EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Mackie Talks Muscles and Action in ‘Pain & Gain’
Paramount Pictures

The first of many summer action-packed thrillers hits theaters today. Pain & Gain, starring Anthony Mackie, Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson, follows three bodybuilders as they join forces to kidnap, rob and attempt to murder a wealthy Miami business man.

ESSENCE.com caught up with Mackie to chat about his new buff-body crime thriller, how he got into shape and what it was like to loosen up on camera.

ESSENCE.com: Something that’s really interesting about the film is the unique bond these there characters, Daniel Lugo, Paul Doyle and Adrian Doorbal share.
ANTHONY MACKIE: It was interesting doing the movie and working with Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson. I didn’t get to spend much time with Dwayne, because he’s on his own little island. Mark and I would work out every morning and subsequently built a relationship between those two characters and I think it came across in the movie. I think the aspect of the movie that works so well is what these guys felt they deserved as far as the American dream.

ESSENCE.com: The film is based on a true story of three bodybuilders who rob and murder folks. Did you talk with the original guy in preparing for your role of Adrian?
MACKIE: Not at all. Thinking about it, the dude is on death row. There are a lot of aspects to his personal life that I didn’t want to get in to. I feel like him being a real guy in a movie like this wasn’t so important. Not too many people know about this story, let alone know about him. I felt like if I captured the true essence of what the writer gave me on the page, then I would be able to tell the story and do him justice.

ESSENCE.com: You’re character, Adrian, is wild—he likes to curse, go to the strip club and more. What was it like to let loose on camera?
MACKIE: I loved it! Michael Bay, the director, has a way of making the world a beautiful place. [laughs] He allowed us to go as far and as hard as we wanted to go. It was great. It was really freeing.

ESSENCE.com: Going back to the ’90s in Miami surely helped you loosen up, right?
MACKIE: Yea! Shooting in Miami helped immensely. If nothing else, shooting there helped because we came across so many guys who actually knew these guys and worked out with them. All of the gym scenes, those guys were actual bodybuilders—all these guys worked out at Sun Gym and they were telling us a lot about them. By not meeting [the original guys], we still knew a lot about them.

ESSENCE.com: Your character is really gym obsessed. Are you like that in real life?
MACKIE: I try to be. I try to go to the gym every morning for an hour, hour and a half. It’s just to keep myself in shape. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this movie. I took a four-year period when I was playing cops and stuff like that. So I drunk a lot of whiskey and ate a lot of beef and got fat.
ESSENCE.com: Were you at all intimated joining Mark and Dwayne in this movie?
MACKIE: I met Mark before. He’s just a real down to earth cool dude. But I have this weird thing about me—I’m always overly competitive with men over six-feet tall. I don’t know why. [laughs] Every time I see a dude over six feet, I just want to be really aggressive and I’m five-foot-eleven. Whenever I have to look up at another man I want to bite him. I don’t know why! [laughs] Once I met Dwayne it was on like donkey kong.

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