Man on a Ledge star Anthony Mackie has tackled Broadway, the big screen and even the Brooklyn bar scene.It’s not every day that a movie star calls you from his New Orleans rooftop between laying new shingles because the old ones were damaged in a recent rainstorm. But Anthony Mackie is not your typical movie star. A chameleon who effortlessly transitions between acclaimed theater work (he’s an August Wilson regular on Broadway) and stellar turns in films like The Hurt Locker and this month’s thriller, Man on a Ledge, the 32-year-old remains as down-to-earth and humble as ever. He chatted with American Way about his upbringing, his new role and his Brooklyn bar.
American Way: Is it true that reading Shakespeare is what turned you on to acting?
Anthony Mackie: When I was growing up in New Orleans, Shakespeare wasn’t a part of the school curriculum, but I found it anyway and it totally turned me on. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the arts. All that said, whatever education I didn’t get in school, I got on Bourbon Street. [Laughs]
“You’re called into a situation as a cop. As a soldier, you land in situations.”
—Anthony Mackie on the difference between playing a soldier and a police officer
AM: I wasn’t looking for trouble, but trouble always seemed to find me. I’ve been fortunate in my old age to recognize trouble early on, whereas when I was a kid, trouble just looked like fun. I was fortunate; I grew up with both of my parents and five brothers and sisters. There was always someone looking to correct me.
AW: In Man on a Ledge, you play the opposite side of trouble — you’re a cop.
AM: And it’s the first movie I get to play a married guy. That’s hard, man.
AW: You also own and operate NoBar in Brooklyn. What’s the key to running a good watering hole?
AM: Growing up in New Orleans, you get a doctorate in good times, so NoBar is all about customer service and making sure people want to come back. A lot of joints in New York are looking for home runs — get a guy on a $600 bottle and send him on his way. I don’t care about the bottle; I want the guy coming in every day because he feels the love. There’s nothing better than a nice beverage and a pretty girl. [Laughs] That’s the title of my memoir, by the way.