The new film "Keanu" stars the comic duo known as Key & Peele as Clarence and Rell, two average, law-abiding citizens living in Los Angeles.
The two suddenly find themselves swept up in a life of crime when they try to retrieve Rell's adorable kitten, Keanu, who's fallen into the hands of a notorious gang leader named Cheddar.
Cheddar's posse is made up of guys who couldn't quite make it into the Bloods or the Crips; they're called The Blips. Among the Blips gang is a man named Bud, played by actor Jason Mitchell.
You might remember Mitchell from his performance as Eazy-E in last year's Straight "Outta Compton."
Mitchell sat down with Take Two's Alex Cohen to talk about his unconventional journey to stardom.
You started acting not that long ago. How'd you get into it?
I actually started acting to make new friends. I was 23-years-old, and I was kinda working dead-end jobs. It was really just unfulfilling. One day I heard this random ad on the radio about this six-week acting class and I went there and I just really, really, really fell in love with it. By the middle of the fourth week, they had an agent come in, and she's like, 'I need everybody to take this a little bit more seriously because this could change your life. Because it's about to change this guy's life.'
She's pointing to you and saying 'this guy's life is going to change?'
Yeah. It took me a little while — maybe like five or six months to book — but it turned into a career.
Indeed, it did, but not without a couple of hitches in the beginning. You landed a part in a Mark Wahlberg film called "Contraband." As I understand it you made the movie and then you got into a little bit of trouble. Would you mind telling us a bit about what happened there?
Yeah, I was actually on probation for something that I had done prior. The movie was just about to come out, and it was just about to premiere, and it premiered in France too, and it was going to be amazing, but I violated, and they sent me to jail, and I had to watch all of that incarcerated.
It put me in a different mind frame because it was one extreme to another. I potentially have the potential to be able to be all the way in France with Mark Wahlberg, and I'm in jail? Are you serious? So I'm just like, you know what, if God lets me out of this then it's no more.
This new film, "Keanu," with Key & Peele, you are once again playing a gangster. He's part of this crew called The Blips. When you first read this script — especially coming out of "Straight Outta Compton" — what did you make of it?
It was hysterical to me. After I did Straight Outta Compton, the main thing that I was focused on was not becoming type-cast. So I was like, you know what? I think it would be cool to play somewhat of the same character, but totally different and make it all about comedic timing versus just telling jokes. I felt like it was a different element that I could show to — not only to my fans — but to show the filmmakers around me — that I got a few things in the trick bag.
Jason, when the premiere of the film that you worked on with Mark Wahlberg happened, you were in jail. The premiere of this film happens tonight. You get to be there. What do you think that moment's going to be like for you?
It's triumphant in a different kind of way because "Straight Outta Compton" was the greatest thing that ever happened to me, but I felt like it was that time where luck met preparation and timing. But I did this movie before "Straight Outta Compton" came out, so as an actor I feel like I went and accomplished something totally different. And I went and put my feet in the sand where I choose to put it, and it just makes it a whole lot juicier for me, you know?
Press the blue play button above to hear the interview.
(Dialogue has been edited.)