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Mario Van Peebles, director, and actor, makes some strong statements about his 1991 crime thriller New Jack City.
According to him, people have acknowledged the 65-year-film old’s helping them overcome their drug addictions.
“We made that victim Chris Rock, who so took you in that we deglamorized the f–k out of crack, man,” he said during an interview with Page Six.
Many people remember Peebles, Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Allen Payne, Chris Rock, Christopher Williams, Judd Nelson, and Bill Cobbs from the culture-moving film.
Snipes’ character Nino Brown’s emergence as a drug boss in New York City amid the crack epidemic was chronicled in the film.
However, Peebles wanted to get his audience to “emotionally connect” with a character who’s had a crack addiction.
The 65-year-old further stated, “You know, ‘Scarface,’ Tony Montana, it’s still a little aspirational sniffing mountains of coke … but there is no way in ‘New Jack City’ when you see that alleyway scene to say, ‘You know, this looks like a real good idea.’ Nothing sexy about it at all.
Lastly, the legendary director stated, “We showed ‘New Jack City,’ and kids stood up and said, ‘Just say no, motherf–ka.’”
Peebles also discussed his father, Melvin Van Peebles, another prominent filmmaker in his life. In the 1970s, the late filmmaker was best known for making and starring in various films, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and Watermelon Man.
He died in September 2021 at the age of 89.
“My dad was one of the smartest human beings I’ve met,” Van Peebles says. He had an eclectic childhood traveling throughout Europe until their family settled in San Francisco.
He continued to reflect on his father’s influence.
“My father took me to meet some of the folks in the Black Panthers, and I got to be a PA on the set of his movies. I got this wonderful multicultural, multiracial, global exposure as a kid that really helped me as an artist.”
Van Peebles also discussed how he saw less diversity in Hollywood. He pointed out that from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, black actors were rarely the leading men in dramas, always comedies.
“We were all basically supporting guys,” he explains. “And if we were in a cop movie, you usually played the police commissioner because that way the studio could say, ‘We put the black guy in a position of power, so we’re not racist.’
“But being in an action movie and not getting to shoot your gun or save the girl is kinda like being in a porno and not having sex or being in a musical and not singing.”
When it came to casting the police commissioner in New Jack City, Van Peebles considered having a white actor yell, “Do it by the book, or I’ll have your tail!” However, he chose to cast himself as a black actor in the end.
New Jack City turned 31 years old on March 8th.
Do you think that New Jack City scared people to sobriety?
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