Note to action movie directors: you probably don’t need to tell Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson — juvenile crack dealer turned multi-millionnaire rapper and movie star - how to take a bullet.
It was a liberty first-time filmmaker Christian Gudegast felt comfortable taking, however, during the filming of Jackson’s latest movie, gritty heist thriller Den of Thieves.
“There’s a point where I get shot in the film, and I did it and Christian was like, ‘No, you didn’t do that the right way,” Jackson recalled at a press event for the movie in Beverly Hills.
“I was like, ‘Trust me, I know what I’m doing.’”
Jackson, raised on the mean streets of Queens by his grandmother after his drug dealer mother’s death in a mystery fire, knows all about how it feels to get shot, of course.
On a May evening 18 years ago, he was hit nine times at close range by a drive-by gunman wielding a semi-automatic pistol in the South Jamaica area of Queens.
Shot in the hand, arm, legs, chest, hip and left cheek, he eventually made an unlikely full recovery while the alleged assailant was killed three weeks later.
“After I got shot nine times at close range and didn’t die, I started to think that I must have a purpose in life,” Jackson would later reflect in his autobiography.
Empowered and newly motivated, he left his criminal past behind, started pumping iron seriously and became the health-conscious, entertainment tycoon we know today.
Most famous for hit hip hop tracks In Da Club and Candy Shop, the soft-spoken Jackson has become as much a worldwide brand as an actor and musician.
Complex family life
Den of Thieves, his 24th movie, follows the intersecting lives of the major crimes unit of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the “Outlaws,” an elite band of robbers.
The 42-year-old gives a laconic, brooding performance as a disciplined father-of-five who has managed to demarcate his family life and criminal career as the Outlaws’ second-in-command.
In real life, Jackson has been frank about his complicated family situation, reportedly paying $12,000 (Dh44,063) a month on child support for his two younger children.
He is estranged from his older son Marquise, publicly disowning him via an Instagram post in October last year, and the pair have sparred on social media.
In Den of Thieves, Jackson gets to deliver one of the movie’s rare humorous moments as the overprotective father who uses the Outlaws to intimidate the boy taking his teenage daughter to the prom.
“Whether you have a female child or not, you can use your imagination and say if that was my daughter, she’d be my little princess,” Jackson said, asked if the scene made him reflect on his own role as a father.
Every member of the main cast were put through a grueling two-week boot camp before filming began in Atlanta to give them a comprehensive understanding of the weapons and how to move with them.
This, of course, would have been a cinch for Jackson, famed for his granite-hard six-pack, and a punishing gym regimen that includes going twice on Sundays.
He is famous for shedding a quarter of his fighting weight of 214 pounds via a nine-week liquid diet to play an athlete who battles cancer in All Things Fall Apart (2011).
One suspects that Jackson wouldn’t be too happy piling it on for a role, but he insists he would not only do it if the part required, but would enjoy it too.
“I’d have to go away so people didn’t see me for a [while]. I think I could pull it off... though it would kill me trying to come back from that,” he says.
Jackson rose to fame with his record-shattering debut Get Rich or Die Tryin’ - one of the fastest selling albums in history that has shifted more than 30 million units.
His movie career has included roles in Antoine Fuqua’s boxing drama Southpaw alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and in Spy, with Melissa McCarthy.
Meanwhile his business empire has taken in footwear and apparel, fragrances, video games, publishing, vodka, health drinks, Casper mattresses and health supplements.
Estimated in 2015 to be worth $155 million, he filed for bankruptcy, telling a court his flashy lifestyle was a facade, with his expensive jewelry and cars rented.
Next up for the entertainer, as he rebuilds his fortune, is a sequel to his 2013 movie Escape Plan, which will see him reunited with Sylvester Stallone.
Then in the summer comes the release of his long-awaited sixth studio album Street King Immortal, originally planned to hit stores in 2011.
Like many busy stars who have interests in multiple businesses and entertainment projects, Jackson is often asked what he does to decompress and usually mentions the gym.
“How do I relax? I’m going to tell you the truth,” he confides, going off script for once.
“I’m single and I’ve got a lot of good female friends.”
Don’t miss it
Den of Thieves releases in the UAE on February 1.