As Michael Bay's larger-than-life action comedy Pain & Gain rolls out in theaters this Friday, I got a chance to speak with Anthony Mackie about his role in the film as Adrian Doorbal, a bodybuilder who teams with his muscle-head buddies to pull off an extortion and kidnapping scheme that goes terribly wrong. As previously posted, the plot is based on a real-life and rather gruesome crime story featured in a 1999 Miami New Times article. Find S&A's review of the film here.
It was a quick chat, and though we didn't get a chance to delve as deep as I would've liked, Mackie was able to give his thoughts on making the film as well as some insight into his career, especially in light of the questions raised by Dan's article late last week.
Specifically, Mackie read that article and responded to whether he has a desire to move from consummate co-star to consistent leading man. He also gave a few updates on some of his upcoming projects that we can look forward to.
JT: It was interesting to see an over-the-top action comedy that stems from such dark subject matter. What attracted you to Pain & Gain?
AM: I really wanted to work with Michael [Bay], Mark [Wahlberg] and Dwayne [Johnson]. I'd always been a fan of theirs. The script is so different from anything I've read and this character is so different from any character I've played before, so I was just excited by the idea of bringing him to life.
JT: Tell me about your character Adrian Doorbal.
AM: Adrian is basically the grounding force in the film. He's the logical one, if there's any such thing as logic in these three guys' lives. He's the one that brings the voice of reason to all the chaos that they're causing, since he truly just wants to achieve the barest essence of the American dream.
JT: It seems like it must have been a fun set to work on. Tell me about your experience filming this in Florida with Michael Bay and the rest of the cast.
AM: It was a lot of fun. Everyone came to this movie ready to work and there wasn't a day when someone wasn't prepared or didn't have an idea for their character or how make it better. And you can just tell - if you look at Dwayne's performance, it's unlike anything Dwayne has ever done. Mark gets in the front seat of this movie and drives it all the way to the end. Everybody humbled themselves to try to make a special movie, and I think that's why it comes off so well.
JT: Tell me about working with Rebel Wilson as your love interest.
AM: Rebel is a giver. The first rule of comedy is to never say no, and everything I threw at Rebel, she never said no. I think that's why our characters work so well together.
JT: Did you deviate much from the script considering that this is
based on a true story? Was improvisation a big part of the film?
AM: Definitely, and Michael encouraged that. The scenes worked and were funny, but Michael would get his scene and then he would give us a take or two to add to it. And a lot of what you see is just us horsing around and making light of the situation, because it was a drab situation to begin with.
JT: Do you have any favorite scenes?
AM: It would probably be Dwayne trying to rob the armored car.
JT: Your characters are bodybuilders and everyone in the film is huge. What kind
of physical preparation went into the role?
AM: I worked out all day every day. I changed my diet, and really just went to the gym and pushed myself as hard as I could. And then once we started shooting, Mark and I would work out every day together in the morning and he would push me further than I thought I could be pushed.
JT: You've played so many different kinds of characters. How do you go about choosing what you'll do next? Is it just about versatility?
AM: It's about building a career. When I read a script I always compare it to the other projects I've done. Some of them are similar - there's only so many ways you can interpret a cop - but at the same time, you always try to find something unique about a character just to keep yourself interested. So it's always about looking for that thing that people haven't seen you do.
JT: There's been some talk on our site lately about your career and whether you'll go on to play the leading man more consistently, in large studio films. Is that your goal, or do you prefer to stay under the radar?
AM: Hollywood's a business, and until someone puts their finger on you and decides you're the guy who's going to carry that movie, it's not going to happen. So I'm just enjoying the position that I'm in right now and trying to make the most of it.
JT: So would you say that yes, Anthony Mackie wants to be "the guy"?
AM: [Laughs]. Most of the time when you see a movie, the best character in the movie is not "the guy," it's the guy next to the guy. So I enjoy playing "the guy next to the guy" because it's always - in almost every movie last year - the best character in the movie. It's just fun as an actor to get the opportunity to do something where you can really sink your teeth into it.
JT: Tell me about what you're working on next.
AM: Right now I'm going into Captain America 2, playing the Falcon opposite Captain America. The two of us along with Black Widow are taking down the Winter Soldier.
JT: Any updates on Bolden, where you play New Orleans jazz
musician Buddy Bolden? It's been listed as in 'post production,' but any
idea how soon we'll see it come to fruition?
AM: I'm not sure what's going on with Bolden. It's been six years, so I've decided I was finished.
JT: What about the Jesse Owens biopic you're set to star in?
AM: We're constantly working. We're putting the script together now and pushing along, trying to see if anyone's willing to tell the greatest story in American history.
Pain & Gain opens in theaters tomorrow, April 26.