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Video Interview: Anthony Mackie on Triple 9

With the release of John Hillcoat’s Triple 9, we caught up with the film’s star Anthony Mackie…twice! Mackie has had a varied career, appearing in films such as We Are Marshall, The Hurt Locker, and The Night Before. He is perhaps most famous for his role as Falcon in the Marvel films. We spoke with Mackie before the Toronto premiere of Triple 9 before the premiere and met up once again to chat on the red carpet. Check out both pieces below!

Scene Creek: You’ve played a police officer a couple times in other films. How has the mentality of playing a member of law enforcement changed for you, especially considering you play a dirty cop in this film?

Anthony Mackie: The idea of being a police officer for me is really interesting because of the code of the shield. It’s really a fraternity. The thing with this movie that was so important to me, more so than looking cool in the uniform or driving my car fast, was about showing that responsibility to that badge. I feel like even if you’re a dirty cop, there’s still that fraternity that you’re apart of. At the end of the day your job is to get a good story, at the end of the day my job is to make a good movie, at the end of the day a cop’s job is to come home alive. That’s a huge difference. That was the one thing that I went into this movie wanting to portray.

SC: The film has a gritty 1970’s vibe. Did John Hillcoat give you any films to watch as references?

AM: He did. When we first talked about the movie his big thing was The French Connection. That was a big big influence on what he was wanting to do with this movie. And Heat. Those two. The thing I love about this movie and what he was so diligent on wanting to set up was those first ten minutes. When you go through that first heist it sets you up for the rest of this movie. It’s like being on a roller-coaster. When you’re going up that first drop, that ‘tink tink tink’, that’s how that first heist is, and when you go over the cliff it just runs non-stop ’til the end. That’s what we were working towards and I think he achieved it beautifully.

SC: That opening scene is integral to the mood of the film. It starts off with so much energy and an explosive amount of tension. What was it like opening on that scene and reading a script that starts out with such high stakes?

AM: It was fun at the beginning, then it just turned into fucking hell [laughs]. We’re actors dud, it’s hot outside, we got a damn mask on, we don’t have to do this shit, get a stunt man! But John deliberately did that because he wanted to set up the energy for us for the rest of the movie. I think knowing that it’s us in those coats and skullies actually plays a very important role in that scene. All that was fun, it turned to shit when we get in the van and they decide to release this red smoke. So we’re like cool, it’s red smoke, we have masks on, so it’s masks and smoke so get us out of the van! Naw. We’re in the van all day. The guy’s coming up to us are like ‘it’s just red vapours so it’s fine’. We’re puking, eyes red. It was awful. Every time we’d come out he’d just laugh at us “Hahaha. We have to do it again.” It was bad but I think it looks dope. I just never want to do it again [laughs].

SC: So you do a lot of your own stunt work in that opening scene, I imagine that is quite different from the work you are doing on the Avengers movies, where one would imagine that the environment is much more controlled. Is that true?

AM: It’s not. The thing about it is that the Marvel world is more a family atmosphere. It’s definitely much larger but we have so much fun making those movies it never feels like you’re going to work. I have a great stunt man and every time I try to do my stunts they laugh at me tell me how awful I look. They put my stunt man in and he fucking kills it every time. With this it was different because it’s basically that but on a smaller scale. On this movie, you have a budget, on a Marvel movie you don’t have a budget [laughs]. It’s funny when you look at it. They’re both still action movies but with something like Triple 9 what’s so great is that it’s more of a character-driven piece and the Marvel movies are more of a story-driven piece because they intertwine movie-to-movie. That’s the only difference, but I love to be pampered on my Marvel movies, I love to be patted on the back, I love the ice cream breaks. I love all that shit, but on Triple 9 it was more about getting to work.

Matt Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman is a Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films and actresses over the age of 50; including but not limited to: Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep, and Jacki Weaver.