50 Cent was thinking about changing his name to 30 Cent after he lost 54 pounds for his role in Things Fall Apart. That’s a joke, of course. The rapper, aka Curtis Jackson, was dead serious playing Deon Barnes, a real-life Michigan football player with cancer. “It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever committed to,’’ says Jackson, 35.
“Most people have trouble losing five pounds so you can imagine.’’ One of the biggest problems with his physical transformation beside the obvious (weakness, discomfort) was all the temptation. “You’re not really conscious of the commercials that make you hungry until you’re not actually eating,’’ says the Queens, N.Y., native.
“You look at that big burger up on the screen with the sizzling bacon, and you’re starving. It’s like, ‘Oh God! Back to the gym and cardio!’’’ Though other actors have undergone grueling diets for roles — Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, Castaway), Christian Bale (The Fighter, The Machinist) — Jackson wasn’t backed financially by a studio for this indie that he wrote, produced and financed. “I’m just not at the stage of my career where someone will provide the finances to stop the picture and restart it once the weight was gone,’’ says Jackson, who has appeared in such films as Righteous Kill with Robert De Niro and Get Rich or Die Tryin’. This meant the pounds had to come off quickly. He started with a cayenne pepper diet (“too crazy’’) then went totally liquid. Electrolytes and supplements kept him going. 50’s first big meal after shooting wrapped was at a steakhouse in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“My eyes were bigger than my stomach,’’ he explains.