O’Shea Jackson Jr., Pablo Schreiber Talk Den Of ThievesPosted by Kadeem Lundy
January 19, 2018
Currently in theaters from STX Films is the action heist film, Den of Thieves, starring Gerard Butler, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Pablo Schreiber, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Evan Jones, Dawn Olivieri, Mo McRae, and Max Holloway.
Christian Gudegast is making his directorial debut from a script he co-wrote with Paul Scheuring.
A Los Angeles crime saga in the vein of “Heat”, DEN OF THIEVES follows the intersecting and often personally connected lives of an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. and the state’s most successful bank robbery crew as the outlaws plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank of downtown Los Angeles.
Blackfilm.com had the opportunity to speak with O’Shea and Pablo about their roles in the film. O’Shea is best known for playing his father Ice Cube in Straight Outta Compton and Pablo has working in films and TV for years and can be seen in American Gods season 1. He was also in Michael Bay’s 13 Hours.
“Den of Thieves” hits theaters on January 19, 2018
Can you tell us how you were cast in the role?
O’Shea Jackson Jr.: Woo, man luckily I had heard about the film for a while before I had got the good news. I thought I was gonna play my man Evan Jones’ character, I thought I was playing his role, then about a week prior they were like, ” No you going for Donnie.” So that worked out well. I feel like killed the role. You take a lot more abuse as Donnie. But other than that that’s pretty much it. I was at Blue Jam Café when I got the word.
Wasn’t there some bartending hijinks?
O’Shea Jackson Jr.: For like two weeks I worked at a O’ Brian’s in LA. Shout out to Willie my bartending sensei, and I learned how to bartend so now I just have a cool skill.
Pablo Schreiber: I met with Christian in LA. This is one of those scripts that has been around Los Angeles for ten years or something. I just came off a movie with The Rock and he was like, “Oh, heard you did Den of Thieves, I was supposed to do that like eight years ago.” So I met with Christian, we had a great meeting and I guess my agent sent him some tape from a movie I did that went to Tribeca Film festival last year. He loved the tape and thought it was right on for the character so he offered me the role and we went bing bang boom. But after the fact I found out that because it has been around for so long that people as varied as Sylvester Stallone was supposed to play my role at one point. It’s a very different movie, the age bracket is not quite the same. I guess it bounced around a lot of people a lot of different people were supposed to do my role for a while, so I felt honored to get to do it and bring it to the screen.
Speaking of your character what’s your favorite thing about your character and what’s the one thing that reminds you of your character?
Pablo Schreiber: So Merriman, one of the things that interested me most about it, the script in general more than just the character is it’s not a typical cops and robbers, good guys, bad guys . There’s a lot of shades of gray, you almost sympathize with the robbers more than you do with the cops because of how awful the cops are. For the robbers they give a lot of shades of humanity to it. And one of the most interesting details for me was the military aspect , the fact that these guys had been overseas had served and left that place with obviously the harsh reality they had dealt with over there and came back with a skill set they didn’t know how to put to use. And eventually because of difficulties at home they ended up putting that to use in ways that is not advisable for children out there. But for me the military aspect was the thing that gave it the most depth., and then there were other things as movies happen things get trimmed, there was a kid and a lot of things that kind of added to the flavor of the character. But here we are with what we have.
O’Shea Jackson Jr.: I feel that Donnie doesn’t say a lot . He’s not really always as vocal as what he is thinking and I’m in my head a lot. A lot of my day is spent in here and I feel that Donnie has that same aspect. He definitely is the mysterious one of the group and that’s a lot of me trying to keep my head down. I’m around these giants who could kill me do to the situation. So it’s definitely just a guy walking on eggshells making sure he doesn’t make too many waves in a pretty deep ocean. And so I like the aspect of always in your head always trying to stay out the way but yet stay a step ahead and I don’t know if you seen the film, but it catches up with me a few times, which is natural Shea stuff. I feel like he’s relatable because we’ve all been in bad situations you know wrong place wrong time. Just trying to keep my head on my shoulders.
What do you think are the basic elements that turn a crime thriller into a classic?
O’Shea Jackson Jr.: Not being too cliché. You don’t want to be able to predict what will happen next. Our goal as actors is to keep the butts in the seats. You don’t want to give somebody a window to “Hey, I’m gonna get some food” or “Hey, I’m gonna go to the bathroom.” You wanna keep them on that edge. I feel that once you give people something to worry about, if you just focus on that AB story it’s lost your people can pretty much predict the outcome. But Den of Thieves gives you something else to worry about constantly. And I feel like that keeping you on edge that avoiding the clichés is what’s important to keep it a classic.
