Justin Timberlake and Anthony Mackie are two of the stars of
a new action film this fall called “Runner Runner.”In “Runner Runner,” Timberlake plays Richie Furst, a Princeton graduate student who gambles through online poker to pay his tuition bills. After losing all of his money, he decides to fly to Costa Rica to confront the man he believes swindled him. Along the way, he is tailed by FBI Special Agent Shavers, played by Mackie. Ben Affleck and Gemma Arterton also star in what promises to be an intense movie.
The State Press participated in a Google Hangout conference call with Timberlake and Mackie to chat about the highly anticipated film.
State Press: Justin, you had to play a college student, and Anthony, you had to play a role against a college student, but I imagine that being in the entertainment business, neither of you had the typical college experience. So, what’s it like playing a college student without that college experience?
Justin Timberlake: For the most part, I didn’t know much about online gambling, because I’m not a big ‘online gamer’ and/or gamer in any way, so I actually have a really good friend who used to be an online poker player and an online gamer, so he kind of showed me the ropes around what that is. But yeah, other than college, I guess I can say I drank a lot of beer, a lot of pub crawls.
SP: Justin, you play a character that’s in the middle of this whole situation where everyone is against you. What’s it like to get into that character?
JT: Here is the funny thing about playing characters that are sort of opposing characters in the movie. I find that, regardless of the relationship the characters have in the movie, I think the more fun you have with the actors and the more collaborative the experience is with the actors, and in a way the closer you get with the actors, that it’s easier to play any type of relationship. For instance, with characters like Anthony and I, he basically terrorizes me the whole movie. But off-camera, it was an opportunity for us to immediately jump in and start dissecting the scene and the material, but in the meantime, you know, hang out and have fun.
SP: Is it more difficult to work on an album or a film?
JT: You know, on the surface it may look like a lot of things are different about the process, but I would say that a lot of what I do with music informs a lot of what I’ve done in playing characters and vice versa. There’s a real rhythm to certain scenes and certain types of movies. Timing is everything in life and acting. It’s extremely important. I guess where it’s different and where I would say making a record is a lot harder is, because it would be like being the producer, the director, the screenwriter, the actor. To make a record, you have to put all the parts together, because you are basically creating your music from scratch. I’ve never written a script before. I’ve never directed a movie before, so I can’t imagine how tricky that could get.
SP: What about your character attracted you to the roles?
JT: I loved the idea of Richie — this character who’s a good guy. He’s trying to do the right thing, but he’s got himself into a hole. It’s kind of the idea of trying to dig yourself out of a hole, but you just keep digging yourself deeper and deeper into that hole. You know, I identify with a lot of things about him.
Anthony Mackie: For me, it was more so I enjoyed the ability to really just push Justin around. My character is such a bully in this movie, and I’m never given the opportunity to grow out my facial hair and look crazy and sweaty and smack up white dudes. So when I’m given that opportunity, I go for that 100 percent.
SP: What makes you guys choose a certain role to take on? And how do you guys think the roles you played in “Runner Runner” helped with your growth as actors?
AM: I wanted to do the movie, because I was a fan of Justin, and Ben and Brad and I were friends. So when they called me and I read it, I felt like it was a no-brainer being associated with those people. As an actor I learned so much, because when you’re running down hallways and doing all that crazy stuff, it’s so easy — like we’re hanging him out of a building two stories in the air, we literally could have dropped him on his head. You know, there’s just so much stuff going on that if you’ve never experienced that as an actor, you kind of have to roll with the flow. With being in Puerto Rico, not here in the States, it adds a whole new element to it to make it more difficult when you speak to somebody and they have no idea what you said.
JT: I just thought, specifically about the movie, what I like about every character is that in a movie like this, it could easily be, in a way, “genrefied.” It could easily become cliché, is what I’m saying. What I love about how this was written, not only is my character intelligent, but Ben’s character is intelligent, Anthony’s character is intelligent, Gemma’s character is intelligent. You know, it just elevates the material, when you feel like the plot of the movie can go in any direction. It’s like going to see a basketball game with two great teams. You got great athletes, but it’s who’s the best on that day. That’s what I kinda like about these characters — the movie can go in any direction based on who outsmarts who. I just think that elevates the material.
SP: With the movie and the online poker and gambling, I know we had a big poker boom with “Rounders.” So what was the interest in coming to this now?
JT: I think that was an extra added bonus that the material we are working on is very “now.” Like I said before, I didn’t realize that online gaming was so huge, and I didn’t realize that so much money was being generated from it down in Costa Rica. It felt very fresh, this movie, because you felt like you were making a movie about something that was happening right now.
“Runner Runner” hits theaters Oct. 4.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com