Anthony Mackie:
Happy Man

Anthony Mackie, star of the new romantic thriller "The Adjustment Bureau," talk sacrifice, happiness, and being punched in the face by his mother.


PHOTOGRAPH: ANDREW SCHWARTZ / UNIVERSAL

Anthony Mackie is a happy man. “I’m happy as hell,” he says, as if his mile-wide grin and infectious laugh didn’t make that clear the moment he walked into the room. “I know a lot of people,” he continues, “and I would venture to say only three of them are truly happy. I’m one of the three.”

Mackie’s happiness certainly doesn’t stem from the roles he typically embraces. Rather than the expected comedies, his filmography is full of serious, thoughtful fare such as “The Manchurian Candidate,” “Million Dollar Baby,” and “8 Mile.” The film that arguably put him on the map, last year’s Best Picture winner “The Hurt Locker,” is a grim, razor-tense war flick about a bomb disposal unit in Iraq. ‘Serious’ and ‘grim,’ however, are not adjectives I would apply to the man sitting in front of me: he’s making wisecracks before we’ve even started the Q&A and I’m concerned, only half-jokingly, that his chair will be unable to contain him.


PHOTOGRAPH: ANDREW SCHWARTZ / UNIVERSAL

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The film we’re here to discuss, “The Adjustment Bureau,” is yet another entry in Mackie’s serious and thoughtful acting resume. The film is a romantic thriller about presidential hopeful David Norris (played by Matt Damon), the woman he loves, and the shadowy Adjustment Bureau who are determined to keep them apart. Mackie plays Harry Mitchell, a Bureau agent assigned to David’s case who must answer to the Chairman, a mysterious figure who controls events from behind the scenes. The film heavily implies that the Chairman and Bureau agents are stand-ins for God and angels respectively, although Mackie dismisses that interpretation. “I think if we put the title of God on the Chairman,” he says, “we lose the idea of what the film is trying to say…we lose the point of our free will…I’m from the South and I’m a firm believer in family. I feel like every person on this earth, their fate is dictated by the way their parents raised them. I believe that. I would not be here sitting in this seat right now if my mom didn’t punch me in the face everyday.” Although Mackie says this last bit with a laugh, there’s an honesty to the statement that indicates he received his fair share of smacks to the head. “I think when you look at the Chairman and the idea of who the Chairman is, the Chairman is [different for] each one of us individually…for me, the Chairman is my mom because she will punch me in the face.”

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