As the blockbuster thriller, Contraband, starring Mark Wahlberg arrives in theaters this week, TheSource.com chopped it up with actor Lucky Johnson (HBO’s Treme), who plays the role of “Tarik” in the film. We spoke with Lucky about how his character fits into the international smuggling movie, being on set with a star like Mark Wahlberg, his relationship with his famous cousin Tyler Perry and his long relationship with regional hip-hop music in his native New Orleans. Check out the interview below and make sure to go see Contraband in theaters nationwide January 13th.
Tell us about your character, “Tarik.” What’s his involvement in the story?
Mark Wahlberg plays a security guard, “Chris Farraday,” who’s left behind his criminal past but unfortunately has to get back into the game. He calls my character, “Tarik,” because he has to put together a team to do a job or his brother-in-law will be killed. So we get on a ship to Panama to retrieve something and bring it back to the States.
In the preview of the film it looks like you’re dressed as a cook. Is your character a chef?
Yeah, I’m moonlighting as a chef but I don’t really know how to cook. I’m too busy smuggling, I can’t cook!
So does the role of “Tarik” entail you bringing some comedic relief to the film?
I’m more like an edgy bad boy, but I break the monotony cause I got this thuggish vibe. At the same time, I still come on with some comedy cause they try to drag on me about my cooking. But I drag on they ass right back and give them a taste of they own medicine.
Contraband has the makings of a blockbuster. Would you say that this is your break out role?
Absolutely. I’ve done a few films but they went straight to video. It’s outstanding, everybody treated me like family. Mark [Wahlberg] is a great guy and he took me under his wing [both] on the set and off the set. He shootin’ another movie in New Orleans right now and I hung out with him on set.
Your cousin Tyler Perry is also another major figure in Hollywood who’s influenced you. What kind of relationship do you have with him?
We grew up together and he was one of my babysitters so I had to look up to him in that aspect or he’d whoop my ass [laughs]. I’m so intrigued by what he’s done with his life as far a as movie producer, director and writer. He became a great man on and off screen. I went to school because of him. He was like ‘Lucky, go to school for acting,” so I did that. He gave me advice about stage plays and I did that. I’ve never been in any of his movies or plays, but that’s just because I never asked. The type of person I am, I try and establish everything myself. I haven’t gotten to the point of being in one of his projects also, because I been rollin’ so well on my own. But yeah, he’s my cousin and I love him. For me, that’s my role model.
What were some of your favorite movies of 2011?
Sherlock Holmes just came out and it was awesome. Tyler Perry, all of his movies [laughs], he’s killing ‘em. X-Men: First Class, Red Riding Hood, a friend of mine was in that. There were soo many movies in I saw in 2011.
What’s your relationship with hip-hop?
Well I’ll go down in history as a pioneer of Bounce music out of New Orleans. I have an independent record label, Big Face Music, and I’ve put out a lot of music in my region that we call “Bounce” music. It’s been in existence for 20 years and is becoming a phenomenon throughout the world. So my relationship to hip-hop goes all the way back to the 80’s when I was a boy and I was breakdancing and writing graffiti on the basketball court. Hip-Hop is embedded in my soul. That’s also my swagger in these movies. That’s what they lookin’ for, a different type of swag. It brings flavor to the film.
Who are some of the people you’re listening to these days?
Lil Wayne, cause he’s the homeboy from New Orleans. B.o.B., Wale, Common is killin’ it too. Also Kanye [West], Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Drake. Mystikal, I’m happy for him, he just got signed with Young Money. On the R&B tip, Rihanna and Mary J. Blige are killin’ it and the Mindless Behavior cats too.
What are some of the upcoming projects people can look for you in?
Arachnoquake. Also The Philly Kid should come out right after Contraband, I want to say around March.
Any final thoughts?
Visit my website, LuckyJohnson.com. Also, I have an autobiography coming out real soon and another stage play coming out in February which is named after to the book, The Definition of Bounce. I’m very appreciative of my fans and supporters and I thank God. I been grinding for some years now but I’m here, I’ve arrived, and I’m not gon’ look back. And you gotta go see Contraband.