Anthony Mackie on corrupt cops, 'Triple 9,' and Martin Luther King, Jr.

TORONTO -- Actor Anthony Mackie is well familiar with the issue of police corruption, which frames his new star-packed heist film, "Triple 9.

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"I'm from New Orleans. The question of police corruption never went away," Mackie, whose other credits include "8 Mile," "The Hurt Locker" and several Marvel films, said in a recent interview.

"New Orleans is infamous for its police corruption."

Yet Mackie, who still lives in New Orleans and was recently featured in its Mardi Gras parade, didn't see such corruption growing up.

The 37-year-old said when he was young, cops there policed the neighbourhoods in which they lived.

"When you know the mother of the kid that you're arresting or you know the wife of the guy that you're questioning or arresting, it makes it different," Mackie said.

"So growing up when I did, I knew all the cops in my neighbourhood," he continued. "They were on my brother's bowling team or their parents worked with my parents or stuff like that. So it was a different time, cops were cool. When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up and be a cop or a fireman because they were the cool guys.

"But it's different now."

It was that kind of neighbourhood-respecting cop that Mackie aimed to portray in "Triple 9," in theatres Friday.

Mackie plays Marcus, a gang-unit officer with an upstanding reputation who gets caught up in corruption on the force. The Russian Mafia blackmails the group of corrupt cops, demanding that they pull off an elaborate heist that involves instigating a "999," code for an officer-down scenario.

The ace cast also includes Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Aaron Paul, Woody Harrelson and Kate Winslet. John Hillcoat directed the script by Matt Cook.

Mackie already had the weapons training for the role down, having learned it from a sniper while playing a sergeant on "The Hurt Locker." He also frequents the gun range as a hobby.

"I find it very soothing and calming and so I'm very comfortable with handguns," he said.

"It's more about the focus. You basically close everything else out. You focus on yourself and the target and you really go within yourself, almost like being underwater, like scuba diving. It's a very cerebral experience."

Mackie's next role is his biggest yet: Martin Luther King, Jr., in the film "All the Way."

"A life highlight," he said. "It was definitely life-affirming."

Also a highlight is his role as the comic book character Falcon, which he's played in "Captain America" and "Avengers" films as well as "Ant-Man."

"Getting that role was like winning the lottery. It really changed my perspective on my career and everything around," he said.

Mackie loves the costume ("It's dope," he said with a laugh), Marvel fans' passion and the guarantee that "the movie's going to be well-received and it's going to be a hit."

"All you gotta do is show up," he said. "Just make it from the bed, to the car, to the set, to your wardrobe, to set. That's all you gotta do and it's going to be a good movie."

The Marvel world was actually foreign to Mackie before he signed on as Falcon.

He said he didn't read comic books growing up, preferring "The Hardy Boys" and cartoon mysteries instead.

"My brother had boxes of comic books. I mean, hundreds of them, and I used to just rip them up and made airplanes. He hated me," Mackie said with a laugh.

"'Scooby Doo' was my jam."


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