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Questions and Answers With Anthony Mackie

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Anthony Mackie, who plays a supporting role in this weekend's "Runner Runner," isn't about to tell you whether he appears in "The Avengers: Age of Ultron," but he will recommend lunch digs in Harlem. He's just that kind of guy.

Mackie plays Agent Shavers, a government operative in Costa Rica determined to take down the crooked online gambling site Ivan Block (Ben Affleck) runs out of the country. Unfortunately for Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake), the young climber who latches on as Block's protege, this means his ride may have a violent end.

Mackie took a break from filming "Shelter" in New York City to talk with NextMovie about his deep desire to punch Justin Timberlake, why Jay Z is second-best to him and his deep (overwhelmingly positive) feelings about Red Lobster's cheddar bay biscuits.

Hey there, how are you?
I'm a little disturbed, I just found out there's a Red Lobster on 125th St.

Is that upsetting to you, or are you excited?
Um… I'm pretty upset.

Wait, why?
It's 125th St. Not Red Lobster Lane. It's crazy. That makes no sense in any part of the word.

Too far to get your cheesy bay biscuits?
Oh my god, those biscuits.

So you're shooting in New York right now, right?
Oh, it's this little movie with Jennifer Connelly called "Shelter." Her husband, Paul Bettany, is directing.

For a second, I thought you were going to say, "Oh, this little movie called 'The Avengers.'"
[Laughs] This little independent project, it's called "The Avengers."

I don't know if you've heard of it.
The first one flopped.

But, you know, they're always doing sequels no one asks for, so why not?
Exactly, exactly. You never know.

So is that a thing? Are you in "Avengers: Age of Ultron"?
I wish. You know, Marvel is so quiet with that stuff. I won't know I'm doing it until I'm doing it. Literally, they're so quiet with that stuff you never really know. All I know for sure is Robert Downey Jr. is doing it, everybody else is just waiting for the call. It's like being drafted.

You'll think that you're at Red Lobster on 125th and they'll be like "Surprise, you're actually filming Avengers right now."
Exactly. "Here's a biscuit for you, now go film 'Avengers.'"

Is that how they pay?
Pretty much, pretty much. Biscuits for everybody. Who don’t want biscuits?

Tell me about "Runner Runner." What intrigued you about the part to get involved?
Uh, well, basically "Runner Runner" was kinda like a luxury project for me. I really wanted to work with Ben [Affleck], I really wanted to work with Justin [Timberlake], and [director] Brad [Furman] was a good friend of mine. So when he came to me with the project, I was like, "Man, that sounds like a dream project, to be associated with those people." You know, a goal of mine is for my name to be synonymous with acting that people respect. And I feel like, if you look at Justin, if you look at Ben, those are two names that people respect and appreciate for the craft that they bring to acting.

Exactly. And now you can hang out with Batman and a member of 'N Sync.
You know what I mean? Like, really, I just did the movie because I wanted to smack Justin Timberlake around, that's all it was. His life's so perfect! He's a handsome guy, he has, like, a beautiful wife, he makes great music, he makes good movies. I'm like, I just wanna smack him around a little bit.

"I just want to put a bag over your head and beat the s**t out of you."
Everyone at some point in time makes you want to lock them in a closet. There's nothing wrong with that.

How did he take it? Was the fighting super-choreographed?
Uh, well, that's what's funny: None of the fights were in the script. So, it's just, you know, s**t we were making up. It was like, "Yeah, I'ma just smack him around a little bit right here." So it, um, they weren't choreographed at all. It was just us popping him in the head every now and then. But he took it like a champ, I mean, he's a great guy.

Did you warn him it was coming?
No, I did no such thing. I definitely surprised him. I gave him the business every opportunity I could.

Was he ever like, "Come on, man, please"?
Hold on one sec. Sorry, I gotta order some lunch. When you’re in Harlem, you gotta do it right.

