MAKING STRONG IMPACT
Forget Hollywood beefcake Gerard Butler, rap superstar 50 Cent reckons he’s the true star of adrenalin-fuelled heist flick Den of Thieves
Think new heist flick Den of Thieves is Gerard Butler’s movie? Think again, says rap superstar turned actor 50 Cent. “I really appreciate Gerard putting all his time and energy into my movie. But you know, it’s my movie,” he says, giggling in a way only 50 Cent can.
“Strangely enough, the public has been responding like they know it’s my movie.”
The directorial debut of London Has Fallen writer Christian Gudegast, Den of Thieves pits two groups against each other in gritty battle on the streets of LA. There is 50 Cent and Pablo Schreiber’s team of military men turned outlaw bank robbers and Butler’s County Sheriff’s Department major crimes squad, a rough and tumble unit largely indistinguishable from the bad guys.
Caught in the middle is Straight Outta Compton star O’Shea Jackson Jr as the heist crew’s driver being squeezed by Butler’s cops.
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson describes his character Levi Enson as “the strong silent type”, a man who probably shouldn’t be robbing the Federal Reserve.
“He didn’t assess himself to understand that he had too much at stake, too much to risk with his family,” he says.
“Enson’s married, he’s got five kids, big family, and is still willing to do the robbery – because he’s got away with them in the past.
“But he’s not identifying that (Schreiber’s character) Merrimen has unravelled while incarcerated and is not even the same person.”
Enson’s family obligations are rather humorously illustrated in a scene where the heist crew – filled out by some huge Hawaiians – threaten his teenage daughter’s prom date.
It’s a fatherly intimidation ritual even the young 50 Cent had to endure. “I have been on the other side of that, yes I have. Not quite with a garage full of guys,” he laughs, “but I’ve had that conversation.”
As a father himself, 50 Cent is glad he’s had only boys.
“It does help me out! If I had a little girl, I’d totally be pushed around. I don’t know whether I’m prepared to take on that kind of boss,” he admits, laughing.
Back in Den of Thieves, by the time Enson considers bailing on the big job, there’s nowhere left to run.
“Even if he took a bag of money out the back of the truck, he would be running from what he calls his life immediately as he got out,” 50 Cent says. “He would be not able to go anywhere near his wife, anywhere near his five children, none of those things – that’s worse than a jail sentence.”
To prep for the film, the actors were put through boot camp with an ex-military man who 50 Cent describes as having “returned from the war but the war never stopped for him”.
He laughingly outs Jackson Jr for whining during drills but was impressed with how beefy Butler got. Not that he was at all intimidated by the Scotsman.
“I was already big. I was afraid I was going to be too big, actually,” 50 Cent scoffs. “I was doing a lot of cardio to keep myself from looking like The Rock – I didn’t want to look like the only superhero in the middle of regular humans.”
Having focused more on film and TV projects in recent years, 50 Cent is almost ready to turn his focus back to music.
“It’s hard to transition into a space where people will accept you creatively on a whole ’nother platform,” he says. “Now I’m comfortable (in film and TV), I’m ready to get back and give ’em something that’ll get them excited.”
The rapper dropped a new track, Still Think I’m Nothing, in November, and will play shows in Australia next month, 15 years since his star-making debut Get Rich or Die Tryin’.
“I’m gonna shake it up when I get out there,” he promises. Den of Thieves opens in major cinemas today
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson describes his character in new heist film Den of Thieves as being “the strong silent type”.