Anthony Mackie Interview: Hugh Jackman’s Guns, “Gangster Squad”, and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”

MovieViral was granted a very cool interview with the ever so funny and electric Anthony Mackie, who plays as Finn a charismatic robot-boxing promoter in Real Steel, opening in theaters October 7th.

The actor was not afraid to talk about his influences and the road that has lead up to his well deserved career. But we thought you like to read more about Real Steel and the other movies he is involved in slated for a release in the near future like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Movie Viral: What excited you about the role?

Anthony Mackie: In my career I haven’t had to opportunity to do anything rambunctious and outlandish, or have the opportunity to wear leather and baby oil at the same time and when I read the script I was like “Oh shit time to have some fun!” so I told Shawn what I wanted to do and he was like “Uhh okay.” So we showed up on the set the first day and did a rehearsal and wanted to make sure I looked right next to Hugh “fucking” Jackman, and Shawn was like “oh that’s so great! That’s so cool” you know Shawn, so it kind of worked out. I was looking for something to have fun with.

MV: Were you inspired by Don King or did you add your own spin to the character?

Mackie: No it was 100% Don King. When I was in high school, I read this whole thing about Don King and he had this quote that said “Set yourself on fire and the world will pay to watch you burn.” I thought that was the most amazing thing I ever heard and I wrote it on my wall and everything. With this I feel like there is an element of Don King that people don’t really pay attention to. Besides Muhammad Ali, he is the second most charismatic and most influential person in the world of boxing and a lot of people take that for granted because of all the crazy shit he said. But I really feel like there is something beautiful about the art and craft he brought to boxing and what he brought to the brought to the world of boxing and turning it into a billion dollar business. So I tried to angle Finn into that so if there was a sequel that I could finally get the hair. I asked Shawn if I could get the hair but he said no.

MV: Can you talk about Hugh’s guns?

Mackie: THERE BEAUTIFUL! Man crush alert. Hugh’s a great guy and you know when we were shooting the movie he wasn’t working out so he was regular guy size. But I don’t know if Australians can become regular size guys. I mean he’s a great guy, he is always open and responsive and just really cool. The dude doesn’t have a negative bone in his body and its weird for somebody to play Wolverine and be just a jacked up wannabe crazy dude. But he is not at all and it shows his versatility as an actor but also his humility as a human being.

MV: You were quoted as being a bit intimated when you first saw the robots, was that a surprise and why?

Mackie: Its not everyday you get to see a nine-foot robot mean mugging you. You go to a certain night club or bar and you see a 6’4” black dude like grunting at you. We’ve all seen them. But when you see a nine foot tall animated robot and all you see is grunting its very hard. It was very intimidating at first; it was hard at first. I just have this fear, I call it the Jack Bauer effect, when something in the room is not normal, I wait for that thing to go crazy and kill everybody in the room. So the whole time it was like “uuuhh it’s a robot.” You know its kinda like there is a Great Dane in the room, it’s a nice doggie until it goes up an mauls my face. So it’s kinda like that.

MV: So, do you think there’s a future in robot boxing?

Mackie: That’s why I love this movie so much. If you look at what Shawn chronicled, in the scope of this film, it’s along the lines of where we are with boxing. No one really cares about the boxing federation anymore, so everyone is watching MMA, and that has become a billion dollar business now. But, that’s going to get to the point where it’s just too much. It’s like, “Just stop hitting him in the face! Once he hits the mat, don’t jump eight feet in the air and land on his nose with your knee. Don’t do it!” It’s going to get to the point where people are like, “Okay, this dude died in the ring. We can’t condone this.” So, how can we get the gore we want and have people not die? Robots! It’s a brilliant concept for a film, especially at the time we’re at, living in Bush-onomics and the state of boxing.

That’s why I loved it so much, and I’m glad that it turned out the way it did. You can go see this film with a female, and she won’t be put off. Usually, when people make CGI movies or movies that cost over $100 million that are spectacle events, it looks amazing, but the story sucks and you leave there like, “I just spent $30 on popcorn and root beer because I know I didn’t pay for that damn movie!” This is one of the first times I’ve seen a movie where the graphics are insane, and the story is actually there to back it up. I look at it as Rocky. By the time the movie is over, you’re cheering for that robot. You’re cheering, so that the good guy wins. You don’t get that that much anymore.

MV: Is there something specific you look for in the roles?

Mackie: I always look for something different. I feel like I’m blessed because I get to do what I love. So why wouldn’t I go to work and have a enjoy myself and do something different and challenge myself. So I always try to find something weird and creative. You know Johnny Depp shouldn’t be the only one doing this shit. I wanna have fun, I wanna put eyes on my eye lids. So I just try. I want to have some Willy Wonka fun, I wanna wear make-up. Not in an LA way. But I always look for something different and fun and interestingly weird. Not weird, I don’t want to be weird, but fun. So if it’s different than everything else that I have done, nine times out of ten I’ll do it.

MV: What was it about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter that most interested you?

Mackie: ARE YOU SERIOUS! No. I read the book and the book was interesting. I’m a firm believer in recontextualizing history. I feel like education that is the only aspect of our culture that is one-dimensional. You have kids, they go home and play video games with “tall this,” “3D TVs, and crazy 3D phones. I have a cell phone where I can play a game and I go to school and it’s just a blackboard with an old lady and a piece of chalk. To think you can learn in that way. So I think what (author/screenwriter) Seth (Grahame-Smith) did with this book was recontextualize history. That way you go and look up Abraham Lincoln and find out that his best friend was a black dude named William H. Johnson, who died on their way back from Gettysburg, he paid with money out of his own pocket to have him buried in Arlington cemetery and his headstone read “William H. Johnson: Citizen.” If you have to add vampires to history to make people interested, then I am with that. I mean I will do Martin Luther King eel fisherman, I mean go back and read Martin Luther King because he was a dynamic figure in our history.

MV: How was it to work with Timur Bekmambetov, as a director?

Mackie: Timur has made some dope as movies. So If Timur calls you, you do a movie with Timur.

MV: Who are you playing in The Gangster Squad?

Mackie: I play Lieutenant Harris. Basically, the movie is set in the late 1940′s, and it’s based on Mickey Cohen (played by Sean Penn) and how he ran L.A., by the hook or by the crook. My character was promoted to Sergeant, and the first task he was given was something he didn’t really buy. It didn’t sit right with him, ethically. So, he handed in his promotion and decided he wanted to get the heroin off the streets in the black neighborhoods. So, he ran the streets in the black neighborhood with an iron fist. Josh Brolin’s character comes to me because he knows of my special skills, being a weapons expert and a guy who just has his ears and nose to the street, and asks me to be a part of The Gangster Squad. My character looks at it like, “If I can get Mickey Cohen, I can stop the heroin from comin’.

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