Get Cast or Die Tryin’: 50 Cent’s Rejected ‘American Gangster’ Audition Tape Surfaces
Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson/Chiwetel Ejiofor in 'American Gangster' (Photo: Getty Images/Everett Collection)
When you're looking for an actor to cast alongside two Best Actor Oscar winners in a film from the writer of "Schindler's List" and the director of "Gladiator," is 50 Cent the first name (or amount of currency) that comes to mind?
Well, that didn't stop the once and future Curtis Jackson (as he is credited in his movie roles) from trying out for a key supporting role in 2007's "American Gangster." Defamer released a leaked audition tape that rapper-turned-actor made in hopes of being cast as Huey Lucas, the right-hand man to real-life New York drug kingpin Frank Lucas (played in the movie by Denzel Washington).
The tape shows Jackson going through three scenes from the script, delivering his lines directly to the camera as an unknown woman dispassionately reads Denzel Washington's part offscreen. Jackson seems to be performing all his lines from memory (he does stumble over some words in the first scene). He tries two different approaches to the second scene, using a pair of Chanel sunglasses as a prop. And he actually tries to work up some tears in the emotional third scene (though his fast, mumbling delivery makes his dialogue nearly incomprehensible).
At the time, Jackson's major screen credit was playing himself in "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," which did have a fairly strong pedigree: a screenplay from "The Sopranos" writer Terrence Winter and Oscar nominee Jim Sheridan directing. But it was a critical and commercial disappointment. And while Jackson had the real-life experience to play an NYC criminal, the role in "American Gangster" eventually went to someone with a very different background: British-born, classically trained dramatic actor Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Ejiofor may have had an upper hand in getting the role because he had already worked with Denzel Washington once before in Spike Lee's "Inside Man" a year earlier. Of course, he also had the advantage of being an incredibly gifted actor. Ejiofor is now in contention for a Best Actor Oscar himself with his stirring performance in the heartbreaking true story "12 Years a Slave" which opened in limited release last week.
But Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson didn't let missing out on one part slow down his acting ambitions, either. He can currently be seen playing a computer expert named "Hush" (seriously, we're not making that up) in the Stallone/Schwarzenegger prison break movie "Escape Plan." He's hoping we see his audition tape for that soon.