50 Cent plays a Harlem drug dealer catering to wealthy Upper East Side teens in Twelve, Joel Schumacher’s movie based on Nick McDonnell’s best-selling novel. At Wednesday’s Cinema Society screening, the rapper turned actor spoke to Vulture about his comfort level while shooting nude scenes (surprisingly anxiety-free), his jealousy when he realized the screaming fan girls swarming the set were actually lusting after co-star Chace Crawford, and how he perceives working on movies versus music.
What drew you to this role? Joel Schumacher said you showed up at the first meeting at 8 a.m., on time, to his amazement. Why did you go after this role?
Well, actually, Joel attracted me to the project. I’m a big fan of his work, so I got a chance to see Phone Booth, Batman, Phantom of the Opera, St. Elmo’s Fire, all these different projects, and then I wanted to be a part of it. When I got a chance to read the script, I was [thinking], this is just perfect, you know, I could get in there and I could actually do it. And then I came to see him. I wasn’t actually [ready] — I was supposed to [have read it] — but I convinced him, I hustled him. I was talking to him, because I wanted to do it so bad.
You mean you were supposed to come prepared to read for him?
Right. Like, to the camera. And I didn’t have the time to memorize the actual dialogue, so I came in and explained what I felt, like, was the character’s motivation.
How did you prepare for the role? Did you have to do research with drug dealers?
Well, I understand Harlem. I’m from Queens, New York, so it’s not a huge difference, and I’ve been back and forth to Harlem. And there were certain things that I knew that the character would actually have been exposed to prior to the events in the screenplay that would allow him to be comfortable with just one person. That means he would have to be someone’s muscle in Harlem for a long period of time, so he’s just such a do-it-yourself guy that he don’t feel like he needs any support at all.
What about the nude scene? How awkward was that?
It really wasn’t awkward. I’m really one of those people that are extremely comfortable with my sexuality. Especially when there’s, like, attractive women involved; I have no problems with that.
So even in a room full of cameramen and all you had no problem taking your clothes off?
You know, I don’t think the cameraman is uncomfortable. I think the world watching afterwards is a little more uncomfortable, when you’re sure that they’re going to see it, you know. And this film will be around longer than my ass will be. Like, I’ll die, and this film will still be playing, you know. So I just want to make sure my ass is in good condition when people take a look at it.
What about working with Chace Crawford?
I didn’t really realize how much fanfare was involved with Chace Crawford.
You mean the girls?
Exactly. You know, ‘cause when they were screaming I was sure it was for me. [Laughs.] And then shortly after, I realized it was for Chace. But I accepted it — you see me still smiling.
Do you watch Gossip Girl?
I don’t get a chance to watch any television consistently because I’m traveling so often. I just got back from Brazil. But, you know, I’m a fan of his work.
Did they offer you a cameo on Gossip Girl?
Well, you know what, if you were an executive there you would probably offer me one because you’re a little smarter than the guys they got working there. [Laughs.] But you know what, we’re going to give them a break and give them a chance to come offer it to me now.
You have four movies already done and two in preproduction. Are you sort of giving up music and going for acting full time?
Well, I’m not giving up music, I’ve just developed a passion for film projects. Music, for me, is still my first love, you know, so because I’m conditioned for it; I don’t have to work hard to be good at it. I’ve been working with music full time since ‘97. Film projects are exciting to me because it’s a collaboration, it’s more like a team sport. Like, in music it’s my idea, my vocals, what I wrote, and my production choices through the entire process. And here, it’s a joint effort. I’ve never seen a good movie that had one person in it.
What about other projects? Shoes? Any new books coming out? Soft drinks? You do all kinds of things.
I mean, if I tell you everything at once, it’s just going to seem like I’m just pouring all over … people are going to say, “You know what, 50 sucks. Every time I talk to him he sells you something.” [Laughter all around.] You know, I’ve got a lot of different things I’m working on, obviously. I’ll be multitasking, so in the future I’ll be announcing different projects I’m supporting.
But nothing you can say right now.