Anyone who associates rapper and actor Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson with the phrase “get rich or die trying” already knows the conceit of the artist’s new film, “Den Of Thieves.”
Jackson plays Enson Levoux, a special ops veteran turned bank robber who — along with fellow thieves Ray Merriman (Pablo Schreiber), Donnie Wilson (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and Bosco Ostroman (Evan Jones) — plans to break into one of the most secure buildings on the planet: Los Angeles’ Federal Reserve Bank. Standing in their way is Gerard Butler as deadbeat detective Nick O’Brien, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and about a hundred layers of security. The movie hits theaters on Friday.
amNewYork sat down with Jackson to discuss “Den Of Thieves” and the biggest difference between New York and L.A.
You play a former college football player and military man who now robs banks and has five kids. How’d you get into this character?[Writer/director] Christian [Gudegast] wrote so many details for us to use for our performance that you don’t even see on-screen . . .
You’ve said that you first read this script six years ago. What made you latch on to this story for so long?
I can see things that aren’t written into the actual script. You could tell me a description of this room and I may see the chairs but they’re a different color in my mind. So all those colors and details will pop into my mind when you describe something. With this, I just felt there was something to the intensity of trying to rob a place that has all those safekeeps. These characters are like adrenaline junkies on some level, but the discipline they received in the military is giving them the ability to act quickly, to do it like a well-oiled machine. You got to imagine coming back into society with everyone operating like there never was a war. You come back with this ability to do something you didn’t know you could do. You’re definitely a different person from the experience. People here say, “Don’t kill anyone.” But over there it was, “Kill for your country.”
Your character is a man of few words. Why do you think that is?
There was more vocal points in the writing. Pablo ended up saying most of the lines that I was supposed to say. I didn’t mind because I think, in general, when people are around each other so much you don’t have to say much. You already know. That’s the relationship they develop. In real life, we don’t necessarily have that dialogue. It’s just the way things are, this is what we do. It even speaks for when my character thinks O’Shea Jackson Jr.’s character [is an informant], immediately he’s like, “Shoot him.”
That was definitely unexpected.
Yeah, you finally get that he’s as aggressive and as dangerous as everyone else in the group. He’s just not talking as much.
You’re from New York, and this movie is such an LA-centric movie. What’s the biggest difference between the two cities?
In New York, people know how to say no. They know how to not like you without it being offensive. In Hollywood, they have a hard time telling you “no” because they don’t know who is going to be next.