Rampage Jackson brings a bad attitude to ‘A-Team’: ‘Acting is kind of gay’

May 29, 2010 | 9:46 p.m.

Chris Lee went on the set of “The A-Team” and found out firsthand that Quinton “Rampage” Jackson lives up to his nickname. This is a longer version of the Calendar cover story that will appear in the Sunday edition of the Times.

Rampage Jackson as BA in A Team

 Talk about a Bad Attitude.

As early December darkness fell on the Vancouver set of Fox’s $100-million movie reboot of “

Rampage Jackson weighs in

Pride of the

Ultimate Fighting Championship and a former light-heavyweight champ (he is scheduled to fight May 29 for the title in Las Vegas) — a guy whose day job consists of beating the toughest men in the world into either submission or unconsciousness — Jackson stood in the middle of his trailer spewing invective with a glint of real menace in his eye.

At issue: a movie crew member had wandered in on this final day of principal photography and — whether jokingly or not — called the muscle-bound movie star a homophobic epithet. Jackson had responded with barely contained fury. He threw the guy out, shouting him down with every conceivable gay slur. “You’re a punk!” Jackson finally bellowed.

He claimed the crew member’s intent had been to provoke a physical assault. “That … wanted me to punch him so he could sue me,” the professional body-slammer explained, using a certain 12-letter curse word that he lets fly often in conversation — a word that has no business appearing in a family newspaper and, for the sake of this article, will from here on out be substituted with “individual.”

But the outburst seemed to also prompt Jackson, 31, to wrestle with other issues: his experiences in Western Canada, his choice to take time out of the octagon (as the UFC’s fighting ring is known) and how his stardom in “The A-Team,” Fox studios’ tent-pole adaptation of the ’80s action-comedy series that’s due in theaters June 11, might affect his fighting career.

“Acting is kind of gay,” Jackson said. “It makes you soft. You got all these people combing your hair and putting a coat over your shoulders when you’re cold. I

don’t want a coat over my shoulders! I’m a tough-ass [individual]!”

A-Team running

“Vancouver strikes me as a San Francisco-kind of place,” he continued. “And I don’t want [individuals] getting ideas about me. I feel in my heart I’m the toughest [individual] on the planet. And I don’t want nothing changing my train of thought. If you don’t believe that when we step inside the octagon, it shows.”

Jackson’s knuckles were adorned with temporary tattoos that he had sported for the duration of the movie’s shoot — 72 days of blocking scenes and performing stunts alongside such bona-fide movie stars as Liam Neeson (as team leader Col. John “Hannibal” Smith) and Bradley Cooper (as smooth-talking lothario Lt. Templeton “Faceman” Peck). “P-I-T-Y” read the letters on Jackson’s right hand, “F-O-O-L” on the left. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the new B.A. Baracus.

Mr T

The story of how Jackson — the most recalcitrant movie star appearing in any blockbuster this summer — came to be cast in “The A-Team” is a creation myth that begins in 1982. That year, “Rocky” star Sylvester Stallone had the good luck to watch a TV game show featuring a toughest bouncer contest and took note of a resplendently Mohawked, Grade-A tough guy. His name: Mr. T.

Stallone cast the granite-faced former bodyguard as Rocky’s trash-talking boxing nemesis Clubber Lang in “Rocky III” — “I pity the fool” being Mr. T’s unforgettable line. And after the film became a box-office smash, NBC built a hit series, “The A-Team,” around Mr. T. A winking extravaganza of cartoonish violence and witty repartee that ran from 1983 to ’87, it followed four Vietnam vets “convicted of a crime they didn’t commit”; they became soldiers of fortune to battle evil on a freelance basis. And portraying the Special Ops Alpha Unit’s snarling enforcer, Sgt. B.A. “Bad Attitude” Baracus, Mr. T became a global phenomenon.

In the process, he captured the imagination of one Quinton Jackson from Memphis, Tenn.

