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Jacob Scipio Talks About Exciting ‘Bad Boys for Life’ Post Credit Scene, His Audition Process With Will Smith & More

After 17 years, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence brought the Bad Boys franchise back to the big screen with Bad Boys for Life. The sequel was directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, written by Chris Bremner, Peter Craig, and Joe Carnahan. Years after the events of Bad Boys II (2003), Miami detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett are still at it, but their jobs and relationship are tested when they investigate a string of murders tied to Lowrey’s past.

With the film now available on digital and home video, I had the chance to talk to breakout star Jacob Scipio, about his role as the films main antagonist.

A portion of the conversation will have heavy spoilers. So, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, please go watch it and then come back!

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In this interview, we discussed what it was like for him to join the franchise, how he figured out he was playing Lowrey’s son, and what he learned from the cast that he will take with him throughout his career. We also talked about his future projects, which include Without Remorse and The Outpost

Check out the interview below:

Can you talk about what it was like joining the iconic franchise?

Scipio: I mean, you said it right there! It is a totally iconic franchise. I was a huge fan of it growing up, you know. I think I was like maybe one—I don’t even know if I was born yet when the first one was out—but my older brother had it on VHS, so I literally watched the first one growing up. [The] second one came out around the time I was a teenager or something.

And, I was ready for the whole Bad Boys experience by that time, you know, and that was like peak. Big action. Lots of comedy. Like that whole ecstasy sequence is probably like the funniest sequence in life. It’s just so funny, every time it’s on the TV I got to stay and just watch it, and then I end up watching the whole thing anyway. 

Will Smith as Mike Lowrey (left) and Jacob Scipio as Armando Aretas (right). Courtesy of Sony.

When you were originally cast, did you know you were going to be playing Mike’s son, or is that something you found out later on? 

Scipio: I had no idea. I actually figured it out pretty much in the audition room. We had super generic scenes. I think I had like a version of the negotiating scene and then I had another scene I can’t remember. So, I had no clue who this guy was, where he’s from, his background, his parentage, like nothing. It was just those two scenes; it was very secretive and under wraps

So, I do my first audition, and it’s all good, and then I got a [callback]. But I’ve got to go home, because I’m in LA and from England. I was only out there for a couple of weeks and didn’t have a lot of money at the time. So, my flight home was on the only day I could go in. I go to the audition with my girlfriend and all our luggage and we’ve got like three or four suitcases down in the waiting room. I do the audition, and it goes super well, for some reason, I was like, “Okay, I need to make my mark.” So, I left the room, but I didn’t leave the building.

I was just kind of looking around thinking what can I do. And this is Jerry Bruckheimer’s office, so you’re looking at the walls and it’s like a billion dollar franchise here, billion dollar franchise over there, all these amazing kind of iconic films this guy made. And then from around the corner, I bump into two of the producers and end up going into their office, chatting it up for like half an hour to 45 minutes. They asked me about weapons training and what type of projects I’ve done. I had just finished a movie called The Outpost, which is based on a true story about the bloodiest battle in Afghanistan. Looking to release on July 4, I hope, anyway.

So, I tell them about my training, and the whole time, they were kind of looking at me just like, “Yeah, maybe he does kind of look a little bit like Will. We should get him in the room with Will.” And the more they’re saying, I’m like, first of all, there’s only one Will. Second of all, why are they comparing me to him?And then I’m like, oh shit. I might be Will’s son in this, but they haven’t told me that. I’m just thinking I’m smart and figuring it all out, anyway, so long story short: I get to go in the room with Will Smith.

I’m not even supposed to be there, I’m supposed to be on my way to the airport by this time, but I’m around because I’m not letting this opportunity pass me by. I go into the room, and there’s the man standing there—you know the man himself—and he gives me a big hug. They put us in front of a camera and [tell us] to each other. Obviously, that could be super awkward, but it wasn’t at all. We just kind of head off right away. We’re just talking, and then I tell him about my grandfather Archie Sexton and how he was on the first televised boxing event in British history. So, I’m telling them all of this all of this, and he goes, “Well, my dad was an electrician,” and everyone in the rooms laughing. Then we look at each other and at the exact same time, we say, “I’ll be here all week.” And then the room goes quiet. Then Will says, “If that ain’t [a sign], I don’t know what is.”

Once you started filming, did they let you know ahead of time about the post-credit scene? How did they present that idea to you?

Scipio: The post-credit scene actually came after we had wrapped principal photography. The producers were talking to me [about] this really cool idea [with] this little Easter Egg scene. So you know, we actually shot that in the reshoots, which was obviously so incredible. It was just such a good setup for the next movie and really gave a magic button to the film because there was just so much fun to be on that roller coaster ride again. I’d love to be involved in the next one.

