Led by Sean Penn and Josh Brolin, the film is based on the true story of the LAPD’s fight to keep East Coast mafia leader Mickey Cohen from starting up an illegal crime circle in Los Angeles in the 1940s.
Police Chief William “Whiskey Bill” Parker, played by Nick Nolte, puts together a brood of police officers for an off-the-record operation to root out Cohen’s operation and stop him by any means.
One of the officers recruited for the covert operation is Mackie’s character, ‘Officer Coleman Harris’ – a straight shooter who knows his way around a switchblade and uses it in some pretty creative ways. Actor Michael Peña also stars in the film as ‘Officer Navidad Ramirez,’ who is also recruited to get Cohen.
Mackie’s character, Harris, is the only African-American cop on an elite LAPD squad fighting to keep the East Coast Mafia from taking over Los Angeles in the late 1940s.
“Yeah, I’m the only black man in this film,” says Mackie, who is also slated to play Falcon, the first African-American superhero, in “The Avengers 2.” “That’s the story of my life. If you look at 1949, it’s not like America was the most racially advanced place on the planet. There weren’t a lot of black cops. So if you were a black cop, you had to be the best of the best.”
As we said, in a movie full of tommy guns and snub nose .38s, Harris’ weapon of choice is switchblade, which Mackie views as a sign of strength.
He says. “When I take you out, I want you to know that I’m there with you. I don’t want to shoot you for from far away.”
During press for the film director Ruben Fleischer revealed why it was important to cast both an African American and a Hispanic actor in “Gangster Squad.”
“I think we wanted to make sure that in casting and in construction of the story that it was as reflective as the city is now, so it wasn’t only white. “
He goes on to reveal that Brolin’s character, ‘Sgt. John O’Mara’s’ best friend was Tom Bradley, who went on to become a police chief and mayor of Los Angeles – and wanted to convey that in casting.
In working with Mackie as ‘Officer Harris,’ a role producers first considered Jamie Foxx for, Brolin said:
“I think we came out with an amazing cast that wouldn’t necessarily do… like why would they do smaller parts like that cause a lot of those guys are leading guys now… and when you got Anthony Mackie and Michael Peña and Robert Patrick on the set together it’s absolute f*cking chaos! And it’s a lot of fun to watch. ”
Check out Anthony Mackie in “Gangster Squad” in theaters today!