A wrestling prodigy who earned the nickname “Rampage” when he was 8, the young Jackson parlayed his physical talents and devastating punching power into a lucrative career as a mixed martial arts fighter, first becoming a sensation in Japan’s Pride organization and, later, a superstar in the UFC. His signature lights-out move: the body slam, which Fox Sports Net’s “Sport Science” measured as having a “head impact criteria” of 3,500 — a hurt index 3 1/2 times worse than what one would typically suffer in a car crash.

Inevitably, Hollywood beckoned but Jackson’s fight schedule precluded him from appearing in films, save walk-on parts in schlock fare such as 2008’s ” Midnight Meat Train.” “I’ve had the chance to do other movie roles before but I took the fights instead,” he said. “I was supposed to do ‘Transporter 2,’ ‘Wolverine.’ But I couldn’t do it because UFC was in the way.”

That all changed, though, when Jackson caught wind that writer-director John Singleton (“Boyz N the Hood”) was moving an “A-Team” adaptation toward production. “It was the whole reason I wanted to act,” Jackson said. “An entertainment agent saw me fight. He looked me up and said, ‘What type of movies do you want to do?’ ‘I want to do an “A-Team”-type of movie if they ever do one.’ But I wasn’t serious. And then they called me up — I didn’t go looking for them.”

Singleton and Jackson took a meeting about 2 1/2 years ago but the project stalled. Enter writer-director Joe Carnahan (“Narc,” “Smokin’ Aces”) with a revamped “A-Team” screenplay. And on the heels of casting call No. 2, the Ultimate Fighter bested a Who’s Who of pop cultural heavyweights — rappers Common and Ice Cube and celebrated street brawler Kimbo Slice among them — to nab the role. “I was destined to play this part!” Jackson exclaimed.

Liam Neeson and Rampage Jackson walking in A-Team

So how’d Jackson do? “In my opinion, he’s the best B.A. there could be,” Cooper said. “It feels like a real coming out moment for Rampage.”

At a downtown Vancouver conference facility, principal cast members Neeson, Jackson, Cooper and Sharlto Copley — as the team’s bonkers chopper pilot/getaway driver “Howlin’ Mad” Murdoch — stood shoulder to shoulder in full military dress for a court martial scene. The moment Carnahan yelled “Cut,” Jackson began to howl like a wolf in a circular clearing at the center of the room. Then, the Ultimate Fighter began calling out crew members to “get in the ring,” setting the stage for an epic battle royale.

Rampage Jackson delivers a blow

Several of the film’s assistant directors and even a sound department worker stepped up for their beat-downs with Jackson — who can transform from fun-loving imp to glowering berserker with Jekyll and Hyde quickness — doling out playful sleeper holds, Superman punches and half-speed body slams.

Sitting behind the monitor, Carnahan cued Bill Conti’s “Rocky” theme song over the PA and smiled. He praised Jackson as no less than “this generation’s Mr. T” but he took pains to separate the man from the beast persona he cultivates for the octagon.

“You just saw him in the middle of this courtroom wrestling with members of this crew. He is Rampage at his core and, he would be the first to admit this, is like an 8-year-old kid,” Carnahan said. “He doesn’t have an ounce of ill will — he really doesn’t. But he gets painted in this negative way sometimes.”

It was an oblique reference to the legal hot water (and TMZ infamy) Jackson found himself in two years ago after committing a series of hit-and-run collisions in his pick-up truck in Newport Beach. The fighter ran several red lights, drove on the sidewalk and tried to outrun cops. (Last year Jackson pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of reckless driving and one felony count of evading arrest and driving against traffic.)

On set, Jackson found an unlikely kindred spirit in Copley, the courtly South African star of last summer’s sci-fi hit “District 9.” Despite obvious differences in upbringing and temperament, the two bonded over their shared, lifelong love of “The A-Team.”

