Atlanta rapper T.I. stars in heist film 'Takers'

Special Photo: Sony
 Atlanta rapper-turned-actor T.I. plays Ghost in “Takers.” 

Special Photo: Sony Atlanta rapper-turned-actor T.I. plays Ghost in “Takers.” 

T.I. is back in the spotlight — but not for his legal troubles. After spending almost a year in jail for felony weapons charges, the Atlanta rapper-turned-actor is returning to the big screen with his third film.

“Takers,” which opens today, also stars Idris Elba, Paul Walker and Hayden Christensen. The film centers around longtime friends who live an extravagant lifestyle by robbing banks, but only once a year, and have always avoided being caught. But their latest successful heist, worth $2 million, attracts the attention of LAPD detective Jack Welles, played by Oscar nominee Matt Dillon. Welles makes it his mission to try and nab the crew of thieves.

T.I. plays Ghost, the only member of the crew arrested for an earlier heist. Upon his release from jail, he offers his friends one more job worth $12 million, but it has to happen within five days or it will evaporate.

Although T.I. said his character isn’t necessarily a positive role model for his fans, he wants the public to learn to separate art from life and fact from fiction.

“I don’t think I should be held any more accountable for the character I play in ‘Takers’ than Arnold Schwarzenegger should be held for doing ‘Terminator’ or him playing ‘Commando’ or any of these other violent characters that any other actor has played,” T.I. said during a recent teleconference interview. “No one questions Pacino’s values for playing Scarface, so what makes me any different? I’m an actor. I’m really just being used to tell a story and to convey a message — the message of the writer of the script.”

With Ghost’s moral standards in question throughout the film, T.I. said he still admires some things about his troubled character.

“I like his ambition. I like the fact that Ghost refuses to take no for an answer,” he said. “I like that Ghost is looking to top himself in every way. Everything that he has done — he’s looking to do better.”

Along with lending his acting skills to the project, T.I. also has a song featured in the film and on the “Takers” soundtrack.

He said the single “Yeah Ya Know” wasn’t written specifically for the film, but once it was finished in the studio, it seemed to fit best.

“I was just recording records, working on my album (due out Sept. 28) and I went into the studio and played a selection of three or four records,” T.I. said. “‘Yeah Ya Know’ was the song that (the producers and director) felt best embodied the energy and the symmetry of all the action from the film, and they felt that was the one that was best integrated into the film.”

With juggling both music and movies, the 29-year-old said music is still his first love but hopes to win an Oscar some day since he already has Grammy awards.

“I’d rather be a full-time actor at 40 than a full-time rapper at 30,” he said. “Now I would like to win an Oscar by 35 if possible, but I’m not trying to rush the process. I’m passionate about everything I do — whether it’s fashion, whether it’s film, whether it’s endorsement deals, whether it’s music. Whatever it is, whatever they give out to the best in the business, then I want some of those.”