Michael Jai White Talks Vigilante DiariesPosted by Wilson Morales
July 1, 2016
Currently in theaters and on iTunes is the action packed film Vigilante Diaries, starring Paul Sloan, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Michael Jai White, Jason Mewes and Michael Madsen.
Directed by Christian Sesma from a script written by Christian Sesma and Paul Sloan, the film will also be released On Demand, Blu-ray and DVD on July 5.
Vigilante Diaries revolves around a team of black-ops agents turned crime-fighters, led by an elusive, brooding anti-hero of near-mythical physical and weapons skills, known only as The Vigilante (Sloan). Abandoned by governments, corporations and his handlers and with a bounty on his head, The Vigilante’s jam-packed missions of rescue and revenge take the audience from the mega-mansions and underbelly of Los Angeles to far-flung locales including Iraq, Armenia, Russia, and the UK. The film introduces a cast of colorful, dangerous, and hilarious characters with each of these missions. Mewes plays Beverly Hills documentary filmmaker Michael Hanover, who records the exploits of The Vigilante and is thrust headfirst into the middle of the story he is documenting—becoming a high-value target himself in the process. Mix in a trio of Asian femme fatales, a cadre of ruthless Armenian mobsters, and at the top, a pair of deep cover super-spies hell-bent on throwing the world into chaos – it’s no wonder it’s up to The Vigilante, not God, to sort ‘em all out.
For Michael Jai White, who plays Barrington in the film, he’s no stranger to action films. He’s practically a legend in the genre, having done several notables films such as Spawn, Mortal Kombat: Legacy, Universal Soldier: The Return, Black Dynamite, Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown, and its recent sequel, Never Back Down: No Surrender. When he’s playing the action hero, he’s on the small screen in an opposite role as the Marcus the father and husband in Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse, which just completed its 8th season.
Blackfilm.com recently spoke with Michael Jai White on working on Vigilante Diaries and how the role is totally different from his work on TV.
How would you describe Vigilante Diaries?
Michael Jai White: Well, the background is that it started out as a web series and it got popular and so they made it into a movie. It’s Vigilante Diaries and as the name would suggest, it has a vigilante as the centerpiece who is taking out a lot of bad guys around the world. He makes an enemy out of the Mexican cartel and he’s in and out of trouble with the C.I.A. It’s a lot of action. A lot of fun. It’s sort of Quentin Tarantino-esquesh. It’s one of those films that has dark comedy but a lot of action.
What attracted you to the project?
MJW: I knew some of the folks associated with the movie with Michael Madsen, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and two of the filmmakers are good friends of mine. I happened to know and tracked their progress of getting this film done. Those guys and the film spoke to me.
How would you describe your character Barrington?
MJW: Like many people in this movie, there are good-bad guys and bad-good guys. There’s no one who is squeaky clean in the film. Without giving up too much away, Barrington is pulling strings all over the place. You don’t quite know where he is.
Having done a good share of action films, what makes this film stand out?
MJW: It’s a fun movie and I just liked what they were to do with the limited budget they had. There are certain elements of the movie that looked like ‘Mission: Impossible,’ but they made a conservative effort to keep it all on the screen. What brought me to the movie was the tone of it. It’s tongue and cheek and fun and it’s one of those movies where you can just back and relax. I like movies like that. It goes back to the time when you can sit back and enjoy the ride and let the movie entertain you.
How was working with the cast?
MJW: It’s great working with Michael Madsen. We’ve been friends for some years and this is the first time we really got a chance to work together. With Quinton, this is the third movie we have together. He had a role in Never Back Down: No Surrender and we have another movie coming out later this year where we play brothers and that’s called Cops and Robbers.
You have a diverse background when it comes to films and television. Which do you prefer to do? The action films, or playing Marcus in For Better or Worse?
MJW: I’m constantly doing both at the same time. We shoot a whole season of For Better or Worse in one month out of the year and with the other months, I’m doing other projects including the action films. There are all simultaneous but I like action-comedy. It’s like having an alter ego where I’m the husband and father sitcom guy and then I have the total opposite, where I’m the action ass kicker. I think I’m one of those individuals who has a blessed career where I don’t think many get to have.
With For Better or Worse, you just finished up its eighth season. Did you ever think it would go that far?
MJW: We’ve shot like 150 episodes already. There are very few people who get a chance to even do that. If you count the hours, I’m more of a sitcom dad than anything else. 100 episodes a major milestone for most because it takes so many years to get there. We’re closing in on 200 episodes.
Is there endgame for Angela and Marcus?
MJW: That’s a Tyler Perry question and I’m on the Tyler Perry train. We’ll see where the ride ends.
With so much competition out during the summer, what’s a good reason to choose Vigilante Diaries over the others?
MJW: To me, there’s not that much competition. These sorts of movies don’t get done very much. You either have a tentpole that are very careful and very formulaic. Movies that dare to be brash and dark with humor, you don’t much of a chance to see that. It seems that Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie are a few who do those types of films. It tends to be too much of a risk in Hollywood lately. I really enjoy being part of a movie that dares to go against the grain.
MJW: Well, Never Back Down: No Surrender is currently out. That came out to great reviews. Cops and Robbers will be coming out in a few months and then there’s Chocolate City 2 coming out as well.