50 Cent's first outing in films wasn't exactly a successful one. Amidst poor reviews, many of them pointing at his ability as an actor, and only $30 million at the box-office it's safe to say Get Rich or Die Tryin' sort of died tryin'. With his second effort we meet a film called Home of the Brave, centering on the war in Iraq and what happens when the soldiers return home. 50's role as Jamal isn't an easy one, but it looks like he has made a few improvements in his acting and in talking to him it seems like he isn't about to give up as an actor.
What was it about this movie that made you really pursue it?
50 Cent: It was the action in it that I really wanted to be a part of and it was different than everything I had seen so far from a war perspective. A lot of war films are set during the war and that's it and this film is about re-entering society after the experience of war.
I actually enjoy war films. Prior to doing the research for my character I just watched the films that I had seen that had those types of action scenes in them as entertainment. It's after you start to do the research and you start to see people and images even more graphic than what you have seen in film. You start to have a different outlook on it.
And you were just really focused on the acting side of it, outside of the music…
50 Cent: Absolutely, that's why I didn't create the single for the soundtrack.
Talk about filming in Morocco and your experiences there.
50 Cent: Yeah, don't think because it sounds sexy that it is. Morocco, it's crazy man, we were in Iraq. You see the set, what it looked like in the film, that's what it looked like. Just going out there only required me to be there for about 11 days to shoot my portion of the action and the war scenes. It was cool, I fasted while I was out there because their food standards are a little bit different.
How about filming in Spokane?
50 Cent: After I left from there I went home for about a week and then they called me to Spokane, Washington. Have any of you been to Spokane, Washington before? Try not to ever go to Spokane, Washington. It was so quiet, when they would say "cut" you just wanna say, "Wait, can we just try that one more time?" Because it's only like six o'clock and we were going to be there and I am going to go back to the hotel and do nothing until it's time to come back here. It worked out though, it gave me plenty of time to be focused on everything else that I had to do.
Irwin Winkler wasn't keen to cast you at first, what was it that you did to impress him?
50 Cent: I threatened him. [smiling] No, I'm just kidding… People have a perception of me based on the aggressive content of my music, but that is a reflection of the environment I grew up in and not all that I am. Coming up where I am from I have to be two people, aggressive enough to get by in my neighborhood and I had to be my grandmother's baby.
Your character seemed a little more aggressive when he got home, was that a conscious thing on your part?
50 Cent: Absolutely, that was just choices that I made. When you build so much anticipation toward getting home, Jamal he was looking forward to being back with Keisha, then when he gets home nothing's right after the experience. Everything is not happening on his time, whether it's his discharge, the girl wouldn't talk to him, eight weeks and wouldn't kiss him. He's got issues and he is feeling like it is from the actual experience of the war.
They tell you that it's a legitimate kill, but you are still a human being killing another human being. Some people don't adjust to that very well. I have had the opportunity to perform in front of the soldiers in Iraq and I'm sure the people that I met there weren't the people that their loved ones missed back here. I believe a spirit changes with that much death around you. If you start in a platoon of 50 people and then the platoon is 47, and then the platoon is 30 and then the room is filled up again. Majority of them have death notes that they wrote to the people when they die, because they have to be conscious that any one of these days I could not come back in here.
I think that changes your entire perspective on everything.
After everything Sam Jackson said in the past did you know he was in this movie when you went after the part?
50 Cent: Yeah, Sam said he wouldn't do a film with a rapper. I don't think he meant he wouldn't do a film with Will Smith, who's a rapper, or Queen Latifah, who's a rapper, or Ice Cube, who's a rapper. Initially what I thought when I heard that was he meant he didn't want to do a film under a rapper. A film that's based on my life story couldn't possibly be a film starring Samuel Jackson and 50 Cent. It had to be 50 Cent and Samuel Jackson. He works hard to get where he is and from the perspective that he is speaking you have to understand it, you've got people who bring a lot of work, consider themselves an actor since they were little kids, went to school for it forever and they see someone with an opportunity because of the interest generated through music it absolutely makes sense to give them a shot on screen.
What was the reason to use your real name instead of just 50 Cent in association with the movie?
50 Cent: Yeah, I think when people see 50 Cent they directly associate it to the music and the aggressive content of the music. They may be disappointed when they see my character and he doesn't have that same aggressive edge that they're familiar with from the music. So I told them to put 50 Cent in the middle so they would know it was me still… [laughing]
Did you have the opportunity to speak with people that had similar experiences to you in the war?
50 Cent: I haven't had the opportunity to speak with people directly that have lost their minds from the experience of the war. I mean my character actually gets killed in a hostage situation so it would be difficult to find people who have already done that. I did get a chance to speak with people that were in war before.
What were the differences and similarities in the lives you came in contact with compared to yours?
50 Cent: There was some shootin' going on in both of them, but they definitely dealing with bullets that are a lot bigger over there than those little 9mm bullets. It's a whole other thing. The things that I have physically endured are minimized by what they have to go through. Even the mental process of what happens if you're there and you don't want to be there anymore? Like you are in jail, you're there now. It's the same, you don't wanna fight, but you got to. If you're blessed and one of the lucky ones that do make it back you've got to fit in with everyone, that was just a television show to them. Because we're not at war here. When you see war in the news you flip from it to the thing that you actually want to see. We don't stop because it is on CNN right now.
Do you think hip hop should play a larger role in speaking out about the war?
50 Cent: You can't say hip hop in general because it is more than just hip hop as a genre of music that has a responsibility to be a part of it. When I travel, music has taken me all over the world, I get a chance to see how different news is broadcast in different areas and it makes me feel like even news is entertainment instead of the condition of the minds in the public. So in the U.S. they'll give us a certain picture of the U.S. and then when you get outside of the country you see the craziest stuff, the craziest things… unbelievable what their perception is of the U.S.
Since Get Rich or Die Tryin' what have been some of the scripts that you've read and want to pursue?
50 Cent: This film called New Orleans [now titled Microwave Park] is my next project, me and Robert De Niro and following that it was a screenplay called The Dance, which is myself and Nicolas Cage and I play a fighter in an Angola State Prison he plays a founder of the boxing program in it.
Home of the Brave opens in theaters on December 15, for more on the film click here.