The day before our phone interview with 50 Cent is the day he publicly declares bankruptcy. It doesn’t take long to get an email asking that we abstain from mentioning his business affairs, as well as a couple other heavy topics. Despite this, 50 Cent is in good spirits, friendly and talkative when discussing “Southpaw,” the boxing drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Billy Hope, an anguished pugilist angling for a comeback after the death of his wife (Rachel McAdams). The rapper and businessman plays Jordan Mains, his manager/promoter, and it’s a subject he knows a lot about, having been involved in boxing for even longer than he’s been appearing in movies.
The muscled-up Gyllenhaal looks intimidating on screen. Was he actually terrifying in person too?
He looked like he was bigger. When you have all these muscles it makes you look like you’re heavier. He was so chopped because he was really running five miles every morning then training. He looked like he was really doing the work.
It must be strange changing one’s body so dramatically like that. You might not even recognize yourself anymore.
The problem is the process after the fact, when you’ve completed the project and you have all this additional body weight. You might have to go have your blood level checked to see if you’re alright — if you don’t need extra supplements to get yourself back to where you need to be.
You lost 56 pounds for the film “All Things Fall Apart.” How did you deal with that?
Afterwards I went to the doctor, and I did have to make some adjustments. My testosterone levels were a little low. It can drain you from not eating or doing things the way you normally do them.
You play a promoter and manager in “Southpaw,” but you’ve said most of them aren’t as fit as you are — that you’re perhaps too slim for the role. Did you consider gaining a touch of weight for this role?
You know what, I didn’t gain any weight, but I didn’t train. My body got soft during that time period, because I wasn’t working out. What’s sad is you can train hard for a long time and mess yourself up by not working for two weeks. You get on a treadmill and it’s like you died, man. You’re so used to your heart rate having adjusted from not working out. You get comfortable with not doing anything.
Did you borrow from any boxing promoters to portray your character, Jordan Mains? He’s not as flamboyant as, say, Don King.
Some of the lines did feel like Don, almost. The big piece was Al Hayman in the way that Jordan Mains is smart enough to make himself a manager in addition to a promoter. In order to really control boxing you’ve got to come in under a management position. That way you can tell a fighter that he can just listen to you. When you can control whether the fight happens or doesn’t happens then the networks have to go through you.
It seems tough having to juggle business savvy with something as unpredictable and dangerous as boxing.
In business I’ve seen people destroy things when they have something they can replace it with. The sport of boxing is the only place I’ve seen people destroy things just to destroy things.