Anthony Mackie recalls his failed Spike Lee TV movie that was meant to be like “The Wire”: 'The wheels fell off'

"The movie came out and it was just… silence."

Anthony Mackie has shed some light on what it’s like to be the lead of "the only two Spike [Lee] movies that nobody saw."

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier actor reflected on his experience headlining the influential director’s 2004 films, Sucker Free City and She Hate Me, only for both of them to receive lukewarm responses.

"My first movie I did with Spike, Variety said, 'This is Spike's best work,'" Mackie recalled in a new Variety interview with Abbott Elementary star Tyler James Williams.  

“What movie is this?” Williams interjected, to which Mackie replied, "Exactly."

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Corey Nickols/Getty Images Anthony Mackie
Corey Nickols/Getty Images Anthony Mackie

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The project, Mackie said, was Sucker Free City, a made-for-TV film that was supposed to serve as the pilot for a larger series that Showtime later declined to pick up. The drama followed three men — played by Mackie, Ben Crowley, and Ken Leung — who are each part of different San Francisco crime circles, depicting how their lives intersect.  

“It was supposed to be Showtime’s answer to The Wire,” Mackie said. “We shot it and crushed it. It was supposed to be a series, but the pilot was a straight-up movie.”

Then, things took a sharp turn. “The head of Showtime left, they brought in another dude, him and Spike didn’t quite see quite eye to eye, then all of a sudden all the wheels fell off,” Mackie said, adding that the entertainment business is “so humbling because you can put in work and one decision can — Spike Lee, by the way — can derail your entire career.”

The reception to Sucker Free City wasn’t any better. “The movie came out and it was just… silence," he recalled. "Because Showtime put it out on Showtime without any commercials, without anything. They were like, ‘We just need to float this out there.’ And it was weird.”

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Still, Mackie noted, his involvement in the movie did land him a role in Lee’s follow-up film She Hate Me after Jeffrey Wright turned the part down. "At the end of the day, [Lee] goes, 'What are you doing after this?'… 'Nothing! I go job to job!'" Mackie joked. “A week later, my agent called me and he's like, 'I guess things are going well with Spike — he offered you another movie.'"

The 2004 film, which told the story of a man who impregnates lesbian couples for money, grossed only $1.5 million back from its $9 million budget and sparked heavy criticism for its controversial storyline.

Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman gave the movie an F grade, calling it “one of those destined-to-be-legendary disasters in which the awful scenes don’t just pile up."

"With its walking-sperm-bank antihero, its stony fashionista lesbians (who, naturally, all dig having sex with Jack), and its turgid lessons in the pornography of economics, She Hate Me manages to be at once racist, homophobic, utterly fake, and unbearably tedious," he wrote. "This time, it's Spike Lee who's doing the bamboozling."

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.