De Niro & 50 Cent Vibe Magazine Cover

Posted by blazzin on February 20, 2008

Robert De Niro and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson made their names bringing gangster mythologies to life. Now they’re sharing the screen together in the new movie Righteous Kill. But how hard is it to live up to the image day in and day out? Excerpted from VIBE’s March­ 2008 cover story.

They’re b­oth weird guys. Tough-acting guys, each in his way.

At the photo shoot, De Niro’s early, seated in a director’s chair, reading The New York Times. Looking over the top of his glasses, he asks without speaking, “Where’s Curtis?”

Curtis is stepping off the elevator, looking slim, not quite so superhero about the shoulders. As the bulbs begin to flash, the two of them are a little awkward at first—until Jackson picks up a bat, then a tiny toy pistol, at one point a toy Oscar. When they change into dress suits and ties, they loosen up. On the hanger, the look is very businessman, but the models transform the clothes quickly—to gangsta businessman. There is a menace to these two and an unpredictability. Real, imagined, or engrained by their personas, it’s what they bring, without half trying.

Robert Mario De Niro Jr. and Curtis James Jackson III. No matter what roles they play, no matter what else either of them do—have families, run businesses, write, direct, and produce—De Niro and Jackson are both gangsters. They’ve both made lives of portraying them—50 in real life, onstage, and onscreen, De Niro mostly onscreen—perfecting the pose and madness and especially the cold souls of men who have street mentalities, who have little to no remorse about living lives infused with violence and crime, murder and mayhem.

Jackson, based on his criminal record, his rap records, and the film autobiography, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (in which he played himself), apparently has more tangibles, as an actor, to draw from. But De Niro, who won both his Oscars for playing men who kill at will (young Vito Corleone in Godfather II and Max Cody in Cape Fear) clearly has his mysteries.

De Niro and “50 Cent.” One 64, the other, exactly half his age. De Niro was raised in New York City’s Little Italy by divorced parents (dad was asculptor, painter, and poet; mom was a painter and printer). Jackson was an orphan by age 8, and brought up in his grandparents’ home in Queens, N.Y., with eight aunts and uncles.

De Niro went to a performing arts high school, ran the streets a bit with a lightweight crew—people called him “Bobby Milk” because of his pale skin. Jackson, who boxed as a Junior Olympian, started selling drugs at 12, and served six months in jail in 1994 for selling crack cocaine.

Through his relationships with Jam Master Jay and Eminem, and after a string of now-legendary mixtapes, Jackson realized his dream of becoming rich and of becoming a world-famous MC. Among many other accolades, he’s been nominated for 13 Grammys, won three BET Awards, and two MTV Video Music Awards.

He’s sold more than 31 million albums. And yet somehow, no matter what else he does, every interview comes back to his getting shot nine times. Or was it, as some insist, only five times? It all depends on who’s counting.

By the time he was in his teens De Niro was studying with the best drama teachers of the century, performing Chekhov on the stage. He was receiving wide acclaim when a young director named Brian De Palma cast him in 1969’s The Wedding Party. After winning the ’74 Oscar for The Godfather Part II (the first of two statuettes from six nominations), there was a little film called Taxi Driver, not to mention The Deer Hunter, Raging Bull, The Untouchables, Midnight Run, Cape Fear, A Bronx Tale, Casino, and Heat among many others.  For More Click Here!” 

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