I fear this interview doesn’t get across the 50 Cent I met. That guy was very charismatic, and very funny, and very humble. But 50 wasn’t given much space to be himself, mostly because of the junket journalists, who acted about as unprofessionally as I have ever seen them be – and I thought I had seen them be as unprofessional as possible.
We had 50 second, and he ran ten minutes late because the journalists from the first table swarmed him, demanding multiple pictures and autographs. It was embarassing. Then when he got to my table, it was worse. He was fawned over by the female journalists, and the foreign journalists treated him like an exotic life form. One German journalist – I swear to God – said he was shocked by the way women in the film were referred to as "bitches." He didn’t say this to 50, just to the rest of the table between interviews, but he definitely treated 50 like a child. At any rate, many of 50’s answers seem short – that’s because no one let him speak. Everyone needed to get their statements in, and I say statements because that was what most of the "questions" were. I’m tempted to name the worst offender here, but I have to see this woman at many press junkets.
At the end of the already shortened interview, all the journalists from my table also pounced on 50. One actually asked him to write "something inspirational" on her press kit. How depraved is a profession when simply not acting like a Teen Beat reading 12 year old becomes the model of restraint?
Q: So how much of this is based on your life?
50 Cent: It’s loosely based. About 75% based.
Q: What was it like shooting your own life story?
50 Cent: It was a learning experience for me, period. I had never been involved with a film project before. It wasn’t until I got the first draft of the screenplay that I got excited about it. I didn’t have a clue that it would change two or three times afterwards.
Q: Were you satisfied about the results?
50 Cent: Absolutely. I feel really good about my performance. I tried to do everything possible to do the unexpected.
Q: What was the most difficult scene for you? Was it the scene reenacting your shooting?
50 Cent: No, it was probably the shower scene! The difficult part was me thinking, ‘Am I going too far?’
Q: Were you OK with being naked?
50 Cent: I didn’t have a problem with it. I went into the film saying I wasn’t going to limit myself. But I was bugging. Jim gave us these biker shorts, and I was uncomfortable with those on. They were biker shorts to match the skin complexion, but after they get wet they changed to a darker complexion of shorts. Jim was like, ‘Ahh, this is not gonna work!’
He called me back to the side and said, ’50 – do you think you could take the shorts off?’ You gotta be kidding me right now! You know what I mean? Then he said, ‘If you do it, everybody will do it.’
Q: So you did.
50 Cent: Nah, I said I’ll see what happens. I went to the side and he said, ’50, it’s not gonna work, take the shorts off!’ So I took the shorts off but I had the towel around me. Terence looked and was like, aight, and took his shorts off and everybody followed him.
Q: Do you think your life story is exceptional? Or do you think that your story is standard for most rappers?
50 Cent: Absolutely not. I think my situation is different. I hope everybody is not experiencing the same things. For me, music has been my total way out. And like in the movie my son is the turning point. I wasn’t actually incarcerated when he came, so that’s where the fictional point comes into play. But he became a priority in my life, and because I had to have responsibility for someone besides myself I had to change. That’s when I started writing music full time.
Q: How similar are your grandparents to what we see in the film?
50 Cent: My grandparents are like in the film. They tried to provide for me. Because my mom wasn’t around a lot she substituted finances for time. She always gave me nice things. When she passed my grandparents tried to cater to me a little bit but they had 8 kids besides her. I didn’t want to ask them for things so I asked people who had nice things, all people from my mother’s life. They had jewelry and nice cars. They actually, in their eyes, did me a favor by allowing me to hustle at an early age.
Q: How old?
50 Cent: 12. They trusted me because I was Sabrina’s boy. I was my mother’s child. What the film doesn’t show is that I was only able to hustle from 3 to 6, because my grandparents thought I was in an afterschool program. I wasn’t able to get out of the house until fighting my uncle and getting sent to live in the basement. When I was living in the basement they couldn’t tell when I left because I wasn’t up under all of them.
Q: What would you say to those that claim the movie glamorizes the lifestyle?
50 Cent: For the person who assumes this is glamorizing the life, it’s obvious this person hasn’t experienced anything they’re looking at. It at least will give them an opportunity to open their eyes to things that are going on in different places. Eminem’s 8 Mile opened my eyes to life in a trailer park. That’s Middle America’s ghetto. They’ve made comparisons to my film and 8 Mile because me and Em had success in music before making the film, but the only similarity that they overlook is that we both didn’t have great relationships with our fathers. They point to the music and the fact that we didn’t have much.
Q: Have you ever met your father?
50 Cent: No, I never met my father. The scene in the mirror [at the end] is more where I’m at. I found my father in myself. My grandfather was my father figure growing up. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything by knowing who he was. The things he could have helped me out on have passed.
