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T.I. Reveals Near Firing During ‘ATL’ Filming — His First Big Hollywood Gig — Due to Poor Performance

Hip-hop mogul T.I. recently described how he was almost fired from the 2006 movie “ATL” due to poor performance on the set.

In an episode of the “B High TV” podcast released on Jan. 9, the King of the South shared a tale of his responsibility of being the involuntary leader of a studio production, where his actions carry consequences. The expectations of “ATL” and fellow actors motivated T.I. to take his role seriously.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – DECEMBER 13: T.I. on stage during the 9th Annual HOPE Global Forums at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta on December 13, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Derek White/Getty Images for Operation HOPE, Inc.)

According to T.I., the decision to potentially fire him was a mutual agreement involving the director, Chris Robinson, and the producer, Charlie Mack.

Robinson is known for his work on iconic music videos such as “Fallin'” and “You Don’t Know My Name” by Alicia Keys, “Roc Boys” by Jay-Z, the Grammy-nominated video for “One Mic” by Nas, and “Bonnie & Clyde ’03” by Jay-Z featuring Beyoncé Knowles. 

Robinson, who made his debut as a music video director with the 1991 clip “Doo Doo Brown” by 2 Hyped Brothers & a Dog, brought his expertise to the film. 

Mack, a Philadelphia rapper and close friend of Will Smith, was involved in the decision-making process regarding T.I.’s potential termination.

“I was going to be aight after this, but for everybody else this could make or break, you know, saying the trajectory of their career. So I felt responsible at that point. Yeah. And so you notice and I had I had to straighten up, straighten up, and that’s what made that’s what made me care about the movie,” T.I. told the podcast hosts.

Initially, unconcerned about the prospect of termination and benefiting from substantial compensation from an unspecified source of income, T.I.’s attitude shifted when he realized the pivotal role the success of the film played in launching the careers of other first-time Black actors. 

“I almost got fired from ‘ATL,’ the third day they came to find me. And I didn’t care. I was like ‘good, I aint gotta wake up in the morning,'” T.I. said. “So I just got a $10 million check. And then they pulled over gave me another $5 million check. So now I got all the money and I got to go to work? Naw, I ain’t trying to do that.”

It was not clear where the $15 million came from, as Cheat Sheet reported T.I. received $85,000 for his leading role as Rashad Swann. This is not his first retelling of this story, as he stated in 2019 that “I almost got fired three times…quit two times, I was having the time of my life and getting money hand over fist. They paid me $85,000 to do ATL, and not just the filming part.”

As T.I., whose net worth is estimated to be $50 million, recounted his experiences of being lax on the set of the film, he admitted that his actions had a negative influence on the rest of the cast, who likely perceived his behavior as detrimental to the production — lounging in his luxury car and smoking weed on set, enabled others to follow his bad example.

“I am supposed to be working, now. And I’m pulling up, blow weed out through the sunroof pulling up the seat. And of course, you know, the other actors. They looking at me? I guess they like he could do it. I did. Well, we do it,” T.I. said.

The Turnaround

“My first acting role, and me, being the star of the film, No. 1 on the call sheet, you know, it is leadership, I didn’t understand that. At the time. I was only thinking about myself. So when it came to fire me. I said, ‘OK,’ you know, and Chris Robinson like, ‘Nah, not OK. I’m a first-time movie director as a Black man, you first-time actor as a Black man, you got a whole cast full of first-time actors and people who are looking for the opportunity and people who can use this and that it can help. You can’t just shrug your shoulders and say OK,'” T.I. said.

Besides T.I., “ATL” starred Lauren London, Mykel T. Williamson, Evan Ross as Ant, Greg Andrews, Monica, Brandon Bernard Benton, and Adam Boyer. 

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