1 of the weirdest experiences you can ever have is conducting an true conversation with a character from a video clip game. That is—far more or significantly less—the offer when you’re chatting with Shawn “Solo” Fonteno, aka Franklin from Grand Theft Car V.
To coincide with the launch of the two GTA V on existing gen and Shawn’s memoir, Game Changer, I took some time to shoot the shit with the gentleman himself. This was a full reversal of what I have completed for triple-digit hrs considering that 2013: use him, in-recreation, to shoot shit.
What adopted was a intriguing talk with an OG who was concurrently the nicest (but technically also scariest) San Andrean I’ve ever had the enjoyment of meeting…
Straight off the bat, I’m loving your memoir, Activity Changer. Gripping, inspirational things which is tough to set down. How would you quantify it in your possess words and phrases?
Shawn Fonteno: So the e-book is my story, person. It took me about two-and-a-half several years to total. My everyday living wasn’t usually a quite picture, so producing Recreation Changer was like bringing again previous reminiscences I didn’t want to enable out.
A great deal of people today all around the environment have been by some of the points I’ve published about, if not more. [It’s my hope] that they will get my standpoint and know that you can make it via really significantly nearly anything, if you get enable.
I managed to get some, you know. I received a god-fearing family—my wife, my young children—and which is the very first detail. The upcoming: some of us have acquired way too a lot satisfaction to attain out and talk to for assist, which was my trouble. I was also addicted to agony drugs, hoping to take absent something that was not a actual physical discomfort. It was a agony of going as a result of the instances described in my ebook—the abuse I’d been via as a child.
Getting conquer a few, four moments a 7 days by my action-father taught me to damn near hate, you know. Later in life, it even caused me to contemplate suicide.
Luckily for us, I poured out everything I was dealing with to my spouse who aided me make some improvements. To reset. And I promise you, man, not even five months soon after that, I acquired the simply call to work for Rockstar. They took me from the streets and gave me a second probability at daily life.
Activity Changer also has a ton of exciting GTA info. For case in point, I experienced no strategy your cousin performed CJ in GTA San Andreas, and you had little bit components in there, as well. How did your family’s very first contact with Rockstar Games occur about?
SF: My link to it was by a person named DJ Pooh, a consultant who’s labored with Rockstar for a lot of, lots of several years. He identified as me mainly because I’m an ex-gang member and GTA San Andreas was dependent about pretty considerably what goes on in my town.
They also termed a host of other fellas that were popular ex-gang associates and some that have been continue to gang customers to occur lend our voices [to San Andreas]. As for my cousin Maylay, guy, I didn’t even know he was CJ when we have been executing our stuff. We all had been beneath NDA. He did not inform me nothing, even although we hung out, like, two or 3 instances a 7 days.
Then, when GTA V arrived around, Pooh gave me a connect with and I truly didn’t want to do it at initial. Rockstar is mystery with stuff, gentleman—the name he explained to me was not GTA. He didn’t say it was for Rockstar, possibly. The [gig was for something] referred to as ‘Paradise’. So I was like,”what the hell is that?”
So, in a nutshell you transitioned from a rough upbringing to starring in a 160-million-copies advertising, cultural phenomenon which, now it is out on PS5 and Xbox Collection X spans a few gens of gaming. Did you have any feeling of the enormity of this position when you accepted it?
SF: I did not at 1st, when I was doing work with it. What I was seeking to do was reset my lifetime, so it was just good for me to get out of LA and away from sure persons. And it was a task, you know.
The identify of it for at minimum a year in wasn’t GTA V, but I uncovered it was as a result of Rockstar since we were being operating in their services. When we discovered out, of course I understood how large it was heading to be. That reported, I was established back again in my seat by how large it [actually] went and how extended it went.
It’s remarkable that you went in as a comparatively inexperienced actor, to co-star in a manufacturing with a 3500-web page script. The ordinary aspect movie doesn’t go over and above 114, so that is rather the deep conclude. How did you acclimate to a little something like that?
