You could feel the high level of camaraderie at the Los Angeles press conference of the new crime thriller DEN OF THIEVES, where Writer-Director Christian Gudegast, and stars Gerard Butler, O’Shea Jackson Jr., 50 Cent, and Pablo Schreiber shared insightful comments and funny anecdotes.

I had the chance to ask them about a particularly impactful scene, where one of the thieves in the story, Donnie, played by Jackson Jr., faces a violent interrogation by Nick (Butler), after being kidnapped by him and his elite unit.

DEN OF THIEVES is now playing in theaters nationwide.

DH: Mr. Jackson, there is a very intense scene between your character and the cops, specially with Mr. Butler’s character. Can you guys talk about the experience of doing that scene?

O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Donnie): In the beginning of my acting career, there seems to be a theme of being abused by Los Angeles officers. [Laughs] It’s OK, I am used to this. We can make this work! He didn’t really want to choke me out in a hotel room, thank God. I let him know that I am a pro-wrestling fan, so I know how to get a nice choke off. Definitely, it was the most physical role that I’ve taken, but I was in good hands, working with a pro. “O’Shea Jackson Jr. was in no danger during the making of this movie.” [Laughs]


Gerard Butler (Nick Flanagan): I don’t know about that. [Laughs] We beat the s*** out of him. It’s supposed to be a very intimidating scene. I found it very revealing and fascinating. On the first day, O’Shea was cracking joke and being very nice, and we thought “This ain’t going to work! At least he has to pretend that he’s very scared.” So, we just started slapping him around, even between scenes. It really allowed the scene to work, but it really got grueling at times. I started choking him out a bit, and this is the point when it got really revealing: he took it so well, and my jaw drops while seeing the brilliance of his performance. Every time he would let us do it without complaining, and he would react differently. That’s when I went “OK, this kid is actually a genius.” I look at that scene now and I think “I went too far. That’s gross!”

Christian Gudegast (Writer-Director): The blocking of the scene, had him seating on chair, facing the cops. It was like the whole audience was watching him. That was a heavy day, at the end of it, he looked at me and said “S*** man, I don’t know if I can do this acting thing!”
O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Donnie): “I will try basketball!”

50 Cent (Levi Enson): When he stood up, lightheaded, and fell over in front of us, we knew that it was a great performance. [Laughs]
O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Donnie): I had a great time!

While planning a bank heist, a thief gets trapped between two sets of criminals.