Acting calls for you to be outside yourself, to be what you would never want to be and never choose to be, and what you despise to be.”
No one can play tough like former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, who wrapped up filming Ip Man 3 in China earlier this week to build on his successful cameos in The Hangover trilogy.
In the $36-million final chapter of the trilogy about Bruce Lee’s Wing Chun mentor, the 48-year-old gets to flex his acting muscle in ‘Chinawood’ by playing a shady property developer called Frank.
“I love being the bad guy,” said Tyson, drawing out the second word with relish before breaking into a villainous laugh. “I’m a good villain — a rogue with a kind heart.”
Neither Jason Statham in Furious 7 nor Ving Rhames in Pulp Fiction were this convincing. Even when Tyson hams it up against the Wolf Pack in self-parody, the air of brooding menace is inescapable.
“I’m an entertainer. Well, the industry says I’m an actor. I’ll be whatever they want me to be,” Tyson, who was spending 10 days filming in Shanghai, told China Daily on May 15. It was his fourth trip to China.
“When I did The Hangover, it was such a success … (I decided) this is what I’m going to do now,” he said. “This is my bread and butter.”
“Acting calls for you to be outside yourself, to be what you would never want to be and never choose to be, and what you despise to be,” he added, dipping into the kind of cryptic, dark waters in which he is known to swim.
The Hangover ( 2009) eclipsed Beverly Hills Cop to become the second-most successful R-rated comedy ever in the United States.
“I’ve got a good memory, so I remember my lines. Not that I study. I just remember,” said the man known for obliterating his opponents in the ring in the 1980s.
Tyson famously KO’d Michael Spinks in 91 seconds while at the height of his powers.
In 1986 he became the youngest-ever undisputed heavyweight champion of the world at the age of 20 years, four months and 22 days.
He earned a reported $300 million to 400 million during his career, declared bankruptcy in 2003, and is now said to be worth around $1 million.
In true iconoclastic style, he gave the interview while playing Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare at his hotel suite in Shanghai’s Songjiang district. He appeared in good humor and, alternately, affable, cryptic, chummy, preoccupied and gentleman-like.
It was 7am but he and his third wife and agent Lakiha Spicer had already finished their morning workouts.
“We got up late today. I got up at 4:30am,” said Tyson, whose demeanor can shift disconcertingly in a split-second from grizzly bear to teddy bear, and vice-versa.
In person, he appears vulnerable and dangerous, befuddled and razor-sharp, all at the same time. From the way he shuffles heavily around the hotel room, it is easy to forget
Chinese kungfu star Donnie Yen (left), Ip Man 3's main investor Shi Jianxiang (middle) and Mike Tyson meet the press on May 16 at a film studio in Shanghai, where part of the upcoming film about Bruce Lee's teacher is being shot.