GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN' : An Interview with 50 Cent
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GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN: An Interview with 50 Cent
By Wilson Morales
In a year where we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of “Krush Groove”, a film that brought in rap music to mainstream film audiences, we have seen many rappers come into this business and shine such as LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, Will Smith, and more recently Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Mos Def, and Andre “3000” Benjamin. But it takes a special story for a film to be made on a rapper’s life. A few years, the story of Eminem was captivated in the film “8 Mile”, and now we have the story of 50 Cent ready to explode on the big screen. In “Get Rich or Die Tryin”, 50 Cent plays the role of Marcus, a drug dealer who was shot nine times and left for dead, but resurrected to become a successful hip hop artist. In speaking with blackfilm.com, 50 Cent talks about the difference between the film and his life, the nude scenes, and working on the soundtrack for the film.
Did this film feel like therapy for you to relive your life again?
50 Cent: It was therapeutic. There were things in my life that I hadn’t put a lot of thought into. The film forces you to go back to certain places in order to make reference to the emotion, which you are supposed to display on actual screen. Some people think it should be easier to play a role based on your actual experiences but I think it might be more difficult because sure you have to research and figure out how your character would react to certain things and having yourself to make reference to; once you get yourself in that mood, there’s so much of you to judge in character, when you get to that point it’s difficult to get out of it and go to the next thing because it’s a real experience.
There’s a line in the film that’s not meant to be funny but it’s when the guy who shoots your character goes, “I shot him nine times”. That scene is about you and folks are laughing. How do you feel about that scene?
50 Cent: It’s something to smile about once you get past it. For me, I lost something before I got shot and I found out afterwards. My grandparents had raised me Baptist and bringing up religion in any form would be a good way to run me out the room. My lifestyle wasn’t coinciding with the religious beliefs I was raised, the way I raised to believe; so after being shot nine times, having things happen to you so don’t have to answer to the questions leads you to believe in the higher power at that point.
Your relationship with Eminem I believe is very powerful; and looking at his life and I’m sure you have watched “8 Mile”, did you find it somewhat similar that you and he would have a similar background in terms of growing up?
50 Cent: That’s the biggest similarity I think; both of us not having a relationship with our fathers and not having finances early on. It’s a big thing to adjust. When you come from where the both of us come from, two things happen. When you’re from the bottom and you become successful, either people are inspired by it or they envy I; so it changes in a lot of ways. That’s why D12, his rap group, is so important to him. If they couldn’t rap half as good as they rap now, he would still support them and be with them constantly because they are more than a group to him. It’s actually his support system; those are his friends.
Although the film is a fictional story, how much of your life is in the film?
50 Cent: It’s about 75% actual.
Is there anything in there that isn’t true?
50 Cent: Not really because in working with Terry Winters, I had the option to change things. What’s fictional is the part where I’m so much in search for my father. I got to the end of the film early in my life and I felt like I’m supposed to be able to do that without that assistance at this point. The things that my father would have been able to help me at probably would have been when I made the decision to go out and hustle. Because he wasn’t physically present to provide guidance at that point, I don’t think it’s necessary at this point. I’m a grown man now.
How many Jim Sheridan films had you seen before you knew he would be the director of this film?
50 Cent: I watched “My Left Foot” and “The Boxer”.
Was it before you knew he was going to direct this?
50 Cent: No, no. It was afterwards. Are you kidding me? (Laughs). After they told me it was possible that he would be the director, I wanted to look at his work and then after watching it, I was confident having him lead me. I didn’t butt in when they started to do casting. I let it be based on his judgment.
Was it funny to have an Irish direct your life story?
50 Cent: It wasn’t. It wasn’t because we spent so much time around each other talking. There’s actually a scene in the film that comes from us just having a conversation. I had an acting coach for a moment and in the first week when we were in rehearsals, Jim felt we would be overacting if we acted without being on the set, and she (my coach) didn’t think she was necessary because of how close Jim was working with me and we moved forward and worked five days a week. With the two days we had off, I spent with Jim preparing for the next five days and while we were talking about things, I was telling him my tongue was feeling funny because… you know how it feels when you have a lemon in your mouth? My tastebuds do that because I have a fragment from the bullet I still have in my tongue and I put a finger in my mouth and I showed him. He felt it and said, “Ooo” and that’s where the scene with Joy (Bryant) comes from before the love scene starts.
How do you feel about your performance?
50 Cent: I feel great about it. I know that it’s not 50 Cent up there. Me as a writer, I haven’t shown many dimensions as I show in the actual film. They haven’t seen me in vulnerable points. I’m usually aggressive. Hip-hop is aggressive; the nature of it, the battling and stuff like that so you don’t get a chance to show those characters, that portion of you.