You're at Red Lobster, aren't you?
[Laughs] If you ever come up to Harlem, which you probably haven't--

I have!
"I have. There was this little venture, one little weekend." But it's the best Caribbean food in the world. So I’ve been coming to this place forever. [to crew off phone] Uh, yams and mac and cheese.

You're gonna have a way better lunch than I am.
Oh, you have no idea how good this food is, you have no idea.

Which place is it?
It’s this place, a little place, called Sister’s on 124th and Madison. You have no idea, this is by far the best Caribbean food in the world. I was in the Caribbean and I was like, "Sister's is better than this."

You’re like, "I'm going back to New York, sorry guys."
Going back to New York where the real Caribbean people live. But, um, yeah, it's um. I'm sorry, go ahead, I cut you off, ordering my lunch.

No, it's fine. You were talking about beating Justin Timberlake up.
Yeah, "Runner, Runner," I mean, it's great. Justin, funny enough, is just, like, the consummate professional, you know. And working with him, everything we threw at him, everything we did, he was like, he never fought, he never complained, he never pulled that celebrity s**t. He was just always 100 percent involved and invested in the project.

Have you ever worked with any real divas? Do you have any castmate horror stories?
Oh, yeah yeah yeah. No question. I’ve worked with some awesomely diva people.

Who was it?
No, you're outta your mind. Nooooo. First rule of Fight Club.

Fine, fine. Are you a gambling man?
You know, I am a gambling man. I love a good Baccarat table or Craps table. But you know, I'm more of a Ben kinda guy. Like, I love how Ben's character will use anyone to get what he wants to get. I feel like that's kind of become the American way. You know, for good or for bad, that's kind of become the American way. You know, even if you look at the government shutdown, it's the exact same thing. You know, it's like, the rich manipulating the poor to get what they want.

Are you good at gambling, or do you lose?
I'm pretty good. I'm pretty good. I did well with the Saints and the Dolphins yesterday, I'm pretty good.

I'm always too nervous to gamble. Like, what if I lose?
You can't think about that! You can't. If you think about losing, you'll never win. There's a great saying: "Scared money don't make none."

Exactly, that's why I'm a writer. Are you a Vegas guy, an Atlantic City guy or an online guy?
I'm a Vegas guy. I really enjoy Vegas. But what's weird is, when I go to Vegas, I don't really, like, hang out and go to nightclubs. I go to shows. Like, I saw so many shows in Vegas, it's crazy. I go to restaurants, and I just gamble. That's really all I do.

But then when you leave the strip, it's really, really depressing.
It's really odd when you leave the strip.

Like, oh, no more neon. Just strange, pink apartment buildings.
[laughing] Yeah, like, who lives in this adobe house?

Back to movies. What movie of yours do you think deserves a second look from audiences?
Let's see. I have two of them. I did a movie called, "Brother to Brother," which was my very first movie, which I thought was great and I absolutely loved that movie. Then I did a movie called "We Are Marshall," that I really enjoyed, that I thought was a great movie.

Did anything unusual happen on this movie? Any stories you want to tell or rumors that you want to spread about your co-stars?
Ben Affleck told me that I'm the best actor he hasn’t worked with. Justin Timberlake asked me to do 16 bars on his new album and I said no.

What?!
Yeah, yeah, I told him no. I told him he had to give me 32 bars. But, then he said if I didn't do it, he would have to get Jay Z. So you see how that turned out.

Well, I mean, if you say no, then fine. Gotta go with second best, man.
Second place is not that bad.

Second place is just first loser.
You know? So it kinda worked out for him and Jay Z, I’m happy for him.

OK, and lastly, this is one we like to ask everyone: Using the formula of your first pet and the street you grew up on, what would your porn name be?
Funny enough, I know this. Patrick Washington.

What kind of animal was Patrick?
Patrick was like, half German Shepherd, half Sheepdog mutt. He was so big I used to ride him around the backyard like a horse. He looked like the dog in "The Neverending Story." Huge dog.

It's been so great talking to you. I'm super jealous of your lunch.
[laughs] It's good stuff.

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