It seems like releasing two top-selling albums and touring several countries in just one year wasn’t enough work for Justin Timberlake. The singer now also stars alongside Ben Affleck in the drama thriller “Runner Runner.”
The film centers on Timberlake’s character, Richie Furst, a Princeton student who plays online poker to pay for his tuition. He ends up getting cheated out of his money, so he decides to confront the site’s owner, Ivan Block (Affleck). In a plot twist, Furst becomes Block’s right-hand man.
The Miami Hurricane, along with other college publications, sat down with Justin Timberlake and Anthony Mackie – who plays an FBI agent in the film – through Google Hangout to discuss their upcoming film.
Student media: Justin, you had to play a college student, and Anthony, you had to play against a college student, but I imagine being in the entertainment business, you didn’t have the typical college experience. What’s it like playing a college student without a college experience?
Justin Timberlake: For the most part I didn’t know much about online gambling, because I’m not a big online gamer and or gamer in any way, so I actually have a really good friend who used to be an online poker player and an online gamer, so he kind of showed me the ropes around what that is. But yeah, other than college, I guess I can say I drank a lot of beer, a lot of pub crawls.
SM: Justin, you play a character that’s in the middle of this whole thing where everyone is against you. What’s it like to get into that character?
JT: Here is the funny thing about playing characters that are sort of opposing characters in the movie: I find that regardless of the relationship the characters have in the movie, I think the more fun you have with the actors and the more collaborative the experience is with the actors, and in a way the closer you get with the actors, that it’s easier to play any type of relationship. For instance, with characters like Anthony and I, he basically terrorizes me the whole movie. But off camera, it was an opportunity for us to immediately jump in and start dissecting the scene and the material, but in the meantime, you know, hang out and have fun. I think the more fun you have together, the more comfortable you feel playing a guy or guys that are on opposite ends of the spectrum.
The Miami Hurricane: Is it more difficult to work on an album or a film?
JT: You know, on the surface it may look like a lot of things are different about the process, but I would say that a lot of what I do with music informs a lot of what I’ve done in playing characters and vice versa. There’s a real rhythm to certain scenes and certain types of movies. Timing is everything in life and acting, it’s extremely important. I guess where it’s different, and where I would say making a record is a lot harder, is it would be like being the producer, the director, the screenwriter, the actor. To make a record you have to put all the parts together, because you are basically creating your music from scratch. I’ve never written a script before, I’ve never directed a movie before. So I can’t imagine how tricky that could get, but I would say that from the outside looking in watching the directors that I’ve worked with, I would say that making an album is kind of like being all those things at the same time. So I guess making a record is in some ways a little more difficult.
SM: What about your characters attracted you to the roles?
JT: I loved the idea of Richie, this character who’s a good guy. He’s trying to do the right thing, but he’s got himself into a hole. It’s kind of the idea of trying to dig yourself out of a hole, but you just keep digging yourself deeper and deeper into that hole. You know, I identify with a lot of things about him.
Anthony Mackie: For me, it was more so I enjoyed the ability to really just push Justin around. My character is such a bully in this movie, and I’m never given the opportunity to grow out my facial hair and look crazy and sweaty, and smack up white dudes. So when I’m given that opportunity, I go for that 100 percent.
If You Go
Actors: Justin Timberlake, Anthony Mackie, Ben Affleck
Director: Brad Furman
Release date: Friday