Pablo Schreiber: That’s a really good question. You never want to shoot for classic. Classic is something that happens to you and if we’re lucky enough to be an entertaining movie that people like and leave the theater talking about then who knows down the road that stuff gets decided later. We’re in good company and we’re shooting for high bars like Heat & The Town these movies are now classics because people responded to them well. For us we would just like to be entertaining and have people leave the theater enjoying their experience and we can worry about classic later, but thank you.
So you guys personally had to plan a bank robbery what would you do differently than your character in the movie?
Pablo Schreiber: Not get caught, not die (laughs). It’s a very very intricate set up that they’re doing they put a lot of research into this. They’re obviously all very highly intelligent guys. It looks like specifically my character is highly intelligent and we won’t tell you why that might not be the case strictly to speaking. The thing I would do the same is be as prepared as these guys really look at every detail like they did. And as I said probably the thing I would probably do different is not get caught or die.
O’Shea Jackson Jr.: That’s a huge bullet point. The least messy the better. And no tattoos, I saw The Town. The best thing to do I guess is to just naturally have the money in the bank instead of trying to steal it. Nice corporate job, sell an app or do what 50 does shout out to uncle Curtis. That’s a wild guy I miss him already.
Pablo Schreiber: Look for legal ways or just try.
What was one of the most interesting things you learned as a bartender in your research that surprised you the most?
O’Shea Jackson Jr.: I definitely heard a couple of stories while I was bartending at O’Brien’s a lot of people want to quit their jobs in LA, so that was cool. I had to hear a lot of depressing stories from them. But I would say my most interesting thing I took from was the Special Forces training. That’s cool if you’ve seen the film I don’t do a lot of that, but it’s just a good skill to have.
Pablo Schreiber: Oh now it’s a positive thing
O’Shea Jackson Jr.: No I don’t like doing it, but now that it’s done it was good that I did it. It’s annoying at nine in the morning freezing in Atlanta.
Pablo Schreiber: Shea’s favorite line during training was ‘I’m just a driver why do I have to be here. All I have to do is this. O Shea Jackson Jr.:All this jumping and falling and crap, no I’m in a seat. Pablo Schreiber: Now that you got trained up now you like it. Now that people pointing out you’re in some action scenes and you look good doing it, You’re like oh the training was the best
O’Shea Jackson Jr.: No No the training sucked but it was my favorite thing I took from the film.
What was your favorite scene to film?
O’Shea Jackson Jr.: My favorite scene to film..nah, nah I can’t put us on blast. The driving scene between him and I looks a lot cooler on film. I gotta let you guys in on a little secret, Shea doesn’t know how to drift and do all that cool stuff. So like he and I have to react a lot so it’s a lot of us just throwing our bodies around and so that was definitely cool and who doesn’t like shooting a gun every now and then.
Pablo Schreiber: I would say the action scenes are my favorite because that’s usually my favorite to do and I really enjoy getting in there and learning all the technicalities but we had some doozies on this one. There was this one scene it was this set up it was called the corridor and everything was in prep for this corridor scene where this big shootout in between these cars. So the whole movie was prepped for this like getting ready for the corridor, learn your moves for the corridor get your gun thing through the corridor, then we got to the corridor and we had already had some action scenes with the guns before that and the day we shot the corridor the guns stopped working and especially mine. When I did 13 Hours, I did a lot of military training for that. I was highly prepped, I came into this a step ahead and ready to go so when we got to the big shootout scene every time I stepped out to shoot, it was like click. Then it eventually got to the point where they couldn’t do anything. Our guns are broken so when you step out and go like that can you pretend you’re shooting. Then it was a real challenge because I couldn’t stop myself from making the gun sound because the gun wasn’t doing it. So they’re like, “Dude, that’s great! It looks good but don’t make that brrr sound because we can see that thing you’re doing with your mouth.”
O’Shea Jackson Jr.: You guys hear about how hectic they are about the corridor scene and us training for it. You know where Shea is in that corridor scene, in the back of a truck. So this is why I complained about the training. I just drive, I’m just a driver.
Clip – Interrogation
Clip – Federal Reserve