In a day and age when box office flicks — like ‘Lottery Ticket’ and ‘Takers’ — star rap elite such as T.I., Ice Cube and Bow Wow, one acclaimed Hollywood actor is disgruntled about how rappers are ruining his profession.
Juilliard-trained Anthony Mackie, who starred in the Academy Award-winning film ‘The Hurt Locker,’ isn’t biting his tongue about how he feels about today’s movie casting.
“I don’t go into the hospital and let the janitor perform surgery on me, you know what I mean?” Mackie told Details magazine.
He continued, “If you look at what Ice Cube, LL Cool J, and Queen Latifah have been able to do, it’s ridiculous to say their talents should be disregarded because they started out in music. At the same time, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Sam Jackson these days, because young actors wouldn’t be given those roles now.”
Jackson was one of the first leading African American actors to take a staunch stand against rappers being cast in movies over trained actors.
Back in 2002, despite starring in films alongside many mainstream rappers, including Tupac Shakur (‘Juice’), Latifah (‘Sphere’), Eve, Ice Cube and Xzibit (‘XXX’), and David Banner (‘Black Snake Moan’), the ‘Star Wars’ actor was vocal about his feelings on rappers.
”To take people from the music world and give them the same kind of credibility and weight that you give me, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker — that’s like an aberration to me; you just can’t do that,” Jackson said.
“‘It’s not my job to lend credibility to so-and-so rapper who’s just coming into the business,” he continued. “I know there’s some young actor sitting in New York or in L.A. who’s spent half of his life learning how to act and sacrificing to learn his craft but isn’t going to get his opportunity … because of some actor who’s been created — and you can use the word ‘actor’ loosely,”
Mackie, who early in his career was Don Cheadle’s understudy in the off-Broadway show ‘Topdog/Underdog’ but quit when Mos Def replaced him, echoed Jackson’s sentiment.
“The film business is destroying itself by not breeding talent or nurturing young actors — and that’s why all movies suck now.”
In a 2009 interview with Britain’s Pride magazine, Nia Long also discussed her thoughts on pop singers and rappers taking roles from trained actors.
“It’s just not about how talented you are anymore. It’s about how much box office revenue will this person generate,” she said.
“When you see certain people – we won’t name names – they just don’t have the skill and no one in their team has said, ‘You need acting classes.’ If you’re a singer, not an actress, you should sing. If you’re a rapper, you should rap.”
Mackie was so frustrated with the film business, he took a break and retreated to his hometown of New Orleans.
“I took a hiatus. I went back home to New Orleans and chilled out, enjoyed a few daiquiris and built a house. I got a mask and some dirty old clothes and rebuilt an 1865 Victorian bed-and-breakfast. Sheetrock and plastering — that’s my thing. If the acting don’t work out, I’ll have a future in construction.
But now, he’s back and in large part due to his star turn in ‘Hurt Locker.’ And he’s certainly not hurting for work.
Mackie in ‘Hurt Locker’
In addition to opening up a new bar in Brooklyn called NoBar, the 30-year-old thespian, who just wrapped a Broadway run in ‘A Behanding in Spokane’ with Christopher Walken, will soon star as a bad-guy promoter in ‘Real Steel,’ which he describes as “like Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots for adults.”
Mackie is also set to star in ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ with Emily Blunt and Matt Damon and ‘Bolden,’ a story about New Orleans jazz musician Buddy Bolden.