He is a multi-million dollar corporation unto himself with wide ranging interests and revenue streams as numerous as the battle scars that adorn his frame. But he is a gangster rapper in the eyes the multitude. A mere talking head broadcasting street tales to the general public. But a lie doesn’t magically become the truth just because everyone believes it.
Recently I had the chance to talk with 50 regarding his upcoming film “Freelancers” (opening in select cities, including NYC and LA this weekend). With a supporting cast that features Robert De Niro, Forest Whitaker and Dana Delaney, this is one action-packed ride is yet another worthy offering in Jackson’s fast growing catalog of films.
“‘Freelancers’ is a script I read that came to the office, people send stuff to the office all the time,” said 50 of how he came across the script. “Different agencies send stuff all the time and I just have to sit and look through them. It was one of the things that stood out to me.”
Though Robert De Niro’s time on the screen is short, his role is impactful and he puts his special spin on it as well. It’s not like De Niro just works with anyone. I asked Jackson how he got De Niro to be a part of this endeavor.
“How we got De Niro is, actually I already have a little relationship with him,” he explained. “The first project we were supposed to work on was a project called ‘Streets of Blood’, but I ended up going on and shooting that project with Val Kilmer and Sharon Stone. I did financing for the film at the time and that developed my appetite for producing a film as well.
In my humble opinion, Forest Whitaker is one of the most underrated actors of the silver screen in modern history. He becomes each character in all every way noticeable. He walks differently, speaks differently even appears to have different morals. I had to ask 50 how was it for him to work with such a talent.
“He’s amazing. There were points when we were doings scene where I didn’t know if he had actually gotten drunk,” said Jackson. “After awhile I didn’t know if he was really drunk because he was in character the whole time. There’s was a scene where I actually made a mistake of a physical nature. I actually hit him in the back of the head with the butt from a shotgun. Myself, I’m thinking ‘Oh sh*t! I didn’t mean to hit him with the actual shotgun!’ He went down and stayed in character the entire time. Then, after the director said cut, he said ‘What the f*ck is you doing?’ I was like ‘Yo, I’m sorry.’ He backed into me when I was actually swinging though. It’s really, really interesting being in the presence of that caliber talent. It was great. It was an amazing experience for me.”
“The whole project was exciting like that,” he continued. “Every scene I had something going on that was a challenge for me and it was exciting to be there. I changed around the scenes so it was all in (chronological order). The director could have made 5 or 6 different films from all the different scenes.”
In some of his past projects 50 cent didn’t appear to do much acting. It was just 50 cent in every role. But in “Freelancers” one can notice a growth in his acting ability. I asked him how that came about.
“For me it’s developing a comfort with the work itself,” he explained. “I’ve gotten to the point now where I can do things that don’t come directly from me. My character is doing these things, no problem! When I’m in the actual role it’s not me. It’s the character. But I do offer less of my personality through music than I would through television or something like that. You cut it on for different things at that particular time. Look at the perception of 50 cent versus what you see on Oprah. There’s an extreme difference.”
As was alluded to in the opening paragraph of this article, many people think they know who the real Curtis Jackson is. Most of those people can’t imagine him as anything other than a rapper.
“Anyone who is a fan of hip hop culture will say ‘Yeah, I know exactly who 50 cent is’. Because every thing that I had done had coincided with their initial idea of who I am. I’ve offered things to Oprah, and some other platforms, I’m actually giving them a portion of Curtis. So, these projects help me actively grow as an artist,” he explained. “Well people look at the situation and say ‘Well, you’re a rapper. That’s what you do. You rap and that’s where you came from and you were successful at it.’ From there I have been able to branch out and do other things successfully. Now I’ve developed a passion for film and television, which is a natural thing. Think about this, after you’ve done music full time you begin to respect people’s choices. I’ve been doing music since 97. I don’t think there’s a song that you can put out where I couldn’t write my version of that. Once I have the topic I can write a verse to it. So, I can respect artists’ choices if they have a creative vision that I’m interested in. I could always put a creative twist to it. But film and television is something that you have to respect in a different way. Then, when you start to develop a passion for it and over time start really working on it, it’s exciting. It’s a whole new time and it’s comparable to the energy that I had when I started doing music.”
Haven’t seen any commercials about “Freelancers”? One would think that, with such a cast, it would be all over the major television and radio stations. As we said up top, the film opens in (select) theaters on August 10 so the promotional blitz should be in full effect, right? 50 has a master plan to maximize profits. He schooled me to some facts about the film industry that I was only vaguely familiar with, but 50 broke it down for me.
“It’s coming out in theaters first, then straight to DVD. I think the future of the film business is going to be on demand. I’ve been in the green with all the projects that I’ve released up to this point. I feel like I should just put it out there so they can actually see it the right way (on the big screen), then sending it to DVD will actually enhance the sales. That’s why I made that adjustment. I think that is the right way to do it. Ok, check this out, according to SAG (Screen Actors Guild) 4,200 films are made each year. There aren’t enough blocks, not enough time, there aren’t enough stations for those 4,200 films to be marketed and promoted properly leading up to all their releases. On top of that, those 4,200 that are being released are what SAG is reporting. What about the non-union films that are being made out there? You know that there are nice cameras that maybe tourists are carrying that have the capability of shooting high quality footage. Once you have knowledge of these things, there has to be a way that the work can get out.”
But the average filmmaker can’t do that, right? Can they? Every film needs to throw millions at media outlets for marketing purposes, right? 50 Cent is a household name, but director Joe Schmo would never get away with that. Well, according to 50, that’s not an accurate assumption.
“A lot of people will look and say ‘Oh, well your films are different’. That’s because they don’t understand the business. They don’t understand why so many films go straight to DVD, but straight to DVD is the film business. The majority of the projects that made the film company a profit were those projects.”
Once again, “Freelancers” opens in select theaters on August 10 and then it’s headed to DVD on August 21.
Next up – film wise for 50 Cent – are “Fire with Fire,” also starring Sylvester Stallone, Rosario Dawson and Bruce Willis and “Frozen Ground,” starring Nicholas Cage, John Cussack and Vanessa Hudgins. But just when you think it’s over, 50 also has a film called “The Tomb” which he stars in with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Also, keep an eye out for a continuation of my conversation with 50 as he goes in depth about his new career move as a boxing promoter, his upcoming musical endeavors and much more.