Rapper T.I. appears on the big screen

A new face: T.I stars in the action thriller “Takers,” which opened in theaters Friday. Courtesy Sony Pictures

He’s a musician, convicted felon, husband and father whose most recent drama eclipses the headlines that have made him a household name.

Ladies and gentleman, meet the new T.I., the actor.

In “Takers,” T.I., real name Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr., stars as the twisted, scheming and revengeful Ghost.

The portrayal is so entertaining that even the crime thriller’s ensemble cast, including Matt Dillon, Paul Walker, Hayden Christensen and Chris Brown, is overshadowed by T.I.’s performance.

For the actor, “Takers” (now in theaters) is hopefully just the beginning of his career as a leading man. Though the 29-year-old denies that he told a reporter that his goal is to win an Oscar by the time he turns 40, he admits it’s a dream he’d like to realize.

“My sentiment and my point was I’d rather be a full-time actor at 40 than a full-time rapper at 30,” T.I. told The Miami Hurricane during a conference call. “I’d rather be winning Oscars at the age of 40 than still trying to win Grammys. Now, I would like to win an Oscar by 35 if possible, but I’m not trying to rush the process.”

For now, it’s a process he’s trying to enjoy, and one which required little effort on the set of “Takers.”

“Just the camaraderie of the guys… It was really just like showing up and hanging out, man. We just happened to shoot a movie in the process,” he said. “Everybody got along well. Everybody added a different swag to the screen, and it was just an outstanding experience on all levels.”

T.I. wants audiences to remember that the movie is just a movie, not a representation of his life or portrayal of his past.

“This is not T.I. or Clifford Harris’s message. I’m just accurately portraying what the story calls for. I’m taking what’s on the script and putting it on the screen,” T.I. said.

When asked about the potential conflict in playing characters whose beliefs are in stark contrast to the ideas T.I. presents in his music, the actor is intent on separating the two.

“No one questions [Al] Pacino’s values for playing Scarface. No one questions [Robert] De Niro’s values for playing the gangsters he played in ‘Good Fellows’ and ‘Casino’, so what makes me any different?”

Nick Maslow may be contacted at nmaslow@themiamihurricane.com.