Anthony Mackie, co-star of the recent blockbuster "Captain America: Winter Soldier," and a New Orleans native, stopped by for a victory lap Thursday after his big-budget breakthrough role. He shared some stories about his career and his love for his hometown.
Fellow New Orleanian Wendell Pierce once spoke at Mackie's school, dressed head to toe in white linen. "He was the cleanest Tommy Bahama brother I ever saw," Mackie said.
After Mackie called New Orleans "my woman," Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell said that a lot of ladies in the city would be disappointed to know he was already taken.
Mackie quoted the opening lines of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," "If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die." He said those lines inspired him to move back home after Hurricane Katrina.
Mackie is also known for his role as the villain in rapper Eminem's pseudo-biopic "8 Mile" and for starring in Spike Lee's "She hate me."
Anthony Mackie is one busy dude. First it was Captain America: The Winter Soldier, then he’ll be alongside Chris Evans again in A Many Splintered Thing, and now Anthony Mackie has been cast in an as-yet-to-be-named Christmas comedy movie with Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The movie will star Rogen, Gordon-Levitt, and Mackie as three childhood best friends who reunite for their annual tradition of going out in New York City on Christmas Eve. It sounds promising: it’s penned by the same writer as 50/50, and stars your imaginary celebrity boyfriend. But it may suffer from the one disease that plagues many of the movies Mackie stars in: token black guy syndrome.
This is not a new phenomenon by far. Lots of movies have one token black guy (or any character of color, really) who’s a significant supporting character, but never the lead role. Sometimes it’s unintentional, sometimes it’s intentional to discourage claims of whitewashing — a sort of diversity quota for film. There are some great characters who are token black guys. But regardless, on a large scale, it paints a picture of the place minority characters have in today’s media: they’re either nonexistent or nonessential.
And someone like Mackie has a career full of roles like this. He played supporting roles in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the The Hurt Locker, and a friend in A Many Splintered Thing. For buddy comedies like his upcoming film with Gordon-Levitt and Rogen, the chances of being the token black friend are incredibly high (see: That Awkward Moment, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Hot Tub Time Machine, etc.).
Update: Seth Rogen let us know that Mackie will play an equal part in their Christmas movie, which is excellent, excellent news.
Fortunately for Mackie, his career seems to be taken a different turn, and it’s about time. He’s been cast in a new Jimi Hendrix biopic, and his involvement in the Marvel franchise means that there’s a good chance his character of the Falcon will eventually get a film of his own. But that’s not the problem — after all.
The problem is the phenomenon itself. The fact that this practice is so common that it has its own TV Trope page means that Hollywood has practically systematically limited how minority characters can be viewed on the screen. Actors like Mackie have proved themselves on screen time and time again; they should be getting lead roles, not searching through a sea of best friend, sidekick roles.
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