Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

party chat

Anthony Mackie on Working With Hugh Jackman, Robots in Real Steel

At last night's launch of Marc Ecko Cut & Sew's new ad campaign, featuring a hologram of Lindsay Lohan, longtime Ecko customer Anthony Mackie stayed far away from the computer stations demoing digital Lindsay, preferring to flirt with his many lady admirers in the VIP section. He's been on a roll since The Hurt Locker's Oscar run made him a household name, so Vulture took this opportunity grill him about reading suggestions for Lohan in rehab and his spate of new projects.

Have you tried playing with the Lindsay Lohan hologram yet?
I haven't. I feel like something about virtual Lindsay Lohan turns me on too much to play with it in front of people.

You can give her commands and make her do stuff. What would you have her do?
I would have her tell me what I look good in. Guys want to know what looks good to women, so you want a woman who you think is hot to tell you what you look good in. I would like to be able to go on the site and have her sit there and say, "You look good in that."

The webcam films her and then projects her into your world.
I don't want her in my world! I don't want her, like, in my house.

She's in rehab now. Got any reading suggestions for her?
I'm on a big David McCullough kick. I'm reading The Johnstown Flood and 1776. I'm a big history buff. So I'd just tell her to pick up some really good history books and check out mistakes other people have made. Every time I think I've done something stupid, I read about something like the Johnstown Flood and I'm like, "You know what? I'm not so bad."

You're doing the sci-fi movie Real Steel with Hugh Jackman. You're a promoter of robot boxers?
I'm the Don King of the future. It's an amazing movie. Shawn Levy is an amazing director. And Hugh is honestly one of the coolest cats in the business. All of my scenes are with him. He is basically a robot boxing [trainer] and I am the promoter. So he has to come to me to get his fights on.

Are there actual robots or is it CGI?
They're there! They built eight-foot-tall robots! Yes. You're standing there and a big-ass robot comes by. They got the guy who did all the robots for Jurassic Park and Jaws and all these crazy movies and got him to build mechanical eight-foot-tall robots.

What do you do with the robots?
I run away from them! No, basically I introduce the robots; I promote the robots; I speak with robots who want to fight other robots. I'm the Don King of it all.

Do you have Don King's hair?
No, I don't. There are two hairstyles you will never find another man wearing: Don King's and Al Sharpton's. They're done. They're done.

Evangeline Lilly retired from acting and then unretired eight days later to do this movie. Did you talk about it?
No, but that's everyone's goal, to pull an Anthony Hopkins: "You know what? I'm never gonna do this again."

After that, you're playing Buddy Bolden, the Cornet King of New Orleans and the guy people think started jazz, and then track star Jesse Owens. Are those skills you possess already?
You bet. I run three miles a day and I've been playing trumpet since middle school. I think that's why they cast me. I can't talk about Jesse Owens, but we finished filming Bolden two weeks ago.

You play your own trumpet music?
No, no, no. Wynton Marsalis played all the music. I just act the fuck out of it.

I always get annoyed when people pretend to play musical instruments in movies.
Well, as an actor, don't you think I get annoyed when musicians pretend to act? Right back 'atcha.

How do you feel about all the rappers getting into acting?
Ahhhh. [Rolls eyes, evading question.] I played the trumpet some. By the end of the movie, I got my chops back up to where I could sort of make it work. I learned all the music. Delfeayo Marsalis was my musical coach, so he made sure everything I did was on point, that I had the right fingering and stuff. So I think, and everyone else thinks it looks like I'm playing the music.

Why are you taking so many roles based on real people?
Because those are the best stories! If someone came to me and said, "We want you to play Spider-Man," I'd say, "Hell yeah!" But I'd have to get them to change the name to "Brotha-man." That's who I'd be.

Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images