Elba and T.I. were there to promote the film, along with former Wizards star Caron Butler, current Wizards primadonna Andray Blatche, and—for whatever reason—Chris Brown’s mom. Here’s what I learned at the premiere.
1. Don’t attend these things without a camera. I missed out on some great photo ops.
2. Stringer Bell, Elba’s drug-dealer character in HBO’s The Wire, is a better criminal than Gordon Jennings, his character—a bank robber—in Takers. “Stringer is multifaceted and smarter,” Elba said. “He can do more than one crime. In Takers, the guys focus on just one heist.”
3. T.I. isn’t quite sure what’s going on with Virgin Mobile’s FreeFest. I asked him if he was excited to be headlining the festival, and he said, “I’m very excited. It’s a surprise location [Merriweather Post Pavilion] and date [September 25]. I’m just trying to come back with authority.” The tickets went on sale three weeks ago, and the date and location were announced July 2.
4. T.I. may work with the local musician Wale in the future: “I’ve really spent a lot of time with Wale. There’s been a lot of dialogue, and he sat in the booth during some of my recording sessions, but our paths have yet to cross on a track,” he said.
5. In the movie, T.I. plays a man who was recently paroled from jail and returns to his old heist crew for one last job. In real life, T.I. plays a man who was recently paroled from jail and returns to the rap game to re-prove himself. “I don’t know how I could play somebody who just got out of jail,” he joked.
6. The movie has been pushed back a few times, due to T.I.’s jail sentence. “That was one of the toughest decisions we had to make,” T.I. said. “We were sitting on this diamond, and we had to decide when to put that diamond on the market.” Fellow producer William Packer said waiting until T.I. could fully promote the movie was the main reason the movie was pushed back. “You want all your resources on deck. Promoting the movie without T.I., it’s like going to the playoffs with LeBron on the bench.”
7. T.I. doesn’t want to hang out with you: When asked about his favorite place in DC is, he said, “I’m not gonna lay you in on my whereabouts.”
8. Questions about T.I.’s recent wedding were completely off limits. But we spotted a diamond ring hung around his neck. Coincidence?
9. Chris Brown’s mom didn’t talk to anyone. And no one wanted to interview her.
10. Wale showed up fashionably late. As I was leaving the premiere (press weren’t allowed to stay for the movie), he was entering the theater. He showed up with Tiara Thomas, who’s featured on his new mixtape More About Nothing, and Anwan Glover, who played Slim Charles (and Elba’s muscle) in The Wire.
11. Caron Butler didn’t want to talk about being back in Washington after being traded to the Dallas Mavericks last season, but Andray Blatche didn’t mind it. “Caron was a player that raised me through the league, it was sad to see him leave, but on the other hand it allowed me to step out of my shell,” he said. He added that the extra pressure on him should help now that the team has John Wall and Gilbert Arenas, once he returns from his suspension. “It should allow me to play more freely.”
12. Both Elba and T.I. were careful about talking about any future musical collaboration. Elba makes music in his free time. “It’s more of a therapeutic thing for me,” said Elba, who has a song on the Takers soundtrack. All T.I. would say on the matter was, “We talk a lot about music on set.”