Gangsta Trippin'

When Total Film was a wee nipper a stray lump of potato from an enemy spud gun took weeks to heal and the mental scars remain today – the mere sight of a jacket spud can unravel years of expensive therapy. Now we’re squaring up to a man who once absorbed nine bullets and came back smiling.

“Okay, you got two minutes man…” he says, serious as a heart attack, motioning to the door. TF has two choices - sit here and soil ourselves or laugh it off – luckily the latter does the trick as 50 Cent is just kidding, something he does a lot.

We catch the hugely successful rap artist in good spirits, in a plush London hotel as he gets ready for the premiere of his debut movie. Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ explodes into cinemas this week carrying a hefty chunk of luggage along with it. Based on its lead actor’s rapid rise to fame in the shady world of hip hop, there are drugs and a truckload of bad language but worst of all, some schmuck put a gun on the original US poster release.

“The one thing I said was make sure the posters don’t have any fucking guns on them,” helmer Jim Sheridan states in his rich Dublin tones. “It’s not a movie about guns but in the end, who cares if there was a gun on a poster? Plenty of movies use guns on posters.” Admittedly not the best of starts to the promotional campaign trail. While we’re on the subject of getting started, sitting with Fifty Cent – real name Curtis Jackson - and meeting Sheridan you have to wonder how these two ever ended up in a room together?

“I met Jim Sheridan through Bono from U2,” Fifty says with a smile. That’s got to feel good saying that hasn’t it? He grins. “Three years ago saying something like that would have been a fairytale, there were times when I felt like I was the only person who knew I was going to be successful.” But successful he damn sure is, since the first week of sales for his debut album shifted 900,000 copies, the New York born star has never looked back.

“After the sales of my record they approached me with the idea for the film and I thought it sounded okay.” Fifty says, with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Then they had a writer Terry Winters come out with me and spent ten weeks compiling information with me to write the screenplay. It was only after reading that that I got excited about being part of the film.”

But surely it’s a daunting step from scowling in rap videos to acting for a man like Sheridan? “There is a leap because when you get on a movie set and he wants you angry, he wants you angry now. There’s an assumption that because of the music and the content being as it is, you have to be aggressive but Jim will tell you that one of the things he was surprised about was me not displaying aggression.”
Sheridan himself admits that despite not having any preconceptions about the star, he was massively impressed with Fifty’s dedication to his art. “Name me another first-time actor that could work on one scene for five hours on his first day, with me saying ‘let’s go again… and again’ and not once complain? He came back the next day with the same attitude. It was a great experience.”

High praise indeed but then being around Jackson and listening to him speak, you realise this is a deeply shrewd businessman, who knows that when you get the opportunity to star alongside people such as Terrence Howard (Crash), you listen and take notes. “Terrence is great man, a great actor and he’s real charismatic - he’s just not a hard person to be around.” Flying the flag for the UK in Get Rich are Bullet Boy Ashley Walters – “I showed Ashley New York, we spent a lot of time together on set and he is cool man” - and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (The Bourne Identity), who portrays street boss Majestic. “He’s fucked up!” Jackson laughs. “He’s a method actor so when he came on set he was already in character. I think that shit’ll drive you crazy. They say it takes thirty days to make a habit so even if you change your eating habits and everything else you do for thirty days, at some point, you’ll find a piece of that character. So, if someone upsets him, he might be Majestic for ten minutes you know what I mean?” He chuckles.

At this point, a fella who doesn’t seem too keen on salad enters the room, he’s wearing a G Unit T-shirt and it’s clearly time Fifty wasn’t here. So with the buzz of a premiere vibrating through him, the amiable star admits that he’s not got any acting projects in the pipeline. "When I come across a screenplay that excites me as much as my life story, I’ll commit to a role,” he states with a smile. But there’s a lot of profit in movies and he admits there is another area of Hollywood that he’s got the scent for. “I’m actually doing a development deal now so I’ll be producing films in the future.”

The boy got rich and he didn’t die… no wonder he’s so damn happy all time.

The Total Film team are made up of the finest minds in all of film journalism. They are: Editor Jane Crowther, Deputy Editor Matt Maytum, Reviews Ed Matthew Leyland, News Editor Jordan Farley, and Online Editor Emily Murray. Expect exclusive news, reviews, features, and more from the team behind the smarter movie magazine.