Liam Neeson and Rampage Jackson in A-Team

“He’s totally different from what I expected — I guess I expected more of a stereotypical thug-fighter with an arrogant attitude,” Copley said. “Obviously there’s this other side where he smashes people’s heads in. It’s quite remarkable!”

Someone less than overjoyed by Jackson’s embrace by moviedom, however, was UFC President Dana White. Last year, when the fighter pulled out of the planned televised mixed martial arts event UFC 107 for “The A-Team,” White ridiculed Jackson’s decision — “You’re a fighter; you’re not a movie star” — and advised him to “Get a … grip.”

Jackson responded by challenging White to a fight. White, meanwhile, lost what he describes as a substantial sum on the canceled UFC bout. But the two smoothed over their differences, allowing Jackson to take part in the much-hyped grudge match this weekend against his bitter rival Rashad Evans.

“We got over it,” White said recently. “Listen, every day I get guys wanting to do all this crackpot stuff, to pull out of fights for movies that are terrible. In hindsight now, did it hurt us? It wasn’t the greatest thing in the world to happen. But having seen the trailer for the movie? He made the right decision. It looks like something he can be proud of and maybe make into a career.”

Liam Neeson, Rampage Jackson and Bradley Cooper in ATeam

Back in his trailer, with his UFC future still in doubt, Jackson left little mystery about the downside of movie stardom. He blamed the film’s assistant directors for keeping him on-set needlessly and railed against what he calls moviemaking’s hierarchy system.

“Here, there’s a thing called ‘pecking order,’ ” Jackson said. “I’m not used to that. People can be really inconsiderate of people’s feelings. I wasted three weekends in a row waiting in my trailer when they didn’t use me at all. To be honest, my experience in this movie industry hasn’t always been good.”

“If you know one thing about me, I say time is the most valuable thing in this universe. I hate wasting time. And these [individuals] wasted a lot of my…time!”

The day’s battle royal, it turns out, had been about settling old scores with the ADs.

“I’ve been wanting to punch them for real for a while. I wanted to whup their [behinds],” he said. “Even though I was playing with them, I was going to do what I wanted to do. I smacked ’em a little bit on the ground.” 

Jackson paused before clarifying his position: “I didn’t want to hurt the [individuals] but there was built-up aggression.”

Blame it on the emotional release of a long shoot finally coming to an end, blame it on fatigue.

Jackson gave voice to second thoughts about choosing “The A-Team” over UFC 107. “Overall, I was glad I experienced the stuff. But sometimes I have mixed feelings. Sometimes I think, ‘Damn, I should have taken that fight,'” he said.

— Chris Lee


A-Team poster

Jessica Biel breaks out the big guns for ‘A-Team’

Sharlto Copley was howling mad for ‘A-Team’ as a kid

 ‘A-Team’ director: Don’t expect a tribute film

Carnahan on remake craze: The era of ‘Taxi Driver’ risks is over

‘A-Team’: I love it when a trailer comes together

VIDEO: Mr. T talks smack to Superman!

‘A-Team’ regroups but it wasn’t easy

‘The Losers’: Don’t call them ‘The B-Team’

Andy Diggle: ‘The Losers’ less political on film 

‘A-Team’: Ice Cube wanted the Mr. T role

Photos, from top: “Rampage” Jackson on the set of “The A-Team” with director Jeo Carnahan in the background. (Credit: Doug Curran / 20th Century Fox); “Rampage” Jackson at the Friday weigh-in for his Las Vegas fight. (Credit: Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images); The new A-Team on the run. (Credit: 20th Century Fox); Mr. T in a 1980s publicity shot (Credit: Los Angeles Times archives); “Rampage” Jackson strikes Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine (Credit: Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images); Liam Neeson and “Rampage” Jackson in “The A-Team” (Credit: 20th Century Fox); Liam Neeson, “Rampage” Jackson and Bradley Cooper in “The A-Team.” (Credit: 20th Century Fox)

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More in: Movies, A-Team, Chris Lee


31 Responses to Rampage Jackson brings a bad attitude to ‘A-Team’: ‘Acting is kind of gay’

  1. dan w. says:

    Mr. Jackson is a jack ass. If he can say acting is gay – something derogatory – and that Vancouver is like San Francisco (it's evident what he means) and the Times can print it in their headlines, The Times can print "jackass."

