Justin Timberlake, Anthony Mackie talk ‘Runner, Runner’Posted on October 3, 2013 | by Mohamed Hassan
In the past few years, Justin Timberlake has significantly altered his image, transforming himself from a dreamy pop star to a serious and multifaceted actor by taking on roles such as Sean Parker in “The Social Network.” Now, on Friday, Timberlake can be seen in “Runner, Runner,” perhaps his most unlikely career move to date.
In “Runner,” Timberlake plays Richie, a Princeton college student who loses his tuition money through an online poker game. After confronting the man he believes cheated him — the corrupt gambling mogul Ivan Block (Ben Affleck) — he finds himself becoming Block’s protégé. Anthony Mackie co-stars as an FBI agent who uses Richie as leverage against the dangerous man.
“I’ve never played a character quite like this,” Timberlake said in an online video chat with WSN alongside Mackie. “It was a lot of fun for me to be the guy who’s in the eye of the storm that everything is kind of happening to, versus the instigator.”
Mackie described a similar motive for choosing to tackle his role.
“For me, I wanted to do the movie because it’s different than everything I’ve done before,” he said. “I’ve never really been able to be the off-the-handle, crazy cop guy. And it [was shot] in Puerto Rico, and I love rum. So I was like, ‘I can shoot a movie in Puerto Rico and drink rum. So why wouldn’t I do that?’”
But filming the movie did not always feel like a vacation. Timberlake and Mackie both discussed the pains of filming one particular chase scene.
“There was this burnt out building we were shooting [the scene in],” Mackie said. “It was literally mud and goop, and all kinds of shit everywhere … and there was this other actor in the scene … he was a big, stocky dude, and he was beating the shit out of Justin every take.”
“He was going hard on you,” Mackie said to Timberlake. “I was like, ‘Yo, glad it ain’t me.’ I was in the background laughing at [Timberlake]. That was my favorite moment.”
Of course, with his level of fame, rumors frequently surround Timberlake’s future career moves, the most recent of which suggested he would be playing the Riddler in an upcoming Batman film. Timberlake shrugged off that rumor with a smile.
“The Riddler thing came up because someone asked me if I would play Robin [alongside “Runner” co-star Affleck], and I said no, respectfully,” Timberlake said. “They said, ‘Well, what about a villain? Then I was asked who my favorite superhero villain was, and I did say that my favorite is the Riddler, but that’s as far as [I will be] going with it.”
Timberlake also reflected on the theme of the American Dream, a central idea in “Runner.”
“The American Dream, in my opinion, has always been the same,” Timberlake said. “I think what’s changed is technology … the only thing that’s new about the American Dream is the access we have through the technology, to do things faster than we ever have.”
“That’s what was so fun about this movie,” he said. “Making a movie about something that’s happening right now.”
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 3 print edition. Mohamed Hassan is a contributing writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.