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Q&A: 'Pain and Gain' star Anthony Mackie

April 22, 2013|Matt Pais, @mattpais | RedEye movie critic

If you played a bodybuilder whose steroid use caused size and performance issues in the downstairs region, you'd expect people to ask about that. But still.

“This [female journalist] asked me, ‘I’ve never seen a crooked, small penis. So can I see yours?’ ” recalls Anthony Mackie, whose role as steroid-induced impotence sufferer Adrian in “Pain and Gain” has him co-headlining alongside Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson. “I basically looked at her and said, ‘You know, the problem with that is, once you start the launch sequence, there’s no abort. So you can’t push the fire missile if you’re not ready for that missile to go off.’ ”

Mackie notes—seriously, I think—that before shooting the film, opening Friday, he obtained written proof that his sexual capabilities are A-OK. Viewers are more likely to focus on one of Hollywood's most reliable young supporting actors (“The Hurt Locker,” “The Adjustment Bureau”) getting big exposure in the Michael Bay-directed action-comedy.

“Pain and Gain” is based on the true story of a pair of buff, hapless Miami guys (Wahlberg and Mackie) who recruit an even buffer, born-again ex-con (Johnson) to help them kidnap and rip off a wealthy businessman (Tony Shalhoub). Spoiler alert: The real victim, Mark Schiller, survived and isn't thrilled about a movie that seems to draw laughs from his near-death situation.

By phone from Miami, the 33-year-old Mackie, who lives in his native New Orleans and soon will play the Falcon in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” talked about bulking up for “Pain and Gain,” why the film's abundance of scantily clad Miami girls doesn't do it for him, and who in Hollywood might want to take a likability steroid.

When you signed on to “Pain and Gain,” what were the terms of how large you had to get, and how were you feeling about that process?
We never talked about size. Basically what happened was I signed on [and] I told Michael [Bay] I'm committed to putting on muscle and working out and getting started on this project. I only had three weeks before I started shooting, so I did a pretty intensive work-out.
I was in L.A. for the Oscars, I guess it was about a year and a half ago, and I bumped into Dwayne. I have this thing about me, it's really weird: Whenever I see a dude over 6-foot, I instantly want to fight him. If a dude's 5-11 or under, I'm cool—shake hands, talk [bleep], have a good time. But if you're over six-foot, I instantly want to fight you. Not sure why.

So I see Dwayne, I go up to him, I'm like, “What's up, man?” He goes, “Yo, what's up.” I'm like, “I just signed onto 'Pain and Gain.’ ” He's like, “Oh, good for you.” “Oh, good for me? Good for you.” [Laughs.] He looks at me and I was like, “Yeah, I'm hitting the gym, kid, I'm going to be bigger than you when I show up to set, so get ready.” And he goes, “All right, man, good luck with that.” [Laughs.] I'm like, “I'm going to give this dude the business!”

So instantly I went back home, started training the next day and changed my diet and put on about 17 pounds of muscle.

You did that all in the next day.
I started my workout the next day. Dwayne is one of the biggest people I've ever come across that wasn't a professional football player or a rugby player—just an average dude walking around. He's the biggest average dude I've ever been around. He was training for WrestleMania so he put on a lot more size than he normally is. So he was massive, man. I got up to 213 pounds. I show up to set and dude is like 250.

You, Mark and Dwayne all look pretty huge in the movie. How would you describe all of you standing next to each other—medium, large and extra large?
[Laughs.] Put it this way: Standing next to Dwayne, a friend and I made a joke. If he's the Rock, my nickname is the Pebble.

And you're OK with that?
[Laughs.] [All of us together] was kinda small, medium and grande.

Why do you think there are so many dumb criminal stories out there?
[Laughs.] It's funny. You ever watch the show “The First 48”?

I haven't.
OK, it's an A&E crime show, and it shows the detectives going through the first 48 hours after a murder, and you realize that most people [who] commit crimes commit them because they're not smart enough to think their way out of a situation. You want people to feel like criminals are dumb because it makes them feel good about not being a criminal.

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