Rapper/actor Curtis Jackson (or as he's known in the music industry - 50 Cent) tackles his second starring role in a feature film with Home of the Brave, directed by Irwin Winkler and co-starring Samuel L Jackson and Jessica Biel. Curtis Jackson plays an American soldier serving in Iraq who makes a split-second, life-altering decision that will forever haunt him.
Commenting on the casting choice, producer Rob Cowan said, "In the beginning, we had some trepidation when we were first approached about Curtis Jackson, because we really didnt know anything about him. But we were so impressed with him that we kept expanding his role into something bigger and bigger."
The Appeal of Home of the Brave: I actually enjoy war films," said Jackson. "It was a different thing like to me, prior to doing the research, just watching the film from an entertainment perspective, to actually doing the research and seeing the real motivation behind some of those films. It changed my perspective on it totally. I think death is a large form of entertainment for humans; it's all of our fate. So in a lot of ways, people are intrigued or interested in it, without making note of it. Like, we have an accident off the road, we'll still have a traffic jam because they're going to slow down to look.
The Experience of War and Performing for the Troops: I think, just in general, the experience itself alters the person. Period. I actually had the opportunity to perform for soldiers in Iraq, so I experienced being out there. I was actually on tour in South Africa, and had two days that was just the down time, so we went to perform for soldiers in Iraq. As soon as we got there, the guys said, Hey, not gonna bullshit you, you could die today.
We ended up spending an hour and a half on the road, on the airwaves, to take flight in an actual military aircraft, to take us to the base, and then I performed for them. I ended up having to stay there for five hours after we performed because they had some activity there, and then they got us out of there. But my whole perspective on things was altered by that, just getting a chance to go out there. I'm sure everyone that I met, they werent who their loved ones missed here because I believe your spirit changes with that much death around you. You've come in a platoon of 50 people, and then the platoon has 47 people. Then your platoon has 30 people, and then they bring new people in to fill those beds. So you've got people there writing their death letters, that feel like tomorrow could be my day. So that's a whole other process.
Analyzing His Character and the Story of Home of the Brave: I feel like, with this actual project, [my characters] not able to adjust to after the experience of killing, explained Jackson. There's a scene where it's a flashback. There's still a woman that's killed regardless of an immediate threat, and it's justifiable by the standards of the U.S. or any other country, for that matter. It still was killing a person and it alters him for the duration of his life, in the actual film. In some cases, we don't see it that way. It could be long term before we get these responses out of these people. From the experience, when they do come back, if we're all lucky enough, there's no such thing as a good war. There's no such thing as war without casualties. So, if they are lucky enough to overcome, the people who do make it back, there's no time line to when their reaction will come forth from their experience.
Working with Samuel L Jackson: The veteran actor has made it clear he doesnt want to be used in a film to prop up a rapper-turned-actor. But 50 Cent wasnt apprehensive about working with Jackson. I didn't have any apprehensions on that level. I actually understand it now, what he was saying. You know, you've got people that have gone to school for acting, and have acting as a goal all their lives. They see someone receive an opportunity to do what they really love, working with people that they haven't had the opportunity to work with. Even though having the type of accomplishments that Samuel Jackson has, it would make him uncomfortable because he'd actually like to work with Jim Carrey, and hasn't had the opportunity to do that. So to look at it and go, A rapper?
I don't think it was [that] he wouldn't work with a rapper. I think it was he didn't want to work on a project under a rapper at that point. It's impossible for him to be in a film based on my life story starring Samuel Jackson. Bottom line, you know what I mean? Because when you say a rapper You can actually work with Will Smith, he's a rapper. You can actually work with Queen Latifah, she's a rapper. You actually work with Ice Cube, he's a rapper. There's a lot of people who have successfully made the transition from music to film, and Sam, on the actual set, I didn't take that as any disrespect in any way.
I watched him because there's nothing I can do but learn from Samuel Jackson at this phase. This is where I'm at. So when I wasn't acting with him, we had really good conversations. We actually talked about his film Snakes on a Plane. I told him I'm absolutely not going to see that one. Snakes and planes at the same time? It's a super duper phobia, for that one. He laughed at me. He said, All right, I'll see you at the box office. You're gonna go see it with everybody else.
Transitioning Between 50 Cent the Rapper and Curtis Jackson the Actor: Wow, I think when they see me initially, the idea of me is 50 Cent, you know? And the interest that's raised through music will draw my base to the box office. That's what makes some film companies feel like it's a good idea to put 50 in. And until you actually deliver a good performance, they start to see other reasons to actually involve you in those projects.