    • Truth Teller says:

      They let him get away with it because he's black. Black people can say anything and get away with it.

  2. Raymond says:

    "If you know one thing about me, I say time is the most valuable thing in this universe. I hate wasting time. And these [individuals] wasted a lot of my…time!"
    Do not fret Mr. Jackson, I am in total agreement with you.
    I urge [individuals] to not waste their time and money to see your movie.
    I also urge [individuals] not purchase any merchandise based on this movie.
    Instead, go to a museum, read a book, or better yet [individuals,] devote the effort you would have wasted at this time, money, and intellecutually draining attempt at entertainment in quite contemplation about tolerance.

  3. Eric K says:

    ugh…yeah, this idiot is clearly homophobic. Great interview though, his remark "People can be really inconsiderate of people's feelings" made me laugh.
    Dan's right, what a jack ass!

  4. john fleming says:

    Maybe Quinton and Isiah can team up for a homophobic roadshow picutre?

  5. James says:

    This guy seemed ridiculously bad-ass in the previews. Not sure why but I'm actually looking forward to this movie. It didn't seem to take itself seriously but had some fairly interesting characters. At least it can't be any worse than GI JOE: Rise of the Cobra.

  6. rick danzin says:

    Wow. I had no idea this was an anti-gay movie.

  7. anonymous says:

    So this guy rises from an 8 year old street fighter, softcore, and trashes minorites on his way to the top. Sounds like he has been hit one to many times in the head.
    If acting is so gay, soft, why is he acting and trashing acting? Why would you bite the hand that feeds you? And why would a tough, strong, man of principle stoop to doing something "gay" for a buck?

  8. Brett says:

    Well, he'll never win an Oscar, that's for sure. And I'm sure he meant that acting was a happy experience (maybe he's from the school of thought that subscribes to the original meaning of the word, "gay"). As for Vancouver being like San Francisco, perhaps he was noting the similarities between these two cosmopolitan municipalities. :)

  9. MH says:

    Oh yay, more Hollywood-enabled narcissism. Time to turn off the computer and go read a book.

  10. Robert Chandler says:

    I hope this A-Team A-Hole never has to endure "gay" acting again. Let's all help him by avoiding anything he's in. I also hope that filmmakers will turn their backs on this homophobe and let him take his rightful place in obscurity.

  11. Atomic Scrotum says:

    Well, acting has gotten kind of gay lately. Glad to see Mr. Jackson bringing some much needed heterosexuality to the art.

  12. Johan says:

    Jackson is an embarrassment. He acts like a complete animal so his comments don't really surprise me. You can't expect much from a guy who humps hostesses on TV.
    Wanderlei didn't knee this guy hard enough, as evidenced by the fact he's still breathing.

  13. Takeshi says:

    and on top of this, the guy blamed the movie ("ring rust") for losing his fight last Sat & by the way it wasn't for the title.

  14. Bill says:

    "Acting is kinda gay."
    But writhing around on the floor in a gladiator jockstrap while another man mounts you and overpowers you while the public cheers – totally, totally hetero.
    Oy vey.

  15. Steve F says:

    Cleaning up the language of professional fighters. What a novel idea!
    Too bad Code Pink won't get into Rampage's face, though.

  16. Cpm says:

    Sparring around in the octagon with other sweaty, half naked muscle men, who would even remotely detect any whiff of homosexuality? He seems overly sensitive to the suggestion.

