In the upcoming crime caper flick “Takers,” Tip “T.I.” Harris plays a ticked-off character named Ghost who has just been released from prison and feels abandoned by his cronies.
But the Atlanta rap star, who was, in fact, released from prison this spring after serving a year on federal weapons charges, is not ticked off.
“You can never be let down if you don’t have expectations,” said Harris, who turns 30 next month. “There are only two people I really care about, and they were there for me.”
Harris, the self-described King of the South who defines cocky in his tune “Swagga Like Us,” doesn’t look forward to the parallels that will be drawn between the movie and his life. (“Ironic, isn’t it?” he said) But he knows that the “swagga” he brings to the movie has a lot to do with his personal story.
Harris co-produced the movie with business associates Jason Geter, CEO of the T.I. empire Grand Hustle Entertainment, and Will Packer of Atlanta-based Rainforest Films. He is joined on-screen by a hyper-alpha male ensemble, including singer Chris Brown, veteran actors Idris Elba (“Sometimes in April,” “The Office”), Paul Walker (“The Fast and the Furious”), Hayden Christensen (“Star Wars Episode II”), Matt Dillon (“There’s Something About Mary”) and Jay Hernandez (“Crazy/Beautiful”).
Unlike Ghost, who gets out of prison with that chip on his shoulder and a certain resentment of his former colleagues, Harris said he has no beefs to settle following his release.
“I wasn’t sensitive to the point where I feel, ‘You ain’t wrote me, you don’t care about me, you don’t love me.’ I figure I would do what I had to do and get on back out of there, whether somebody wrote or not.”
Harris squelches further discussion of prison -- to talk about it is “to continue to beat a dead horse” -- but he does offer the observation that movies are movies and real life is real life.
In a reality series that he taped for MTV called “Road to Redemption” just before serving his time in an Arkansas prison, he tried to shake some sense into a handful of would-be gangsters by showing them the pain and death that the street life brings.
That doesn’t mean he can’t make a movie about slick, well-dressed thieves who make gangsters look glamorous.
“These are just stories that are interesting to watch and the actors who portray them, they don’t support the beliefs or the thoughts of their characters,” Harris said. “They only portray. That’s what the script calls for.”
During a recent interview, Harris spoke about his clothing line, Akoo, which he said will earn $20 million this year; his relationship with Axe Body Spray and Remy Martin cognac, and the occurrence -- or non-occurrence -- of a wedding ceremony (performed by Andrew Young) that he won’t confirm or deny.
Q. I get the impression that your character, Ghost, doesn’t have the best of intentions for his colleagues.
A. It’s very easy to say that Ghost is not the best person, but one must scratch beneath the surface and peel back the different layers of his back story. Without giving too much of the story away, he put the crew together, He and G [Gordon Betts] were the first two guys in the group. Ghost, he had to take a leave of absence due to some federal obligations. He comes back five years later, he’s looking to jump back in, pick back up where he left off. Whether or not they can trust Ghost, whether they will get away with it, there are so many things up in the air.
Q. Would you talk about working with Idris Elba [who plays boss Gordon Betts]?
A. He’s just a phenomenal talent to say the least. The acting, he’s got that down, he knows what he’s doing, period. And he’s a cool cat as well.
Q: In a month’s time you’re releasing a movie, putting out an album, and you got married [to longtime girlfriend Tameka “Tiny” Cottle]. That’s a big month isn’t it?
A: Two of those things I would love to speak to you about. One of those things, whether it did happen, didn’t happen, is so, isn’t so, I’m not going to exploit it, I would never demean it and mention it in the form of entertainment. If it was to be the case, if it is indeed the case, it is personal and sacred among those involved.
Q. Is the new record “King Uncaged” coming out this month? Next month?
A. I took time off for this project [“Takers”]. For me to be able to market this project, it required my undivided attention. But once Aug. 27 rolls around and we’ve got $20-plus million in the box office, I’ll be right back in the studio submerging myself in the music. I’ve probably got two more weeks' worth of work on it.
About the Author