After receiving rave reviews playing Tupac Shakur in the off-Broadway production “Up Against the Wind,” Mackie made his feature-film debut as Eminem’s nemesis, Papa Doc, in Curtis Hanson’s “8 Mile.” Spike Lee subsequently cast Mackie in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival Masters Program selection “Sucker Free City” and “She Hate Me.” He also appeared in Clint Eastwood’s Academy Award®-winning “Million Dollar Baby” and Jonathan Demme’s “The Manchurian Candidate.”

Mackie earned IFP Spirit and Gotham Award nominations for his performance in Rodney Evans’ “Brother to Brother.” In 2005, he appeared in “Heavens Fall,” which premiered at the 2006 SXSW Film Festival in Austin.

In 2009, Mackie was seen as Sgt. J.T. Sanborn in Kathryn Bigelow’s Academy Award®–winning “The Hurt Locker” (Best Picture), a performance that earned Mackie an Independent Spirit Award nomination. That same year, Mackie revisited the role of Tupac Shakur in Fox Searchlight’s “Notorious,” the biopic of Notorious B.I.G. He also starred as Maj. William Bowman in DreamWorks Studios’ “Eagle Eye.”

Last year, Mackie returned to Broadway, starring in Martin McDonough’s “A Beheading in Spokane.” He also starred with Kerry Washington in the drama “Night Catches Us.” Most recently, Mackie was seen in Universal Pictures’ “The Adjustment Bureau” and can be seen in the upcoming film “Man on a Ledge,” which will be released on January 13, 2012.

Mackie recently wrapped the films “Ten Year” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” and is currently filming a pair of projects: the psychological thriller “Vipaka” with Forest Whitaker and the much-anticipated Ruben Fleischer film “Gangster Squad,” which also stars Ryan Gosling and Sean Penn. His other feature-film credits include “We Are Marshall,” “Half Nelson,” “Crossover,” “Haven” and “Freedomland.”

Q:        What attracted you to the role of Finn?
A:        I haven’t had the opportunity yet in my career to really do anything rambunctious and outlandish. When I read the script, I was like, “It’s time to have some fun.”

Q:      Is there something specific you look for in the roles you choose?
A:         I just always look for something different, weird and creative. I feel like I’m blessed because I get to do what I love. Why wouldn’t I go to work and have a good time and enjoy myself and do something different and challenge myself? Johnny Depp shouldn’t be the only dude having fun doing this.

Q:        Were you inspired by Don King for your character or did you want to add a whole new spin to your character?
A:         Finn is 100 percent Don King. When I was in high school I read a story about Don King and he said, “Set yourself on fire and the world will pay to watch you burn.” I thought that was the most amazing thing I’d ever heard. I wrote it on my wall and everything.

I feel like there’s an element of Don King that a lot of people don’t really pay attention to. Besides Muhammad Ali, he’s the second most charismatic and influential figure in the world of boxing. A lot of people take that for granted because of all the crazy stuff he has said and all of the words he made up, but I really feel like there is something beautiful about the art and craft he brought to boxing. He also turned it into a billion dollar business. I tried to turn Finn into that kind of character in case there’s a sequel so I could finally get Don King’s hair. I asked Shawn Levy for his hair in this one, but he said no.

Q:        You’ve been quoted as saying that you were a bit intimidated when you first saw a robot that was built for the film. Can you talk about that experience?
A:         It’s not every day you see an almost nine-foot tall robot just standing there. I mean, when I go to certain nightclubs or bars and see a six-foot-four black dude, I’m used to that. But when I see a nine-foot tall animatronics robot and he lifts his arm and puts it down, it’s very intimidating at first. I call it the Jack Bauer effect. When something is in the room and it’s not normal, I wait for that thing to go crazy and kill everybody in the room. Or it’s like going to somebody’s house and they have a Great Dane on the rug. It’s “Nice doggie” until he gets up and mauls my face. That’s how I looked at the robots.

Q:        What was it like working with Hugh Jackman?
A:       Hugh’s a great guy. We had a lot of fun and he was always open and responsive and really cool. The dude doesn’t have a negative bone in his body. It’s weird for somebody to play Wolverine and not be a rugby-playing, crazy dude but he’s not at all. That shows his versatility as an actor but also his humility as a human being. 

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