You probably know actor Mekhi Phifer best from his work on “8 Mile,” "ER" or “Divergent,” but do you know his favorite X-Man? It’s probably not the one you expect.
During a recent press call to promote his new film “The Suspect” we spoke about his love for Rogue, how he watches Marvel’s “Ultimate Spider-Man” with his son and much more!
Marvel.com: To begin, can you give fans a brief overview of what “The Suspect” is about?
Mekhi Phifer: I’ll describe it really quickly. I think it’s a cross between “The Usual Suspects” and “In the Heat of the Night” with Sidney Poitier. If those two films got married and had a kid, it’d be “The Suspect.” It’s definitely an intriguing film, you’re not on the edge of your seat all the time but you’re sort of wondering what the hell is gonna happen, what’s going on. You really don’t know until the end what’s happening.
Marvel.com: Speaking of that, up to the end, which I won’t spoil, I was having trouble finding a protagonist for the movie. In your opinion, who do you root for throughout the movie?
Mekhi Phifer: That’s the beauty about this particular project. There’s not one person that I think you root for. I think it depends on the audience members and their background on who it is you actually root for. I don’t think it’s a clear cut, black and white, who do you root for kind of thing. It deals with a lot of human nature and the essence of who people are. So it definitely deals with complexities of man, for lack of a better term.
Marvel.com: I loved how, although it’s almost an action-thriller, everything could and does happen in today’s society.
Mekhi Phifer: Right. I think that our guy, Stuart Connelly, our director, he really did a good job not only writing it but portraying in a realistic, unbiased way, the way people innately think. It’s interesting because I do a lot of road trips; I travel a lot on the road. I take RVs cross-country and that kind of stuff. You really get to see how segregated America still is when you stop in these small towns and things like that to get gas or what have you. It was a very interesting and compelling story for me.
Marvel.com: I think another great thing about it too was the subtlety of the police officers.
Mekhi Phifer: Right. But once certain questions were raised, certain things came out. It doesn’t make them bad people; it’s just their experience and how they grew up or what they were taught.
Marvel.com: What do you think about when you hear the name Marvel? Is there anything that comes to mind?
Mekhi Phifer: I love Marvel. You’ve got Spider-Man, this and that, but as a kid I grew up reading all the Marvel comics.
Marvel.com: Oh, really?
Mekhi Phifer: Oh, absolutely. No question about it. We’re talking X-Men and everything else that comes along with it. I just think of really cool comics when I think of Marvel and now good movies.
Marvel.com: Who would you favorite Marvel character be if you had to choose one?
Mekhi Phifer: Rogue from the X-Men. I liked that she could fly and do all this other stuff. I didn’t like that she couldn’t touch anybody. That sucks. I liked the powers of Rogue.
Marvel.com: What got you into comics in the first place when you were a kid?
Mekhi Phifer: It’s the same kind of thing that got me into being an actor; just the suspension of reality. It’s like why you go to the movies or why you go to a concert or something. It’s to be taken out of your normal, everyday life and be taken into another world. Comics always had a great way of doing that.
I’ve always wanted to play some sort of super hero or be in that kind of film. That’s what I loved about doing “Divergent” and things like that but I’ve always wanted to be in those kind of films. I have two sons, a 14 year old and a six year old and to see their dad in those movies would be great.
Marvel.com: What are they into comics-wise? Is it cool to have the kids like some of the same stuff you liked when you were growing up?
Mekhi Phifer: Yeah, my oldest is in high school now so he’s more into other things, socializing with his friends and all that kind of stuff. My youngest, he loves watching [“Ultimate Spider-Man”] on Disney XD and what have you. The way you watch things is different from when I was a kid with the way they watch it today with the iPads and all that kind of stuff. We only had a couple of channels and we would watch either right before 4 PM or on Saturday. That’s the only time we could see cartoons and now cartoons are almost on 24 hours a day, every day. It’s definitely different.
Marvel.com: Like you were saying earlier, you’ve been in such a wide array of things. Can fans check out anything else you’ve got coming up?
Mekhi Phifer: I just had a film released called “A Day Late and a Dollar Short” with Whoopi Goldberg and just a great cast. “Divergent” is still in theaters!
Check out “The Suspect” out now on DVD and Blu-ray. You can also follow Mekhi on Twitter @MekhiPhifer.