CATEGORIES Interviews
Best known for brandishing hip-hop swagger in '8 Mile' (he was Eminem's rival Papa Doc) and 'Notorious' (he was Biggie's rival Tupac Shakur), Anthony Mackie moves on to an entirely different kind of battle as a real American hero in the buzzed-about Iraq War drama 'The Hurt Locker.'

Mackie, who also earned raves for the 2006 indie gem 'Half Nelson,' plays a member of an elite team of bomb squad technicians partnered with a new gung-ho staff sergeant (Jeremy Renner) who may or may not have a death wish.

We caught up with the rising star to talk Iraq War flicks, his status as Hollywood's top hip-hopper, and two upcoming starring roles in high-profile biopics.

5 Questions With the Star of New Iraq War Drama


Best known for brandishing hip-hop swagger in '8 Mile' (he was Eminem's rival Papa Doc) and 'Notorious' (he was Biggie's rival Tupac Shakur), Anthony Mackie moves on to an entirely different kind of battle as a real American hero in the buzzed-about Iraq War drama 'The Hurt Locker.'

Mackie, who also earned raves for the 2006 indie gem 'Half Nelson,' plays a member of an elite team of bomb squad technicians partnered with a new gung-ho staff sergeant (Jeremy Renner) who may or may not have a death wish.

We caught up with the rising star to talk Iraq War flicks, his status as Hollywood's top hip-hopper, and two upcoming starring roles in high-profile biopics. -- By Kevin Polowy

Could you see yourself in the military?
No, no ... though when 'Top Gun' came out, I wanted to go into the Air Force [laughs]. I wanted to be the black Goose. But I just don't have the backbone for it. I don't have the guts to do it ... I knew I could never be a police officer because I would just be going around shooting the bad guys. And I knew I couldn't be in the military, because I'd just be going around shooting the bad guys. I don't have the discipline and confidence that those guys have.

Why do you think movies about Iraq have struggled so much at the box office?
I feel like when you go to a movie you go to escape day-to-day life. The reason why movies like 'Three Kings,' 'Apocalypse Now' and 'Full Metal Jacket' did so well was because they were character studies. You go to those movies and you learn about these guys. There's not someone force-feeding you their opinion about Bush, or their opinion about the war. We have so many opinionated psychos out there right now that if one thing is not the way they see it, they're like, "I'm shutting this off. This is Nonsense. Republican, Republican. Democrat, Democrat." So, I feel like so many people have so many misguided opinions that they don't listen to other opinions.



Get showtimes & tickets
Watch an exclusive clip from 'The Hurt Locker'
Read an interview with Jeremy Renner
Get more on Anthony Mackie


It's obvious you bonded with Jeremy Renner on this set. Who's the actor you bonded with the most while working?

I would say Sam Jackson [on the set of 'Freedomland']. It was really cool, because every time he showed up on set, it was like he knew everybody's name. There were certain things that he did to make everybody feel special. And then if you needed to go off to the side and talk to him for a bit, you were able to do that. He wasn't the kind of guy who, when he finished his take, he would go to his trailer. He would call you a motherf***er just like you would call him a mother***er [laughs]. He called me that once an hour. I thought it was in my contract. I was like, "Dude, I don't understand why you keep calling me motherf***er, I don.t get it." "Shut up motherf***er." "Alright, cool, I get it."

After '8 Mile' and 'Notorious,' are you the go-to hip-hop actor in Hollywood these days?
It seems like I'm the hip-hop actor that can actually speak English [laughs]. I love hip-hop. I love the way it's culturally integrated into the world, I love the fact that it's an American-made art form. We've got the rock 'n' roll and the jazz. We've finally created a third tier of artistic expression that everyone can be a part of, and it's ours. I love it. I mean that's what I jam on my iPod all day.

You play Jesse Owens and Buddy Bolden in two upcoming biopics. What can you tell us about those?
['Jesse Owens'] is basically the story of him growing up. We're focusing on a very high part of his life. From him growing up to the point of him winning four gold medals at the Olympics. The interesting thing about Jesse, and a great thing about Jesse, is that when he got back to the U.S., people asked him, how did he feel with Hitler not inviting him up in the box once he won the gold medals? He said, "Well, when I got back to the U.S. the President didn't invite me to the White House either." I feel like that's the basic theme of the movie... As for Buddy Bolden, everything we know about music, he invented it. He was the guy who invented freestyle jazz in 1905 New Orleans. So from rock 'n' roll to jazz to hip-hop, all that is the ancestry of Buddy Bolden. It's cool because New Orleans at that time was the New York of the United States, so it's more like you get to see New Orleans in 1905 and Buddy Bolden mix it up in that light.

Anthony Mackie Photos

    HOLLYWOOD - JUNE 05: Actor Anthony Mackie attends "The Hurt Locker" film premiere at the Egyptian Theatre on June 5, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Anthony Mackie

    Getty Images

    HOLLYWOOD - JUNE 05: Actor Anthony Mackie attends "The Hurt Locker" film premiere at the Egyptian Theatre on June 5, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Anthony Mackie

    Getty Images

    HOLLYWOOD - JUNE 05: Actor Anthony Mackie attends "The Hurt Locker" film premiere at the Egyptian Theatre on June 5, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Anthony Mackie

    Getty Images

    HOLLYWOOD - JUNE 05: Actor Anthony Mackie attends "The Hurt Locker" film premiere at the Egyptian Theatre on June 5, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Anthony Mackie

    Getty Images

    HOLLYWOOD - JUNE 05: Actor Anthony Mackie attends "The Hurt Locker" film premiere at the Egyptian Theatre on June 5, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Anthony Mackie

    Getty Images

    Actor Anthony Mackie, Director Kathryn Bigelow, Actor Jeremy Renner, Actor Brian Geraghty and Writer Mark Boal arrive at Summit Entertainment's Premiere of "The Hurt Locker" held at the Egyptian Theatre on June 5, 2009 in Hollywood, California. Summit Entertainment's "The Hurt Locker" - Red Carpet the Egyptian Theatre Hollywood, California United States June 5, 2009 Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.com To license this image (57611398), contact FilmMagic.com

    Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.com

    Actor Anthony Mackie attends Film Independent's 2009 Independent Spirit Awards sponsored by Piaget held at the Santa Monica Pier on February 21, 2009 in Santa Monica, California. 2009 Film Independent's Spirit Awards - Piaget Santa Monica Pier Los Angeles, CA United States February 21, 2009 Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.com To license this image (56817138), contact WireImage.com

    John Shearer/WireImage.com

    SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Director Kathryn Bigelow, actors Anthony Mackie and Jeremy Renner arrive at the 24th Annual Film Independent's Spirit Awards held at Santa Monica Beach on February 21, 2009 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Kathryn Bigelow;Anthony Mackie;Jeremy Renner

    Getty Images

    SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Writer Mark Boal, director Kathryn Bigelow, actors Anthony Mackie and Jeremy Renner arrive at the 24th Annual Film Independent's Spirit Awards held at Santa Monica Beach on February 21, 2009 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Mark Boal;Kathryn Bigelow;Anthony Mackie;Jeremy Renner

    Getty Images

    SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Actor Anthony Mackie arrives at the 24th Annual Film Independent's Spirit Awards held at Santa Monica Beach on February 21, 2009 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Anthony Mackie

    Getty Images