Were you nervous during the shoot?
50: Yeah, I was nervous. There were some things that I really had to think about. They got us to do things that we just wouldn't think about doing regularly...
Like getting naked in the shower with Terrence?
50: Jim [director Jim Sheridan] pulled me to the side and said, "50, you think you'd take it off?" And I was like, "Alright. I'll do it."
Were you ashamed or embarrassed?
50: Nah, I'm straight. I made sure everything was...... where it was supposed to be.
There's been some controversy about the billboards and their insinuation of violence. What do you think about hip-hop and its possible connection to violence?
50: You have people who are trying to capture what actually goes on in the environment, because the environment is violent. If we could just take the records of who goes in the hospital for one week in my neighborhood, you'll find far more victims of violent crimes, whether its stab wounds or gunshot wounds or whatever it is. It's what goes on in their environments and what they're writing about.
So for the young black boys who are watching this movie, and may have been where you were at one point, what do you hope that they get out of it?
50: I mean outside of the movie, the things they see me doing in business will allow two things to happen. Anyone from the environment that I'm from will either be inspired by the situation, or they will envy the situation. That's their options, ya know?
And the billboards?
50: And as far as the billboard is concerned, I feel like their standard is based on music as an art form and not based on any other form of entertainment. And I mean, there hasn't been an album released with a gun or any other weapon on the cover of it since 1997, KRS-One, "Criminal Minded," and for having a piece of glass that was broken and a holster on their minds, they said I was supporting gun culture in "Get Rich or Die Tryin,'" because the different media outlets promoted the fact that I've actually experienced being shot nine times.
There's sort of a weird double standard between music and movies, right?
Because it's not acceptable on the music level, the major companies won't market and promote your [album] if that's what you tried to make the artwork for your album. But I don't feel like they have a problem with it in film. If we go into our local Blockbuster, we're gonna see guns continuously throughout the whole place. We' might even see more guns on covers than people's faces!
How did you have the guts to really tell your story? You talk about your mom. The shooting. Where did you have to go inside?
50: Same concepts of what Em did in 8 mile, not the actual film, but you see where he's standing on the stage they're battling and he says everything. He puts all those defects of character out there, everything that he could use against him out there for everybody to know, then he's no longer vulnerable. So hip-hop, because it's competitive, and it's an on-going competition, everybody's competing, they can make reference to things they've seen in the film, that I've told everyone, and who's gonna care that they made reference to that?
Did it make the acting easier?
50: It was therapeutic for me to be in some of those spaces over and over again. Some people think because you're making a film that's based on your life story that you're not actually acting, ya know, but I still gotta deliver the dialogue like everybody else.
What was one of the worst moments for you to go through again?
50: One of them was the actual operating scene. I spent 8 hours that day and something like a minute of it was in the film. I had prosthetics and make-up on me, so I couldn't move, and I'm looking up at the lights that you could see in the operating room, I got actors over me delivering dialogue, doing a great job at acting like surgeons, and when they say cut, everyone's laughing and doing what they doing, but like I can't move off the table! And it's like, I been in that position before, just I wasn't conscious, I was under anesthesia at that point. So now I have a reference in my head to what would have happened after I was shot and unconscious.
Can you even believe you got through all this stuff? That you're sitting here today after all that?
I spent a large portion of my life being the only one who believed in my ideas and things that I wanted to do. Like even my grandparents, I love them to death, but after I got shot, I mean, even they looked at me like, "Aw man, he's still over there?" I write music without actually writing it on paper, so I'll be mumbling the lyrics to the music that's playin, and they just look at me like I'm buggin out.
Marcus lived and ran business by the "rules" of the game. Are there rules in your life?
50: For me, I just don't believe that the things that I come up with are impossible. You know, my grandparents, their home is the largest asset in my family to date, and it was worth like $65,000. I'd buy magazines and look at Lamborghinis and Ferraris, and I'd never even imagine having them. I'd just look.
Is it as good as you thought it’d be?
50: I mean, now I have 'em, I have more than I actually need. You can only drive one car at a time! Why you gotta have all these cars?
What’s been your biggest splurge since hitting it big?
50: Homes. In Baltimore and Long Island.
You've been involved in so much "beef." Do you live with any fear?
50: Not much. I already made the decision on how I’m gonna live my life, regardless of what the situation is, I’m gonna keep on pushing.
How much time do you get to spend with your son?
50: Well, my son this year is being home schooled, so him and his teacher come with me. Then next year he goes back to being in private school.
How old is he?
50: He’s nine.
Has he seen the movie?
50: No, not yet.
Is he allowed to see it?
50: Yes. I’m gonna have him see it with me, so I can explain it.
It’s R Rated...
50: Look, the computer doesn’t say, “it’s R Rated” when you get on the site. I see him doing all kinds of thing. I’m like, “What’re you doing on cuties.com?” Cause now he wants to see cuties!
What rules do you set for him? Are you strict?
50: Nah, he’s spoiled. I don’t think there’s enough spoiled black kids, you know what I mean?
Do you have a girlfriend?
50: Nah, I don’t have a girlfriend right now.
Well, what’re you looking for?
50: Just someone with their own direction, ya know? I think the most attractive thing about a woman is her confidence.
What’s your worst nightmare?
50: To be right back where I started. In the history of entertainment, we build entertainers in order to destroy them for the sake of entertainment.
Is the business of Hollywood really so different from the business in Queens?
50: No. My work ethic hasn’t changed, as you’ve seen in the film. The bottom line is that you’re selling something different, but if you can maintain the quality of it, the market will accept it and it will be sold.
What do you think about Samuel L. Jackson’s statement that he didn’t want to be involved in this project?
50: I think Samuel’s statement that he didn’t want to work with a rapper was a statement that he didn’t want to work UNDER a rapper on his first film… Sometimes people become so “artistic” they forget they’re in the entertainment business. It doesn’t piss me off, you just have to be aware that some people feel that way.
Would you think about doing another film in a totally different direction? A non-street, non-50 Cent, film? Could you be a hardcore actor?
50: I’d do another project if I thought the screenplay was exciting enough for me to commit to. It’s a big transition for me. I travel constantly, in what’s been my regular life in music, and when I got to Toronto, the film set was definitely a change of pace. It was for three and a half months, so I don’t count on it… I mean I could pick some better places for us to hang out for three and a half months!
Was it hard to watch the movie for the first time? Your whole life story unfold like that?
50: Well, the first time I watched the movie it was three hours long!
What’s up with the soundtrack? Is this different than the 50 Cent we’ve heard in the past?
50: I based the original “Get Rich or Die Tryin” my life and my moods at that point, and now this film, cause it’s close to my life… it’s not far from the original “Get Rich or Die Tryin,” but I used the actual scenes to create the things in the record. There’s a scene where young Marcus is looking through a storefront window at sneakers, and at that point he was “window shoppin” and that’s what created the concept for the single off the soundtrack. I wrote it from 50 Cent’s perspective as opposed to the characters.
How many pairs of sneakers do you have now?
50: Tons of 'em.
Are we talking hundreds?
50: I have thousands cause Reebok sends 'em to me for free.