How was it working with Joy Bryant and then doing the love scene?
50 Cent: I got comfortable working with Joy on the other scenes and then when we got to the love scene, it was a little different. It’s almost like being in this room naked with a bunch of people around you. In that case, it was 34 people on the set.
What was harder, being naked in the love scene or being naked during the bathroom scene when you are being attacked?
50 Cent: The bathroom scene. Being naked with a woman is better than being naked with five men. (laughs) You know what I mean? We were supposed to shoot the scene above the waist and they had us put on these biker shorts that was exactly the same color as our skin and we went and got in the water and what happened is even if the fabric was matching your skin complexion, once it gets wet, it gets darker and changes. Jim was like, “This is not going to work.” And he said to me, “You think you can take it off?” I was like, “You gotta be kidding me, right?” He then said, “Listen, if you do it, everybody would do it.”
Do you think New York is one of the hardest places to live in the world?
50 Cent: I’ve been to some places that are a lot harder. I’ve been to Nigeria and it’s a lot less there. I think that when you go places and you see people that have less financially, the whole setup is just less; and the living is hard. When you watch a bootlegger on the streets selling CDs and cassettes, they are doing the same thing in Africa, but it’s a bowl full of fruit. It’s the same concept. That’s why as soon as they get $3, they are mailing it home.
Were you driven by money?
50 Cent: Well, when you grow up without finances, finances seem like the answer to all you problems. It’s not until acquire it, that you realize that there are always obstacles in life. Your argument between you and your girlfriend could stem from bills or her deciding to buy shoes when you don’t think it was the right time to do that because with finances, if you are rich, you don’t have those arguments.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?
50 Cent: That I have bad intentions. Just telling the truth makes me the worst person that they have seen so far. If you look at a newspaper and all the things that they show you, they choose what to show you everyday. If I could just take one week and pick the two hospitals in my neighborhood and keep track of everyone who comes in with gun shot wounds or stab wounds or any type of violent crime, you will understand why music is so aggressive.
How was it working with Adewale (Akinnuoye-Agbaje), who plays the Drug Lord in the film?
50 Cent: Adewale is a great actor and it wasn’t a pleasure working with him to begin with because he came into rehearsals the very first time in character, so he already knew his character had some sort of hatred towards me and he was kinda like that until towards the end of the film; and while we were in New York and shooting the exteriors, he wind down and I got a chance to meet Adewale.
How was it working with the great Bill Duke?
50 Cent: Bill Duke is incredible. I did this scene with him in the prison where he delivered dialogue that was like two minutes and he didn’t blink once. I swear to God. When you look at the film, and you see he has the same look all the time, I don’t know how he does it. I tried to have a straight look like him, but couldn’t hold it.
If you couldn’t play the role of Marcus, what other actor do you think could have played the part and why?
50 Cent: Jamie Foxx. I’ve met him and I think he’s cool, but I would want him to spend time with me so he understands the actual role he would be walking into.
How was working with Terrence (Howard)?
50 Cent: Terrence is also incredible, but don’t tell him cause his head would get big. (Laughs) He’s exciting to work with. I think he has a lot of information people don’t know.
Do you think this film glorifies violence to a certain degree?
50 Cent: No. I think it tells the truth to a point of what actually goes on from time to time.
How do you balance being a gangster and a rapper?
50 Cent: When I’m writing my music, I’m writing from Curtis Jackson’s perspective and in the film, if the dialogue says I’m a gangster, then I’m a gangster. There are points that I’m saying and doing things in the film that I wouldn’t do. If not, then I wouldn’t be acting at all. There’s a scene in the film where I tell my grandparents that it’s their fault, well, in my head, I felt like it was their fault. If I didn’t have to hide the gun, then I wouldn’t have misplaced it in the wrong place and brought it to school and got caught, but I would never say those things to my grandparents because I was raised to respect my elders.
What about the soundtrack?
50 Cent: The soundtrack is great. I actually took concepts for the records from the scenes. I didn’t just go ahead and write what I wanted to write just to make a good record. The overall mood of the film and the actual title I had for it before “Get Rich or Die Tryin” was “Hustler’s Ambition” and we ended up not using it because of Terrence Howard’s Hustle and Flow, and we went with the current title. There’s a scene in the film with the younger version of my character is looking through a storefront at sneakers. At the point, he’s window shopping. I based the song, “Window Shopping” based on that. I just didn’t write it from the artist’s perspective. I wrote it from 50 Cent’s perspective.
How many pairs of sneakers do you have now?
50 Cent: I own a million pairs.
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