  17. Johnny Dilznik says:

    Oh come on folks! He is BLACK. He gets to say anything he wants by virtue of his" BLACKNESS". Just like a latino, a homosexual, asian, muslim etc, etc. The only folks not allowed the same deal is Honkey McGill aka White- Hetero-Males. Its the new thang! White males got to do anything they wanted from A.D.-1 until 1965 so now they must pay.

  18. Ronald Dykeman says:


  19. zane m. says:

    Many of you are being ridiculously sensitive. In fact, I would go so far as to say that your dogmatic PC-ness here is extremely gay. Get over yourselves. Gay is a frequently used pejorative colloquialism; big deal. If you knew Mr. Jackson better you'd realize he was just joking; he is nowhere near as misanthropic as you are.

  20. joe says:

    Rampages entire quote was "Acting is Kind of Gay, Ultimate Dry Humping is FLAMING!"

  21. Tony says:

    If this [individual] is representative of this movie, then this homophobic [individual] will not be seeing a single penny of my [individual-er+ing] budget. The studio is in need of some damage control since this [individual] is the most that I have heard about the movie so far. Excellent PR.

  22. AngieRS says:

    As it happens, mate, you're an arse. If you don't like it then get out of it. Stop be two faced about it and give back any money you've earned so far. No, that won't happen, will it? You'll trouser that quicker than you can say Gay!

  23. Casey says:

    A lot of you people commenting on this article are so ignorant. Stop hating on this man for being who he is. Rampage is a jackass, but not in a negative way. He simply loves to joke around and have fun constantly, and people see that as being a "jerk" or a "bully." This isn't the case, though. People need to go to the Dollar Store and buy a backbone. The writer of this story should be fired as it is simply a judgmental load of crap. How about all of the other stars that behave in such boorish way? People like Christian Bale, Bill O'Reilly, and Jennifer Lopez? Hmm? There is nothing wrong with the way he acts or speaks, and, by looking down and thumbing your nose at Rampage, all of you are just as narrow-minded and awful as you're accusing him of being. Get your heads out of the clouds and realize that you're hypocrites. Have a nice day.

  24. Albert says:

    Wow; all these sensative comments from readers are so GAY!

  25. Fredric G says:

    Sorry Mr. T – Jackson is a disgrace

  26. John says:

    I agree with Casey….quit judging!! You fools obviously like to twist things around like our current government in charge!! At first I didn't like Rampage, but then after seeing his interviews and clips, some that he wasn't even aware he was being recorded in I realized that he really doesn't live up to his poor reputation that the media paints on him!!! Hello people…this man never stops joking and is friend with just about everybody he comes across!! So grow up and quit wishing you were him, you never will be lucky enough to have his qualities!! Oh and now here comes "I never want to be anything like him" comments!! Whatever!!!!!!

  27. Al says:

    Gotta love Rampage…. doesn't matter if it's in movies, fights, or even the WWE Skits…
    WAR RAMPAGE!!!!!!!!!! You'll bounce back from the "loss", you always do!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Looks like the author of this piece is simply out of ideas. An entire article devoted to Jackson saying that is acting is kinda gay?
    That is fairly ridiculous. Seeing as most of you pretentious "individuals" never leave your own little worlds, none of you realize that the word "gay" has a multitude of meanings. I doubt that Rampage is using it as a smack on the face to the homosexual community. As someone mentioned earlier, the word gay has wide, colloquial meaning. It is fairly obvious that he had no meaning to insult the homosexual community.
    The author is making a mountain out of an ant-hill. I would say a good majority of our teenagers use the term gay in the same way as Jackson did in the article. Big whoop. As for those who say Jackson is homophobic and that mixed martial arts is homosexual, I would LOVE to see you say that to his face. I would imagine you would walk on with your tail tucked in.

  29. Timothy says:

    I think I like B. A. Baracus better than Quinton Jackson..

  30. fasket says:

    BAAWWWWWWWWW mr. jackson says acting is gay, I'M SOOOOO offfended
    boycott the movie! that man is a terrrible person, i'm a self-righteous prick!

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