O’Shea Jackson Jr. has a promising acting career so far, despite only appearing in three released films (Straight Outta Compton, Ingrid Goes West, and now, Den of Thieves). He also has the Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron comedy Flarsky, not to mention Godzilla: King of Monsters, coming up.
But during an interview to promote Den of Thieves in LA this week, Jackson revealed his real dream: to work in video games.
We talked about that, plus training for the heist movie Den of Thieves, getting chased by kaiju in Godzilla: King of Monsters, his favorite WWE superstars, and more.
GameSpot: What are you playing lately?
O’Shea Jackson Jr.: NBA 2K, of course. You know, I like my VR Skyrim right now, and then Grand Theft Auto V just keeps f***ing updating itself so how could you not. That is like the grown-up version of The Sims.
You got a Switch?
No. I really just need it for Odyssey. I really want to play Odyssey. Nintendo always gives you one exclusive title that makes you have to get their s***.
I wanted to ask you about the training for the movie since you didn’t have as many action scenes. Your stuff was more low key.
Yeah exactly. You know, when I read a script one time I don’t like to keep going over it. If you know too much it can mess up your performance–at least for me, you know, I’m still trying to get my feet wet a little bit when it comes to acting. But I like staying in the realm of not knowing what’s going to happen next.
I came to a realization during the training, of “Do I shoot my gun in this movie?” And then I realized, no, I’m just working to work. I’m all for team bonding, and chemistry is so important in a film, but you know, I didn’t get to shoot this s***! I’m waiting to do something cool, and by the time we got ready for the [climax], they looked up the scenes, and they’re like, “Yeah O’Shea, guess you can sit this part out.” And it was the longest part of training! So yeah, I bitched.
You’ll probably get to shoot in the next one though?
Lord willing, of course, I will always be ready for any film, but I got to kill like eight people in Godzilla.
Are you like a giant monster movie guy?
Oh dude, Godzilla is–I listed him as one of my five heroes as a kid.
Was that cool getting to work on that?
That was the biggest thing, I think personally, for me, in my life, to be a part of Godzilla–it made you feel like you’re on the right path when you start connecting with things you’ve always loved. With Straight Outta Compton, I got to sit courtside at a Lakers vs. Thunder game. And Kobe came up to me, gripped me on the shoulder, and he said, “You finally made it, huh?’ And it was just like, oh my–I’ve been waiting for my f***ing hero to tell me this my whole life!
And then my agent, Brad Slater–the man–he’s The Rock’s agent, so I got to go to Wrestlemania and meet The Rock and talk to him. I was like, OK, my dreams are happening kind of fast. I think I’m about to die or something. And then you get Godzilla. So it’s really, you know, if I meet Sonic the Hedgehog some kind of way, life will be good. The only two people left are Sonic and Goku.
We could maybe hook that up. I just interviewed The Rock for Jumanji. He’s the nicest dude.
Super f***ing jolly giant. You know he’s like 6’4″, he’s like a door.
Speaking of big dudes, were you ever actually scared of Gerard Butler when you were shooting some of those scenes with him, where he’s like slapping you around?
No, no, never. I’m the new guy in more ways than one with the other thieves, and I really had to stand my own. I really needed to show that I’m here to play. You see actors, and a lot of times you have to get in that mode, you have to keep yourself there. You don’t really like too much interaction, because you’re trying to focus on however your character feels at that moment. And until you hear “cut” you don’t like to break that. So what I was trying to do on set, I would show them that they were killing me and doing all that stuff, and making it look gruesome, and spitting everywhere, and hurling everywhere, and then when I hear cut, you know, I’m back to talking and normal.
So it would throw them off–I could see that it was like “This dude’s f***in crazy!” And I love that. That was my psychological warfare. So to hear him say that in the press conference, it worked. During that scene where people were like “O’Shea, are you alright?” I’m like “Yeah, dude, I’m fine.” You know? I watched WWF. I know what I’m doing. I’ve been choked out before–I’m a little brother! If I had to make a highlight reel of my career, that scene right there, I knew this was where I had to bring it. And if I can kill this like I see it in my head, it would mean a lot to me and a lot for me. So I’m glad I could make Gerard’s big ass uncomfortable.
Was that the most intense scene you’ve done? Or is there something more intense yet to come, like in Godzilla or something else?
That’s definitely the most intense scene I’ve done. Den of Thieves is by far the hardest film I’ve worked on. Well, I’m not gonna say “by far,” Godzilla is right up there, because Godzilla we had a lot of–not as far as the performance, but there was just things that we had to deal with that were more challenging, like, you know, there’s supposed to be this giant storm in Godzilla, so in the movie, it’s three scenes, but when you’re filming it, you’re getting wet all day from a hose all day. Your feet are pruning, just for them to start peeling, and then when you get to your hotel, you have to come back and get wet again.
So it definitely had its hard days, but Den of Thieves, I really had to show my skills. I really had to show that I’m here to stay.
Did you have to do a lot of green screen stuff in Godzilla?
I said green screen, and I got there, and they were all blue! It’s all blue screens. And it’s hard running from s*** you can’t see. You know, it’s just more difficult to be like, “No, O’Shea, look at the [marker]!” You get wind and rain in your face, and you’re trying to find it, so it’s a lot of eyeline issues, but yeah, we still went through it. We had to run through epsom salt that looks like snow in the film, but its epsom salt because we’re in Atlanta. It challenged my body more than my mind.
Have you seen any of it yet?
Just the dailies. They have this cool process, pre-vis, which is pre visuals, and they kind of have it mapped out, the whole scene mapped out, with the monsters in it, so you can kind of watch at first, but it looks like the old Goldeneye graphics, like from Nintendo 64, so everybody’s a little blocky, everybody’s a little pixelated, but you get the idea. And that’s the only way that I’ve seen the film. So I’m excited about that. I’m just trying to get into Kong vs. Godzilla.
Do you want to do more comedy after Ingrid Goes West?
Hell yeah. I did Flarsky, with Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron. That’s a comedy. I play Seth’s best friend, I sold an app so I’m like a billionaire, so that’s a cool role you’d want. And with stuff like Ingrid Goes West, I definitely like smart comedies that have a deeper meaning than what they’re showing you, and Ingrid really had a message of what today’s times are doing to society as far as safety and as far as mental health of others and how people have to go through a battle that we may not see every day. And I got to make out with t on the first day! So it was like yeah, I would f***in do Ingrid Goes West 1,000 times.
Who are your favorite wrestlers right now?
The Rock. Listen, The Rock is the great one, but I will say this for the record: The greatest WWE or F superstar is Shawn Michaels. Shawn Michaels through time has always been–HBK! I’m also a fan of Triple H–when he had long hair, not short hair–of course Taker–Vince you should have never let him lose to Lesner–I feel like that was the biggest mistake of the company if there’s any I can list–and I feel that Stone Cold and The Rock are the top dogs, but HBK is the greatest of all time. So if I had to list it: Rock, Stone Cold, Taker, HBK, and I really don’t want to give it to Triple H, but if I had to, I would say Randy Orton.
Are you up to date? Do you have Rumble picks?
Dude no, but I really want to see the lady Rumble. I found out that they’re about to do, I guess the 25th anniversary of Raw or something, but it’s gonna be Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler at the thing again, so that’s dope. And Goldberg, shout out to Goldberg, for getting into the WWE hall of fame.
Do you want to do any work in video games?
Dude. I went to USC to screenwrite, and everybody hears that and thinks that I thought film. I want to write scripts for video games. That’s my dream job. I’m just trying to get famous so people will listen to me in meetings. That’s really it.
Den of Thieves hits theaters January 19.