RedEye

Interview: 'Real Steel' star Anthony Mackie sees tipping point for black cinema

Anthony Mackie — who appeared in last weekend’s No. 1 film at the box office, “Real Steel,” and the Oscar-winning “Million Dollar Baby” and “The Hurt Locker” — recently had an entire restaurant buzzing when he walked in for dinner. There were whispering customers, an autograph request and a free bottle of wine sent to his table, courtesy of the restaurant.

But the whispers eventually died down, and the bottle of wine was sent back.

“They sent over a bottle of wine and said ‘Where’s Will Smith? You are not Will Smith,’” Mackie recalled on the phone from Los Angeles, where he’s filming “Gangster Squad” with his “Half Nelson” co-star Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn and Emma Stone.

Mackie obviously doesn’t have the Fresh Prince’s star power (not many actors do), but the Juilliard-trained actor has quietly built an impressive resume ever since he appeared as Eminem’s rap-battle rival, Papa Doc, in “8 Mile.”

“Nine times out of 10, it’s all about who you surround yourself with,” Mackie said. “When we were shooting ‘Million Dollar Baby,’ I thought ‘This is going to be a good movie. It has Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman.’ With ‘Hurt Locker,’ nobody thought there was any chance in hell it would get Oscar buzz.”

On Saturday, Mackie will receive the Artistic Achievement Award at the Chicago International Film Festival’s Black Perspectives Tribute at Chase Auditorium. Past honorees include Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman, Sidney Poitier, Spike Lee and Robert Townsend.

Mackie has been outspoken in past interviews about the lack of quality African-American films in recent years, and singled out Lee and Townsend as inspiration for young black filmmakers.

Hollywood is in a period of regression right now, Mackie said: “We’re at a place where we need the next Robert Townsend. We need the next young filmmakers like Spike Lee or John Singleton to come along and show our world in a different light.

“It happened in music. It was all gang-banging and ‘hoes’ until Talib Kweli, Common and Kanye West came out and redefined the era of the conscious millennium rapper. I feel in film it has to be the same thing.”

Twitter @aboutluisgomez

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Dennis Farina helps kick off Chicago International Film Festival

    Dennis Farina helps kick off Chicago International Film Festival

    The Chicago International Film Festival didn’t have to look far when choosing a movie to kick off its 47th annual edition. “The Last Rites of Joe May” — starring Dennis Farina as an aging con man with little to his name besides debt — was filmed in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood in late 2009...

  • Chicago sues red light camera firm for $300 million

    Chicago sues red light camera firm for $300 million

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration has sued Chicago's former red light camera operator, Redflex Traffic Systems, for more than $300 million on grounds the entire program was built on a $2 million bribery scheme at City Hall that has already led to federal corruption convictions.

  • Marrow's 'The Gold Standard' raises the Chicago rock bar

    Marrow's 'The Gold Standard' raises the Chicago rock bar

    The four musicians in Marrow know quite a bit about bringing diverse influences to the table. After all, three of them, singer-guitarist Liam Kazar, singer-keyboardist Macie Stewart and bassist Lane Beckstrom were in Kids These Days, a now-defunct septet that combined jazz, funk, rap and rock in...

  • The Kids These Days family tree

    The Kids These Days family tree

    From its 2009 beginnings to its 2013 demise, Chicago's Kids These Days seemed like one of the most promising acts the city had seen in years. While the band split up at the height of its hype, its members have since gone on to do bigger and better things—seriously impressive considering the hip-hop/rock/jazz...

  • Solid 'Gold': How ex-Kids These Days members came back stronger as Marrow

    Solid 'Gold': How ex-Kids These Days members came back stronger as Marrow

    After the dissolution of Kids These Days, the much-buzzed about Chicago fusion-jazz-rock-rap septet that split in spring 2013 just a few months after releasing its only album, “Traphouse Rock,” some of its members spent what seems like all of 20 minutes bandless. "We were driving back from the...

  • Mr Twin Sister's 'In the House of Yes' is one of last year's hidden treasures

    Mr Twin Sister's 'In the House of Yes' is one of last year's hidden treasures

    Welcome to RedEye's "Song of the Day," an ongoing feature where music reporter Josh Terry or another RedEye staff member highlights something they're listening to. Some days the track will be new, and some days it will be old. No matter what, each offering is something you should check out. Check...

  • GrubHub's weekend customer-support issues made people hangry

    GrubHub's weekend customer-support issues made people hangry

    Technical difficulties at GrubHub and Seamless over the weekend drove hordes of hangry would-be customers to air their grievances on social media. The food ordering and delivery sites, which merged in 2013 and use GrubHub’s back-end technology, errantly accepted payments on Saturday evening without...

  • One dead in Heart of Chicago after being shot by police

    One dead in Heart of Chicago after being shot by police

    A 29-year-old man died after being shot by police on the Lower West Side early Saturday, police said.

Comments
Loading
80°