One of the best moments from the the movie was that intense moment in the third act when y’all are all in that burning building. Can you talk about what it was like filming that and just being around two iconic legends like Will Smith and Martin Lawrence?

Scipio: So, leading up to that, I think we shot all in sequence, so I had like three days of shooting just me and Will’s fight sequence at the end. And it was just incredible man, it was so much fun. He’s just the absolute beast, like an ox. He’s so so strong and so committed. It was just amazing to dance with him. Those days on set, for those intense scenes, everybody kind of hunkered down. It was quiet, and everybody was so helpful—from the makeup team to the sound guys to the set designers—everybody was helping us create this intense vibe on set [that] we needed.

Smith and Scipio during that scene. Courtesy of Sony.

Scipio: There was this one moment I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. It was right at the end, just as I’m about to throw Mike off the balcony and into the towering inferno. I look down and I’m face-to-face with Will Smith, I look over my shoulder and see Martin Lawrence, and then standing behind me is Kate del Castillo. And I’m kind of like in this trifecta of iconography, and man, it was a really special moment for me because you dream about stuff like that, you know. I visualized moments like that of being on set when I was just a jobbing actor and hadn’t had a big break yet. Those are the moments you truly visualize and dream of, so for that to come into actuality, there was no better feeling. Just to be around those type of icons who are so generous and so talented, without being too much of a cornball, it was an honor.

That sounds truly amazing! I couldn’t even imagine something like that. Is there anything that you learned from working with those actors that you will take on with you for the rest of your career?

Scipio: No doubt, man. Every day was a learning experience around those icons.

The thing I guess I learned the most was generosity. Not just generous materialistically, because there was that. Like every other week there’d be gifts left in our trailers from Will or Martin or from the producers. They were [also] generous with their time and advice. So, that was the real gold for me. There was no ego there. That’s what was so amazing because it was an environment that stimulated creativity. This was my first big studio film, and I didn’t really know how it worked, but I was invited to the table with the writers, producers, and Will. They asked me what I thought. [That] is not how it works, you know, on a lot of films. But in this film, it was such a team effort; everybody really came together, and it was really kind of best idea wins, and when the best idea wins, we all win. It was a super amazing collective creative experience.

You mentioned earlier that you had some physical training prior to the role. Did they have a specific plan for the way your character fought and moved?

Scipio: There was the idea of like an MMA fighter versus a boxer. Obviously, that changed a lot as we worked with the stunt choreographers who were just incredible in this, putting their bodies on the line. So, it was constantly changing, but that was the vibe. I always wanted this, and the directors and creators always wanted this. I just wanted Armando to be like this ferocious killing machine when it came down to it. The film explores that this guy has a code doesn’t kill [the] innocent. But when he does kill, he goes hard. That was the thing with the fight sequence, especially with Mike. [Armando] kind of already lost the fight in the second round with Mike because he knew in his head why [his] mom was after this guy so badly.

I know you have a couple other projects coming along the way, and hopefully this COVID-19 situation dies down by then, but can you talk about your upcoming projects or anything that you can tease without getting in trouble?

Scipio: We’ve got Without Remorse coming out at the end of the year, which is a Tom Clancy adaptation. It’s about the beginning of the Rainbow Six Siege and John Kelly, who’s played by Michael B Jordan. It was a ton of fun to shoot that in Berlin. I’m really looking forward to people seeing that. And, I’ve also got The Outpost coming out that I touched on earlier, which is a true story of the bloodiest battle in Afghanistan. I play Justin T. Gallegos, who was a staff sergeant in the American military. That was actually shot before Bad Boys, so it’s been a long time coming. We were supposed to preview at SXSW, but that got cancelled because of COVID-19. Hopefully, it will be in theaters July 4.

I’ve also got Waldo coming out this year, which is a kind of LA-noire crime comedy. Think Chinatown and a Cohen Brothers mash-up [with] True Romance. It was a ton of fun. It has Charlie Hunnam and a bunch of other crazy amazing actors, and I play this guy called Don Q. He’s this kind of East Coast drug dealer, Puerto Rican type guy who’s super neurotic, has OCD, and is also an autodidact. So, that’s a comedy that’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to that.

After all these projects are wrapped and done, do you have any specific focus that you would like tackle next in terms of genre?

Scipio: Honestly, I’m not taking anything off the table. For me, it has to start with character. It has to be an interesting character I want to explore, but that could be in any universe on any planet. I could be wearing cowboy boots and riding the horse or I could be shooting a laser gun, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to work with great filmmakers and make my mark while I’m here man because I love movies

Thank you so much for talking with us and we can’t wait to talk to you again for another project in the future, man!

Scipio: Appreciate it, man. Thank you.

Bad Boys for Life is available on digital and home video.

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