Michael Jai White starred in some of the most memorable films in the comedy (Why Did I Get Married?) and action (Never Back Down 2) genres, so it was only a matter of time before the actor combined the two worlds with his latest venture Vigilante Diaries. Michael chats with BET.com about everything from starring as the resident rebel in the movie, life on set with Nicki Minaj back in 2010 and much more.
Tell us about your character in Vigilante Diaries.
Barrington is kind of a rogue CIA agent who’s pulling a lot of strings. You’re not quite sure if he’s a good guy or a bad guy, and that goes for a lot of characters in the movie. It’s a dark comedy. A dark action comedy I should say in the tradition of that Quentin Tarantino type of brand.
The film focuses on a dark world where vigilantes bring justice. Could you relate to this as a kid growing up? Were you a bit of a rebel?
Oh, I absolutely was a rebel. I always looked at things out of the box and I always kind of raged against authority. If there was an accepted idea or trend, I dissected it before I accepted it. I was always an individual in my proceeds.
You famously worked with Nicki Minaj in 2010 on her "Your Love" video. What do you remember most working with her?
I didn’t know who she was at the time. My daughters did, and it was a lot of fun. It only happened to be five minutes from where I lived. I had a really good time shooting the video even though it seemed serious because I played the instructor while we were shooting the video, even though it looked like I was instructing, I was telling jokes, and seeing if Nicki and the other cast members could keep a straight face.
In April of last year, you wrote an apology letter to your ex-girlfriends. So many women loved that. What do you think men could learn from that letter?
I think that men could learn a lot from the letter and they have. I’ve received countless accolades from men who tell me it’s changed the way they look at things. I thought I was writing it to my Facebook followers but it just caught fire and even though I was a little upset that it seemed like that was my aim to make a blog for everyone, it turned out to be a very positive thing because, I mean, strangers continuously stop me and thank me for my insight. So I think that was something I wound up being proud of.
A few months ago, you got into a bit of controversy because you said winning an Oscar ruins an actor’s career and you said, "For the love of God please do not nominate me for an Oscar!” You got some backlash for that comment — any regrets saying it or do you stand by it?
The only regret is how negative people try to take anything. I regret saying anybody’s name because instead of using a name to express the point, social media people try to insinuate that I’m going after that person. No, I don’t regret anything I said. I just regret the negative spin that people try to put on to things just because negative sells. There was not one negative thing that I meant towards any person, especially the idea that I was attacking people that were absolute friends of mine and have been friends for 20 years.
What’s the ultimate message you want viewers to take away from this film?
This is just a fun movie. It’s nothing to take completely serious. The movie doesn’t take itself serious so neither should the audience. It’s basically a guy movie. Something that people can have a beer and enjoy. It’s not making any political statements or any deep profound message or anything. It’s total entertainment.
Vigilante Diaries is current in theaters and VOD.
Watch the actor in a hilarious clip from The Real Husbands of Hollywood, above.
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