SF: At Rockstar, the director was serious very good. The team, too—they make you feel welcome. It was a tradition shock to me, man, with all these internet pages of script. But I also had Ned [Luke] and Steven [Ogg] encouraging me, plus the other cast, also. And everyone that was coming on the established, I was asking things—like, how do you bear in mind your lines, guy?
I was the only 1 there that was not an actor. The several matters I experienced carried out, they were roles in which I was just me becoming me. Becoming a thug. Being a knucklehead.
Rockstar’s director was serious restricted on his shit, much too, gentleman. If we experienced a few page lines to operate, you could not mess up. If you forgot the last line, it’d be like: “cut, let’s go again to the prime!” Performing with Rockstar definitely taught me to be a fluent actor and to be a lot more comfortable carrying out it.
There are parallels among oneself and Franklin. Of course the broader stuff, like a younger gentleman lifted on the streets with hopes of additional, but also more personal strokes, like your shared appreciate of bikes. Are these coincidences?
SF: Those people [similarities] ended up shocking. I was sitting back again, like, guy did they do investigate on me or a little something? And likely back again the other way, there have been factors there that I served them with on setlike—showing the [mocap] set builders which aspect you’d set a kickstand for a motorcycle on.
But yeah, they got very close to my life-style. The writers, they was on that, and I’m glad. It felt like I could typically just be me in a video activity. Not conduct way too much out of my factor.
In the recreation, an nearly father-son bond develops involving Franklin and Michael, performed by Ned Luke. Your book opens with an anecdote where by Ned seems to be anything similar—a professional mentor. Is that a fair interpretation?
SF: Very honest. Me and him constructed the connection genuine swift. He started off remaining overprotective of me, mainly because me and him applied to sit off to the facet to run strains.
He genuinely aided. But then he could be a ache occasionally, far too. Simply because he consider he know also a great deal *laughs*. I however had to do Franklin my way, even though. I couldn’t be “Franklin de Santa”, you know?
And then you obtained to reprise your purpose in The Agreement, an growth to GTA V’s ongoing On the web element. What was it like stepping again into the sneakers of Franklin just after these kinds of a very long, 8 yr hiatus?
SF: I was, like, shocked joyful. But I understood I nonetheless had my rough factors, mainly because in that 8 many years I didn’t do any acting. I most likely should have been likely out to castings and accomplishing smaller element movies to sharpen my applications, but I didn’t. It definitely took a day or two to get into the groove all over again.
Is it real that you only identified out you have been heading to work with Dre when you rolled up on the set, very first day? That must have blown your brain.
SF: Oh, male, I could not feel it. Who could? Specially when I identified out I was gonna be playing a manager in [the storyline of the DLC]. I was, like, I really don’t even know how to be a manager, mainly because I’m working with all these bosses. The director retained me on my toes, nevertheless.
Working with Dre, DJ Amazing, Jimmy – I indicate, it was a desire occur legitimate.
Talking of brushes with fame, have you ever believed about accomplishing a little bit of that yourself? Ever log into GTA On-line, bust out a little bit of Franklin and make some gamer’s 12 months?
SF: *Laughs* I’ve tried it, gentleman. But most of the time I just get sniped from significantly absent. Other situations, a lot of men and women just really don’t believe that it’s you—even while my voice is really very well-recognized. I nevertheless participate in GTA On the net some.
Clearly, I just cannot have a dialogue with you and not chat about the phenomenon that is Net memes. It ought to be a strange expertise to see your general performance go viral. To mutate thousands of periods in significantly weirder ways?
SF: Oh, male. I woke up one working day, and it was just insane. Whoever started off all that, I thank you. I owe you, gentleman, simply because it just place me again in the limelight. And when you go viral, you know you possibly did a thing messed up or you did very good. So yeah, it was like having evidence that me and Slink [Johnson, aka Lamar] did something very good. I was really happy.
Solo, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks for your time.
Grand Theft Car V is out now on PS5/Xbox Series X. The most economical bodily copy is at present $53 on Amazon.