Q: Some people have said that they are afraid the film will draw gangsters to the theaters and that there will be violence.
50 Cent: I don’t think they’ll see that. I think they’ll see kids from Middle America. That’s who purchases my material. They stand a chance running into college kids more than gangsters.
Q: Do you still get threats?
50 Cent: No. I do wear a vest, though. I understand the possibilities. I been shot before.
Q: The character of Majestic in the movie – is the real life version of him still alive?
50 Cent: He’s still alive.
Q: You’re not afraid of him?
50 Cent: No. He’s incarcerated.
Q: In person you seem sweet and almost shy. But that’s not what I get out of listening to your music. Am I meeting Curtis now, and is there a different person who is 50?
50 Cent: I grew up being two people. I grew up being my grandmother’s baby and being aggressive enough to get by in the environment when I’m in the environment. The film showed me amongst my grandparents, being uncomfortable with things and not saying anything about it. And then it showed me fighting in the street. There’s a place for those things, and I don’t respond to people that will make them uncomfortable. You know that guy who walks around with his face screwed up? He gets hurt in my neighborhood. Eventually he intimidates someone to the point that they actually hurt him – if he doesn’t hurt someone first and go away for a while. For me it’s been more effective to just smile. And then do whatever has to be done to get by for the moment.
Q: Can you talk about working with Jim? Were you ever concerned he wouldn’t understand where you were coming from?
50 Cent: No, because before we actually got started, we were in Los Angeles before we were in Toronto, and I spent time with Jim and talked to him. I understood he knew a lot more than people knew. Jimmy was asking me to sit with him to have conversations to make sure he was on point. He had watched all the films I had watched. Anything that would be considered a reference to what life is like in New York City or the ghetto. He said there was a big difference – none of them have a theme that is universal, like your real family life. We went towards the actual situations that caused the behaviours as opposed to the behaviours.
Q: Do you have regrets in your life?
50 Cent: If I regretted the mistakes in my life – I made mistakes, everybody at this table made mistakes – but I feel like the things you go through make you who you are. So I take those experience and say I needed the experience of making that mistake to become who I am now.
Q: Do you wish your mom could see you now?
50 Cent: I would trade every day I have for one with my mother.
Q: The shooting scene – was that how it happened in real life?
50 Cent: It was different. It was more like the scene where Junebug shoots the police officer. I got shot in the back passenger driver’s seat. I was on the driver’s side but in the back passenger seat.
Q: How long were you in the hospital?
50 Cent: I was in the hospital 13 days and then I was able to be moved out of there, I went to stay in the Poconos. It was about nine months before I was back.
Q: Is it true that you kept a bullet?
50 Cent: What happened actually is that there was a portion of bullet that was in my gums, came out the back of my gums. They didn’t bother with the portions of it that went into my tongue because they felt it would do more nerve damage than it was worth. One of them started coming out of the glands in the sides, I thought it was a tooth at one point.
Q: Does getting shot 9 times and surviving make you feel immortal?
50 Cent: I’m not immortal! You feel blessed. If you start feeling like it can’t happen – wow.
Q: How are you as a dad?
50 Cent: I feel that I’m the best!
Q: Is your son spoiled?
50 Cent: Yeah, he’s spoiled. There ain’t enough black spoiled kids.
Q: Do you feel vulnerable putting yourself out there in this film?
50 Cent: I’m just happy to have my story out there. There are people who don’t choose hip hop as an art form who can sit through a movie – they have heard through so many media outlets pieces of stuff about me, they can finally see it.
Q: Is this the beginning of an acting career, or is this a one time thing? If it is the beginning, what kind of roles do you want to play?
50 Cent: I will commit to another film if I came across the right screenplay. But because I don’t know what is the right screenplay, I can’t answer the second half of your question. I want to read it and just be so excited by the screenplay I want to be a part of it.
Q: It’s said in the film that when you work out the hours and the pay, hustling pays less than minimum wage. Is that true?
50 Cent: It is. You look at a guy who works 9 to 5 – the guy who’s hustling may make it faster, but he goes away and by the time he comes back… over time the guy doing the 9 to 5 ends up in a better position financially than the guy doing the wrong thing. Even if he acquires money he ends up spending it on lawyer fees.
Q: What do you think of the poster controversy?
50 Cent: That’s only for me. For music, as a form of entertainment, they place different standards on music. There hasn’t been a gun on the cover of a CD since 1997, Criminal Minded. So when they see that gun and it’s me, they got a problem with it. But wasn’t Mr. and Mrs. Smith just out and they both had guns?