Playing real-life criminal Adrian Doorbal for Michael Bay's latest trip into excess (based on the true-life tale of a Miami crime spree brought to life by a series of Miami New Times articles back in 1999), Mackie has once again added another strong supporting performance to his already impressive resume of work ("Million Dollar Baby," "We Are Marshall," "The Hurt Locker").
Mackie has a busy slate ahead of him, with Bill Condon's "The Fifth Estate" and the crime thriller "Runner, Runner" (which stars Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake, and Gemma Arterton) on the way later this year, and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" due out in 2014. But it's "Pain & Gain" that is sure to keep the actor on your radar for a while, whether it's through his character's actions or memorable dialogue.
We spoke to Mackie about the real-life events that inspired "Pain & Gain," what it is that makes the characters so despicable yet relatable, and what we can expect from "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."
Moviefone: It's been 11 years since "8 Mile," which was your first feature role. You've had plenty of time to contemplate this... Anthony Mackie: Do I want a rematch with Eminem? Yes.
How different do you think life would have been had Papa Doc just chosen to go first in the final battle? You know what? It's funny, that was an argument I had with Curtis [Hanson] on set, and I told him, "It would be ten times better if I go first, he goes second. Then, after that, we rap to a draw, so we have to do a round two. Round two, he goes first, and I have nothing to say." That was my big argument. But it was my first movie, so I had no input and no say, so it turned out the way it did. But if I had gone first, I would have shut him down.
You know he's just sitting around, twelve years later, going, "What the f---, man..." Exactly! Now every opportunity he gets, "Who's going first?" "ME! I'm going first!"
And he's just reliving his glory day moment that he's never going to get back... But it's over and done with. Right... Working at KFC.
On to "Pain & Gain." What was your initial reaction to the script, and also the fact that you were told that it was based on real events? Well, when I first got the script, Michael [Bay] called me and told me it was a project he had been working on for ten years and it was something... Like his pet project. When I read it... Every scene I would have to start back over at the top of the scene and go back because I just couldn't believe that this was happening. Not only that it was happening, but that it was real. So I went back to the New Times piece, and I read it over and over again, and realized that the truth of it was even more ridiculous than the script, you know? ...The one thing about this movie that works really well is... There's a 180 degree turn with every character in the movie except for Ed Harris. He's the through line. He's the audience's eyes into this movie. Everybody you begin rooting for in the beginning of the movie, you hate at the end. Everybody you hate at the beginning, you're rooting for at the end. I feel like that's great filmmaking. That's what you want, that roller coaster ride. You want the ability to go on that journey.
At the very heart of your character is this guy who's just in way over his head. He's just winging it. But he still follows through with them. Is it that we're all drawn to the money and the lifestyle? Is that so much of a draw that he would cast aside at least what are his first initial instincts which are, "Yeah, this sounds good, but it also sounds..." "Crazy."
"Like a really horrible situation we're going to put ourselves in." "This sounds like a movie..." [laughs] The funny thing about it, and what I love about Doorbal, is that he's the grounding force of this movie. Everybody else does this crime so they can move into a nice neighborhood and sleep with strippers and buy sports cars. When everybody else got a sports car, he got a minivan. When everybody else blew their money on all kinds of random s---, he got married and bought a house. So he is the true testament, the epitome of wanting to have the American dream. And I think that's why the character works so well. Because he's logical with every aspect of it. But in real life? He was the henchman. He was the dude who was cutting the body up and killing people and doing all the crazy stuff that Mark's and Dwayne's characters couldn't do.
So, the Marvel intelligence agents and spies are not around here, in this room, unless they are seriously disguised. They probably are. That plant over there!
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" has already gone into production, but what can you tell us about what we can expect from Captain America's next adventure? Also, what are your overall feelings on being a part of this now growing and expanding Marvel universe? First, I'll say that being a part of it is great. I think that Marvel has it down to a science and they've been very deliberate about what they want and what they don't want out in the world. And they're very focused on timelines as far as releases and stuff. This movie, "Captain America," has kind of become "Avengers 1.5"; if you look at the cast they've put together, if you look at the number of characters that are in this movie. I mean, it's a huge number of superheroes and characters. The basic idea is that you have Captain America, Black Widow, and Falcon that get together to take down the Winter Soldier.
That's it? That's it. [laughs]
You're very good! They've drilled the talking points into your head. You must have to take a Marvel class, like, "This is what you can and can not say, and do not step beyond that boundary." I pretty much read everything that they put in the press, and I'm like, "Got it. Say that in my own way? Got it." And since I've signed on, they're like, "You're really good with press!" "Thanks!" "You don't say anything!" "Yep!" They're not gonna get mad at me, Jack. Noooo.