Em's taunts were playful, but 'Get Rich or Tryin' ' director's reprimands weren't always.
MIAMI � If you ever go out to brunch with 50 Cent, you might want to consider eating breakfast first. But hey, when you're responsible for more than half of the black music coming out of Interscope Records; have a new book and upcoming movie to push; clothes and sneakers to peddle; and a performance at the VMAs in about nine hours, you're bound to be a little late. And that's not even mentioning that you're ex-boo Vivica A. Fox is in the vicinity.
So the fact that 50 kept a handful of journalists waiting at the Ritz-Carlton for about an hour past the agreed-upon 11 a.m. meeting time wasn't frowned upon. After all, about half the journalists hadn't met 50 before and weren't about to tick off one of his burly bodyguards.
"The misperception is that I'm gangsta 50," he said shortly after showing up, with two bodyguards escorting him. Fif didn't have any guns on him, only his dimply smile and pearly whites. He sat down in a small, secluded room near a pool where Fox, L.A. Reid, the Hogan family and Christina Milian were dining.
"That's the biggest misconception," he continued. "I can be to people. I have a reputation. My past is my shadow; it follows me everywhere I go. All those things ... they put my back against the wall."
If 50 has his back against the proverbial wall, it ain't showing. He's signed more deals than a Major League Baseball general manager, including, perhaps most importantly, a starring role in his first motion picture.
"We started developing ['Get Rich or Die Tryin' '] a long time ago," he said over a cup of tea. 50 started filming last year and wrapped on July 8. Two days later, 50 was on the Anger Management tour with hardly any time for rehearsals. (He actually did his prep for the tour every night in front of tens of thousands of people, switching up the show as he went along.)
"Actually after the first week of sales , Jimmy started talking about the film," he said. "He said, 'Oh, he's gonna be big enough.' "
Iovine quickly paired 50 up with writer Terence Winter, who scripts "The Sopranos." Winter hit the road later that year with 50, the G-Unit and esteemed writer Kris Ex, who eventually wrote 50's autobiography, "From Pieces to Weight".
" came out on the road with me on during the Rock the Mic Tour," Fif said. "We went out on the road and he stayed with me for two and half months. We was compiling information at the same time. If I tell you to tell me your life story right now, you'll miss so many things in one conversation that you'll have to come back. We got all the information together between all the things I said on tape to Terry and the things I said to Kris Ex ... the book was more close to detail 'cause the film is still just loosely based on my life. I still had to prepare for a role in the film. It's like there's portions of it that are a little fictional to make it fit cinematically."
Fif says it would be too difficult to fit the 29 years he's been on earth into 90 minutes and make it interesting to the public. But you'd think all that 50 would have to do is illustrate his relationship with Eminem for a blockbuster production: The two of them together are straight comedy.
"Em was no help to me on the film," he laughed, causing everyone to snicker along with him. "He started teasing me, saying, 'Yo, I don't know why you let them talk you into that. It's gonna be terrible. They gonna have you up there for 20 hours doing this and that. How'd you let them that?'
"I told him, 'They said you told me you wanted me to do it,' " he continued. " 'Cause came to me like, 'Em thinks it's gonna be incredible ... when they go see the film, they'll see how different your lifestyle actually was ahead of the music.' Then gives me a whole different story. 'You know I ain't say nothing like that. You let them sucker you. You're a sucker.' "
Eminem called 50 during the first week of filming for "Get Rich" and told his friend he was just playing with him; in fact, he did want Fif to do the movie.
As previously reported, "Get Rich or Die Tryin' " mirrors 50's life as "8 Mile" did Em's. A young boy from one of the five New York boroughs (he's from the Bronx, not Queens) moves in with his grandparents and eight aunts and uncles after his drug-dealing mother is murdered in a fire. As a kid, Marcus is put into drug hustling by his mother's street friend, a kingpin played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (better known as Simon Adebisi in "Oz"). Eventually Marcus grows older, picks up a love for rap, but cannot let go of the streets. The same night he commits a robbery with his cohorts, one of whom is played by Terrence Howard, he's shot in the back.
"I had to focus physically on what I was doing in order to get it right thematically. The portion where I was being operated on, I was sitting on the table for eight hours. But I been in this position before where these guys over me are just good actors. They don't understand how possible it is to be in that situation. When you've already experienced it, you're a little more conscious of it."
Off-camera, 50 said the toughest part was getting in his zone in the midst of fans. One time his director, Jim Sheridan � whom he says he still hangs out with � even yelled at him for doing so.
"He yelled at me toward the end when it didn't matter if I quit or not," 50 said. "We was in the Bronx shooting exteriors and don't understand that once we get back to New York I am 50 Cent regardless of what character I'm playing. They'll say, '50, focus, don't pay attention to the people.' I'll say, 'OK.' "
But the fans didn't understand.
"It'll start off like, 'Yo 50, we love you! 50! 50!' " he said. "They'll notice you're not paying attention to them and it's like, '50! F--- you, 50! D-Block! Dipset! Two guns up!' It turns into anything they can say to get your attention. They really don't mean anything bad by it. You got the kids who can't purchase the ticket by the barricade. 'I'm looking at 50. 50's right here!' That's how 2,000 kids get there. They get on their phone and be like, '50 is right here on my block in the Bronx.' It was 2,000 people easy, so I threw money in the crowd. Jim is like, 'What the f---? You'd think you'd do something better that than that. The kids are gonna kill each other.' "
No deaths, though. And in the movie, 50 isn't giving Arnold Schwarzenegger a run for the body count record, as you might expect. The G-Unit's general kills way more people on Get Rich or Die Tryin' the album than he does in the movie. Heck, he draws more firearms on the song "Gunz Come Out" off The Massacre than he does in the film. "Get Rich" is more of a focus on characters' emotions than it is their actions. We do see a side of 50 we've never seen before: his bare backside.
"For me, I'm already conditioned to be a rapper. This is the first step in establishing myself as an actor. I take my time with it ... plus Denzel and them are getting old," he laughed, causing the entire room to laugh with him again.
"To be honest with you," he added, "when the idea first came up, I was like, 'OK, let's see what happens.' It wasn't until I actually read the screenplay that I got excited and wanted to do a good job at it. I'm a rapper first. I'm not looking to turn into your super actor."
After a long pause, he finished.
"I might, because I did a really good job in the film. That's because once I commit to something, I can work at it hard enough to get a good job done."