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BlackMen Digital Profile: Anthony Mackie

Thursday 17th, March 2011

Anthony Mackie was born and raised in New Orleans.  After the death of his mother, during his teens, he was encouraged to direct his energies to an after-school theater program. He soon realized his love for acting, and after graduating from the New Orleans School of Creative Arts, and North Carolina School of Arts was convinced to train at Juilliard.  During his Juilliard years, he earned his first critical accolades for his portrayal as rapper Tupac Shakur in the play Up Against The Wind (2001). He followed up with another great performance in the New York production of Talk which earned him an Obie award. Mackie was also Don Cheadle’s understudy in the play TopDog/UnderDog.


These performances won Mackie recognition in Hollywood, which led to his feature film debut in 8 Mile as the main antagonist, Papa Doc, to Eminem’s character. He booked many other day-player and supporting roles in films, such as Crossing (2003), Hollywood Homicide (2003), Law and Order: Criminal Intent (2003), and Brother to Brother (2004), which is about the lives of a young art student and a homeless man. His performance earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination (2004). In addition, Mackie starred in The Manchurian Candidate (2004) before receiving his first lead role in Spike Lee’s, She Hate Me. That film was followed by another lead role in Spike Lee’s Sucker Free City.  When asked about his breakthrough roles in two of Spike Lee’s films, Mackie responded,  “I was flabbergasted. Everybody knows when you’ve got a role in a Spike Lee movie, you’re gonna blow up. But I happen to be the only person who’s had the lead in two Spike Lee movies nobody saw. It was a humbling experience.”


Mackie’s career began to take off, when he booked Haven (2004), Sucker Free City (2004), Million Dollar Baby (2004), Freedomland (2006), Crossover (2006), We Are Marshall (2006), and Ascension Day (2007), where he portrayed Nat Turner. He also had a significant role in the 2008 action thriller Eagle Eye starring Billy Bob Thornton, Rosario Dawson, and Shia LaBeouf.  Mackie was cast to play Tupac Shakur, yet again, in the 2009 film Notorious about the life of famed rapper Notorious B.I.G. Additionally, he was scheduled to follow up with Desert Flower (2009), alongside Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede, and the romantic drama that takes place in the 1976 Black Panther movement,Night Catches Us (2010) with his She Hate Me cast mate, Kerry Washington.


Mackie’s most recent accomplishment was his stellar performance in Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar award-winning drama, The Hurt Locker, which won Mackie a Black Reel award for best supporting actor, a Gotham award for best ensemble cast, and a Washington D.C. FIlm Critics Award for best ensemble cast, followed by a plethora of other nominations.


His upcoming projects in production include: The Adjustment Bureau (2010), Bolden (2010), Real Steel, Babylon (2011), and rumored to be in the pre-production stage, Jessie Owens.