By Jack Rico
Den of Thieves, is the highly anticipated action thriller to kick off the year. We were fortunate enough to be among seven journalists to sit down with the stars of the films, Gerard Butler, Curtis “Fifty Cent” Jackson, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Pablo Schreider, to talk about the heist thriller (and to joke around, of course).
We were surprised to learn how not everything was set in stone just months before filming. O’Shea Jackson Jr. shared with us how he thought he was going to be playing a totally different character. “I heard about the film for a while before I got the good news, and actually I was supposed to play Evan Jones’ character, and about a week prior they’re like, ‘No, you’re going for Donnie,’ So, you know, that worked out well.” We can’t even imagine Donnie being played by anyone but Jackson Jr.!
Pablo Schreider’s character was also bounced around a lot before Schreider was picked for the role. “You know this is one of those scripts that’s been around Los Angeles for 10 years or something. I had just come off a movie with The Rock and he was like, ‘Oh I’ve heard you did Den of Thieves, I was supposed to do that eight years ago!’” he said in a deep voice, trying to impersonate The Rock, “Sylvester Stallone was supposed to play my role! It’s a very different movie, it bounced around, a lot of people were supposed to play my role. I felt honored to get to do it, and to bring it to the screen.” Schreider also shared how much he loves the different shades of gray that this film has to offer, that it’s not about good vs. bad, “The robbers give a lot of shades of humanity to it.”
Gerard Butler completely embodies the alpha dog that “Big” Nick O’Brien is. He and Christian had so many dinners with producers, for six years! It truly was a passion project and it shows by the way that cast lived and breathed their roles. Butler told us about a time he was out to dinner with the director, Christian Gudegast, “One time he was explaining to me this particular part in the story, and we were sitting, talking, ‘See how you’re holding that glass? That’s Big Nick. Even the way you’re standing.’ I would find it that the more I talked to him, the more I would start to get into Big Nick. And I started eating what I thought it was raw fish.” He laughed before continuing, “And I’m eating it, and eating, and I’m thinking, ‘This is quite chewy for raw fish…’ I’ve eaten two plates of raw chicken that was supposed to be cooked. It was actually when the chef came to start cooking it and he asked, ‘Where’s the chicken?’, I’ve eaten it all, being Big Nick.” Now that’s dedication.
The characters are not the cliché bank robbers and cops, they have so many layers than just that. Butler’s character is very complex, “There are certain things that a character can do and you don’t want to lose an audience, and that was the danger with my character especially; to do with unfaithfulness, coming home with kids in the house, that took a bit of balancing. He’s still your protagonist and you want to be on his side somehow. But you can also give a truthful assentation of who this character is, he’s a cop. At the end of the day, he’s trying to bring down the bad guys, but that involves some low-life activities. He’s made the decision that if he’s going to be the worst, I gotta be worse than that, I gotta eat those people up.” He explained.
Another interesting aspect of the movie is how both the Regulators and the Outlaws are equally matched. “Every single man that was cast in this film was the ultimate alpha male. I mean you look at this man here (referring to Jackson), and me, Pablo, O’Shea, they’re all big guys with a lot to see and yet, you couldn’t see guys bond more than in this movie. Treating each other with a lot of respect, giving their all. It was a lot of fun,” Butler added.
Jackson Jr. explained how this movie avoided clichés and predictability, “You don’t want to be too cliché, our goal as actors is to keep the butts in the seat, you don’t want to give somebody the window to say, ‘Hey imma go get some food,’ you wanna keep them on that edge. Den of Thieves gives you something else to worry about constantly and I feel like that keeping you on edge, avoiding that cliché, is what’s important.” Curtis “Fifty Cent” Jackson also agrees on how there was more to the characters, “A lot of times a heist is just the heist, you know what I mean?” Jackson also added how the film process is a lot of retakes, a lot of rewrites to get it just right, not just for the satisfaction of the actors, and director but for the audience as well.
Because of the many rewrites and reshoots, some scenes didn’t make the final cut. We were glad to hear that some of our favorites scenes were also theirs as well. We got Butler and Jackson to reveal their favorite scenes and for Butler it was the prom scene that involves Jackson’s on-screen daughter. “I hate to say it but that’s my favorite scene.”
“You know what really stuck out to me was when Big Nick confronts his wife and his new guy… Everybody can understand to just like let him chill, don’t fuck with him.” Jackson finished chuckling. Butler went on to say how that scene almost didn’t make the cut.
When we asked them if they could change anything about the movie, what would it be, Jackson Jr., and Schreider both laughed, “More Shea.” Jackson Jr., said coolly whereas Schreider responded while glaring at Jackson Jr., “You know I would have to say the outcome…” I guess you folks at home will have to go see the movie to find out what the outcome of the heist was! Den of Thieves comes out in theaters January 19th .