Why Colson Baker Ditched Machine Gun Kelly Name for Acting

The ranks of chart-topping singers becoming successful actors are just a small number. Frank Sinatra did it. So do Cher and Barbra Streisand – with all three Oscar winners. Lady Gaga seems to be on her way to join them. But in another corner of Hollywood, far from its glittering awards circuit, another music superstar is making her own splash in her acting career.

Machine Gun Kelly – the lanky, blond rapper turned pop artist – has quietly built a serious acting resume while the rest of us consider him just a rock star other, making headlines and mocking social feeds for his romance with Megan Fox and his red carpet brawl with Conor McGregor.

But forget everything you know, or think you know, about Machine Gun Kelly. Start with your name. Now he wants to be known by his birth name: Colson Baker.

Baker, 31, explained the decision in a phone interview promoting his first major role, in a violent time that the West calls Last Son. “If you are looking at a work of Basquiat and you have feelings about him personally,” he continued, “is that fair to art because how do you feel about him personally? “

He has played small roles or co-starred in movies like 2014 Beyond the Lights and in 2019 Dust, in which he played drummer Mötley Crüe Tommy Lee. He also has a small role in 2021 Midnight at SwitchgrassBruce Willis’ crime drama introduced him to Fox, but he seems to have removed the underrated film, tweet on release date: “If I’m not talking or tweeting about a movie, I’m barely participating because of it [trash-can emoji]. “

But Last Son was a huge step forward in his acting career – a meaty role that required him to play a cold-blooded killer with deep issues of abandonment. Therefore, it’s time to put aside the Machine Gun Kelly moniker and get back to the basics.

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As Baker explains, “There was music and then movies.” In the music scene, he created Kelly – what he describes as a “character” who in the early 2010s rose to prominence on the Cleveland hip-hop scene thanks to his shooting tunes. his fast (that’s what “Machine Gun” refers to) and outlaw swagger.

“I don’t feel like Start in a human,” Baker said in reference to Christopher Nolan’s 2010 film. “It’s like having a character inside a character inside a character inside a character. I want to just be me playing a character in one world and then I play a character in another world.”

His music fans don’t need to worry about their Spotify settings, though: He’ll remain Machine Gun Kelly in all musical endeavors. “That legacy has defined and reinforced itself,” he said. “I love my fans and I don’t want to let them choose.”

Character building has always been a part of Baker’s DNA. The product of a difficult childhood – Baker’s mother left the missionary family when he was very young, he grew up and often clashed with his father – he turned to alter egos and hid behind a shell of hip-hop bravery as a coping mechanism. (As a father himself, Baker shares custody of his own daughter, 12-year-old Casie, whom he had at age 18 and who accompanied him to this year’s American Music Awards, where he won the award. Favorite Rock Artist.)

“I always played characters because I was a nomad in my childhood,” says Baker, who lived in dozens of places around the world before settling in Denver and later Cleveland. “I lost a lot and I found the foundation to be other people, like the people I saw on TV or the people I was listening to. I think they just combine and it becomes a character on the screen.”

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The character Baker plays in Last Son – premieres in theaters today as well as Redbox VOD – not entirely out of the realm of the left. First, when viewers first see Cal, a super-violent outlaw being hunted by his own father (AvatarSam Worthington), he was chopping down an army unit with a hand-cranked Gatling, the world’s first machine gun. Cal is also grappling with complex emotions about his mother (Heather Graham), a prostitute who has given him the only security and affection he has ever known.

“I mean, sure, there’s an obvious one, which is, ‘Oh, he’s got a machine gun and there’s ‘Machine Gun’ in his name,” he explained. “But if you look at that character, he was tortured in his own, unique way. He has an Oedipus complex. He has a current relationship with his mother, which is something that is not in my life.”

However, upon approaching Cal’s wrath, Baker dug himself into the deep well of his own torment. “He is looking for love,” says Last Son director Tim Sutton’s character. “I think he’s chaotic and he’s punk rock and he’s anarchist, but he’s also an abandoned child. And I think that’s what makes Colson so good at this role – he’s had to work through that gap, too. That’s what the character is all about. He’s Billy the Kid, if Billy the Kid is an existentialist. “

The result is a performance that can surprise opponents – nuanced, believable and never less appealing. Baker’s co-stars, all veterans, were impressed with his food. Thomas Jane, who plays the US Marshal tailing Cal in the film, said: “I think he did a great job. “He’s not a trained actor, but he certainly has the instinct for it.”

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More Graham, who shared some Hamlet– beautiful bedroom scene with Baker, “When you start working with someone like that, you think, ‘Wow, do they know what they’re doing?’ And then when I worked with him, I really liked the way he lived raw. He’s just the raw kind of talent, which I think is great. I really had a good time working with him. I felt we connected in the scenes and he was really emotional.”

Acting is just one branch of a rapidly expanding empire for Baker that, like any good provocateur, manages to be entertaining, confusing, and engaging. His latest moves: enter the fashion and beauty space with his gender-neutral nail polish line, UN/DN LAQR, and more recently the takeover of Calvin Klein’s Instagram account (along with Calvin Klein’s). close friend Pete Davidson).

But don’t let the hijinks fool you: He’s dead serious about his acting career. Does Machine Gun Kelly – sorry, Colson Baker – expand beyond tragedies and dramas into other genres, such as comedies or musicals? “I will,” he said. “And I have. 2022 is just a year to see all of that. “

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