24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: T.I.

T.I.: 'I'm a nice guy by nature'

September 3, 2010 |  9:00 am

Ti We awoke Thursday morning to the news that T.I., the rapper/actor currently starring in heist film “Takers,” had been arrested hours before in West Hollywood on drug possession charges. He and his wife, Tameka “Tiny Cottle,” were pulled over by sheriff’s deputies who say they “smelled marijuana coming from their vehicle during a traffic stop,” according to L.A. Now. After searching the car, the cops found a controlled substance -– “pills resembling Ecstasy” -– and arrested the couple.

As we heard this, we flashed back to our own ride with the Atlanta resident in Los Angeles just weeks before. We had been scheduled to interview T.I. for his new film at the posh hotel he was staying at, the Montage in Beverly Hills. But no sooner had we arrived than T.I. called his team to let them know there’d been a change in plans: He had just left a meeting with producer Brian Grazer, and had now been invited to meet with Brett Ratner at the director’s Benedict Canyon mansion. Would we mind tagging along?

So we jumped in a car with T.I., his publicist, security personnel and driver to head over to Ratner’s house. (It wasn't the pricey Maybach that T.I. was arrested in late Wednesday, but rather a big black SUV. And there certainly wasn't any odor of marijuana or anything else untoward.)

We had asked T.I. how he viewed his role in "Takers" -- he plays Ghost, a thief recently released from prison who's trying to get back in good with his former posse of bank robbers. -- and he said he found it difficult to relate to the character. “I’m a nice guy by nature, you know what I’m sayin’?” he told us. “I’m accommodating. I’m a nurturer. Protector. Provider. You know, so, I mean, I just — certain things, I just can’t see myself doing.”

Wednesday’s arrest is not good news for the Grammy-winning rapper. He has been on probation since December, when he was released from a federal prison in Arkansas after spending about seven months there for charges related to purchasing machine guns and silencers.  The new charges may also prove to be negative for Screen Gems, the studio behind “Takers,” which is entering its second weekend at the box office. In its opening weekend, the film narrowly beat out “The Last Exorcism” for the No. 1 spot, with a $20.5-million tally. Then again, it is keeping the star of the Screen Gem movie in the news.

--Amy Kaufman

Twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: T.I. poses at the Montage Hotel on Aug. 23. Credit: Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times.

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