Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson Discusses Fear, 'Den Of Thieves,' And More [Interview]

If there's one interview subject I want to have all the time in the world with, it's Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson. For starters, the rapper, actor, producer, and entrepreneur has a great story, which we saw told on screen in Get Rich or Die Tryin'. After his debut album of the same name came out, his story only grew richer. He's had such a full career already and there's no shortage of things to ask. But when we interviewed Jackson, it was to discuss his new film, Den of Thieves, in which he plays a bank robber.

We didn't discuss the movie much, though. When we spoke with Jackson on the set of Den of Thieves, he candidly covered a huge array of subjects. When we spoke with him again, he did the same, starting with the book he co-wrote with Robert Greene, The 50th Law. I can't recommend it enough.

Below, read our 50 Cent interview.

I have to say, I read The 50th Law recently and it's been on mind quite a bit. It definitely makes you a little more hungry and want to work harder.

You know what? I think a lot of times people be afraid. They create their own fears. It's maybe a fear of failure. Fear of failure is fear of success. Is being afraid of achieving what you want to achieve, because the small things in there, finding like people, you've got to have people that you have to communicate with to get to where you want to go. You can't be afraid to just tell them what you actually want or what you trying to achieve at that point. A lot of times I'm in circumstances, situations where people may have more information than me about what we're actually talking about at the moments, so I'm all ears, I'm listening, because their information allows me to use my gut instincts. We've got to not be afraid to go the next level. You know what I'm saying? A lot of people are afraid of change, like in a relationship it might not be completely fulfilling for you, but they stay in the relationship because it's already there.

If it's not fulfilling for you, then try something else. At least get out of that so something else can come into your life. Fear is an option. Danger is real. You have the option to be afraid or not of what's there. You know what I mean? No matter what circumstances you put yourself under, that statement is true.

The book dealt so much with navigating the music industry. How does the film industry compare?

The film industry is even older. It's even more of a cookie cutter mentality to how they actually do things. They'll look and they'll say, "We can take the same films and change ethnicity and they'll do less," because the machine would say, "This goes to this menu." Look, Eminem's 8 Mile, that's a black story with a white lead, because he grew up in hip-hop culture. He just fell in love with the art form. He's actually better at it than a lot of African American artists. I don't care, it is what it is. You know what I'm saying? His track record and material, it speaks for itself. There's nothing to argue about. That is testament proven.

When you think the performance of the 8 Mile film, I had the same producers, I had the same production team involved with the film, because Get Rich or Die Tryin' was the largest debuting hip-hop album and wanted to go back and make that as a film. We did it and they gave me $36,000,000, Quincy Jones to do the score, Terry Winters to write, Jim Sheridan as a director. I got all of those bells and whistles for that film, really talented group of people involved. When it came time to release it, it went from a 3,200 theater plan, which was how 8 Mile was, to a 1,700 theater plan. It went from premium everywhere to premium urban, because the tones and things that showed up on the film, they considered it like a black gangster film, and it didn't have the proper marketing label. Later, to give you an example, when you see American Gangster, it's about Frank Lucas's life story, but it gives you Russel Crowe. Equally the same size. Then it goes everywhere that it needs to go and it performs there.

Think of hip-hop as an art form. The true consumers of it are people that are so far away from the circumstances that it's just pure entertainment. They don't understand what the motivation or where the concept or the writing is coming from because actually a lot of it is coming out of inner cities, the ghetto part, or just inner cities and lifestyles that are distorted lifestyles.

Now they'll party like a rockstar and they're taking drugs that don't have negative auras around it. The crack has a negative aura. You see a crack head, someone that doesn't look nice, is not functioning. Percocet doesn't have that field. You see what I'm saying? The Vicodin and whatever else is in the actual medicine cabinet doesn't have that nasty aura around it, but it's even more dangerous because they might have a little fruit punch going on. Mixing that s*** gets distorted in your system when you take something else. You've just got to be cautious of it because that's the trend, the new thing that's happening.

I want to get to Den of Thieves, but you mentioned Get Rich or Die Tryin', and I just watched that the other night. While most biopics are pretty dry and stuffy, I do think that one does have an energy and life to it.

Well, Jim, look at the guys, they made a good movie. A person's life story, we could do a day. We could squeeze a full day into two hours and at the end of ten minutes, you have extreme events happening in one day. I've had some extreme s*** happen in my life [Laughs], so it's really the choice of what portions of it that you turn into film. That's where it becomes interesting, because I look in pieces out of sequence, and it's happening at different points, but the film is about 75% or 80% true. That's why I'm always proud of the film.

As you said, you've experienced some extreme s***, and this movie is about some extreme world and extreme characters. When you read the script, did the world or characters feel familiar?

Do you know what's interesting? I know people who didn't see their investments, their true investments, so emotionally, they were so invested in their relationships and their personal lives, they were doing something they weren't supposed to be doing when they didn't identify with not being able to pay the consequences. You see what I'm saying? I saw a guy who got an altercation and killed the guy, but his girlfriend, he loved the girl that he was actually with at the present moment and only thought of turning himself in because the thought of not being able to see her again fucked with him so extreme. There's a mentality that goes on, and so you get the same thing for ten you get for two. Why would you turn yourself in? Just keep getting busy. Just keep doing what you're doing. He couldn't get with that because of how he felt about the girl.

The Levy character develops his family relationship as if it's a great cover like he's invisible. I'm invisible in plain sight. You know what I'm saying? Nah, I was going to do what I do, family and everything else, but hen I do that, I'll do that. He feels like they're good enough, disciplined enough to make the jobs happen, and they have. Five or six times they robbed the things. Merriman going to jail, that was on his own merit. You know what I'm saying? He was just doing something he wasn't supposed to do. When you get to the point when you're the lead, sometimes you make decisions that are not necessarily the right decisions. A lot of people fall into leadership situations, not because they have leadership skills and abilities, but because they're not afraid of the altercation.

If you go to war, the guy that everyone says a crazy guy might be the person that you most comfortable following, because he doesn't care about the actual war, itself. You know what I'm saying? Then it gives you that to be secure going with him because he don't give a fuck. That under those circumstances, these are the things that we experience and came back into socially couldn't interact with everybody when we got back from the military because he didn't care and would do whatever in war. I comfortably followed behind Merriman. We developed this bond and relationship, where I have skill sets that he doesn't have like I dealt with explosives. I did things that he didn't know how to do. He's saying he's my brother, you know what I mean, because having the bonding experiences, reasons why you can communicate with people that other people can't have an understanding of, it develops a unique way of you creating special friendships.


Den of Thieves is now in theaters.