50 Cent Dishes on Whether He'd Beat 'Southpaw' Costar Jake Gyllenhaal in the Ring and Dating White Women
“You have to hide the anger,” says Curtis "50 Cent” Jackson. "When you can see someone’s emotions shift, you have the advantage of sensing when they’re going to throw the next punch.” He pauses. “And you gotta be careful with who you fight out there.” The Queens-born rapper is on the subject of Southpaw, the new Antoine Fuqua-directed film in which he co-stars as manager to a boxing star (Jake Gyllenhaal), though the message could also pertain to his offscreen life. Despite Forbes pegging 50 Cent's net worth at $155 million in May, the mogul filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 13 after a judge ordered him to pay $5 million to rival Rick Ross’ baby’s mother for releasing a sex tape featuring her without permission. During a recent phone call, finances weren't up for discussion but 50's comments on Southpaw, fatherhood and future career plans only emphasize his belief that the underdog will rise yet again.
Eminem was originally slated to star in Southpaw. How do you think that would that have turned out?
It would have been good with Em, but Jake is on the next level with the things he’s willing to do physically. After I worked with Jake on Southpaw, I went to see him on Broadway in Constellations and in [2014 film] Nightcrawler, and I’m looking at him like, "What the fuck?" [laughs] I told him, "Look man, if you ever start to forget who you are, just give me a call alright? I’ll remind you. Because that’s three different motherfuckin’ people that I saw." That shit was crazy!
Gyllenhaal was in top physical form in Southpaw. Did you work out together?
I’m not going to call myself fat -- I was cuddly during this film, because I was playing the manager. It wouldn’t be appropriate for my character to be as fit. I was like, “I’m going to go have me some cookies and a burger, because I’m your chubby buddy.” I love Italian food. If you put spaghetti and meatballs in front of me, that’s it. I’m done.
Who would win in the ring: you or Gyllenhaal?
Right now, I’d get him, man. (Laughs.) People better not underestimate him though. He threw those punches [in the film]. He threw those combinations. Good actors become a collage of all the roles in their career. You never lose them.
What’s your history with boxing?
[When I was] 11 or 12, there was a place in [Queens] that had a ring and bags and everything set up in there. A guy from the neighborhood who was a Golden Glove champion would train some of the kids. It was very similar to the gym Forest Whitaker’s character runs in Southpaw.
Do you think hip-hop and boxing have a direct connection?
I think hip-hop has a competitive nature that runs parallel to the sport of boxing and I think [boxers and rappers] both appreciate presentation. A lot of times when artists come up without financial freedom, they create their superhero persona that could do all of [the things they want to do] financially. But when the music videos cut, everything goes back: the car goes back, the jeweler takes back the jewelry. It’s rare that most of those guys in hip-hop achieve having those things, acquiring those things.
What advice are you going to give your 3-year-old son, Sire, about defending himself?
You want to teach them right. Karate will teach you discipline and morals at the same time. Allowing the kids to do that kind of training early on is an energy release. Just don’t let Diddy take karate, because he’s going to come over here and try to use that shit!
You adopted the moniker 50 Cent so many years ago. Do you still feel like it suits you just as much as it did then?
You know, I know the difference between me and that guy. But I don’t want to forget how I got here. I don't want to lose it.
What would you like to do next?
I would do a really attractive white girl. I really haven’t done that. (Laughs.) You can print that, by the way. You’re going to see me focus more on my music. [Hip-hop] culture makes you feel like you possess the ability to be a pure entertainer. The simplicity connected to “Go shawty, it’s your birthday,” that’s what has the power to turn into something that is recognized by the world.
An edited version of this story originally appeared in the Aug. 8 issue of Billboard.