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The “King of the South” talks about his role in the hit new movie “Takers”

Kam Williams | 8/31/2010, 11:17 a.m.
(Photo courtesy of Screen Gems, Inc.) The “King of the South” talks about his role in the...

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 The “King of the South” talks about his role in the hit new movie “Takers”

Tip “T.I.” Harris is one of his generation’s most captivating speakers and one of the biggest hip hop artists of all time. Whether they see him conversing with a room full of young people about staying in school and following their dreams, or moving tens of thousands at one of his concerts, audiences are always engrossed by the words of the “King of the South.”

In 2008, T.I. delivered his most potent and important LP to date, “Paper Trail,” and his highly-anticipated, seventh studio album, “King Uncaged,” is set to be released this fall.  

T.I.’s second professional love is acting in films, and in this arena he has taken major steps forward in recent years. He made his motion picture debut in 2006 in the Warner Bros. film “A.T.L.”  He also appeared in the hit Universal film “American Gangster” opposite Denzel Washington, and guest-starred on HBO’s hit series “Entourage” in 2008.  T.I. recently signed a three-picture deal with Screen Gems that will have him both acting in and producing movies.  

Music and movies are just the leading edge of T.I.’s entertainment conglomerate. He’s also expanding into comedy tours, the nightclub and restaurant scene, talent management, and record producing. In addition, he has launched his own fashion line, Akoo.

Here, he talks about his new movie, “Takers,” a crime caper abut a gang of bank robbers who decide to pull off one last heist before retiring. The film co-stars Zoe Saldana, Chris Brown, Idris Elba, Paul Walker, Michael Ealy and Hayden Christensen.

What interested you in “Takers?” It seems like you had a hand in every aspect of this project, from acting to the soundtrack to executive producing.

I was just producing, not executive producing. It was an outstanding experience. I had a phenomenal time, and I’m very, very proud of the outcome.  

How did you manage to assemble such an accomplished cast? There’s not only Oscar-nominees Matt Dillon and Marianne-Jean Baptiste, but Zoe Saldana, Hayden Christensen, Idris Elba, Chris Brown, Paul Walker and Jay Hernandez as well.

I think that the script did most of the work in terms of attracting the talent because it was so exciting that everybody jumped at the opportunity not only to work together, but to be a part of something we felt had so much potential.

And how did working with this ensemble turn out?

Man, it was an honor and a pleasure.

It even has a chase scene with Chris Brown doing some “parkour,” that French, free-running form of movement popularized in District B-13 and the first James Bond film with Daniel Craig.  

Yeah, it definitely reads like a fast-paced, high-energy action flick.

How did you prepare for your role?

I think the first step in preparing for this or any other role involves developing a clear understanding of the script, and then mentally placing yourself in the scenarios of your character.

I see that people are already calling “Takers” “T.I. 11” and “The T.I. Job,” allusions to "Ocean’s 11" and "The Italian Job." How do you feel about that?