Paid in Full’s cult following has helped kept the film thriving, 15 years after its debut.
With today (Oct. 25) marking the movie’s 15th anniversary, it’s quite hard to ignore Mekhi Phifer’s emotional performance as Mitch in the Charles Stone III- directed film. Portraying real-life drug dealer Richard Porter, Phifer’s character takes an troubling turn after his son is kidnapped. While opening up to Ace (Wood Harris), Mitch is vulnerable as his kingdom eventually crumbles around him.
An interview Sway In The Morning would later reveal that Phifer’s pristine acting skills helped him create the touching scene. “I actually wrote that scene, it wasn’t in the movie,” he said in 2014. “When I was researching the character, I [spoke] to Rich Porter’s sister and one his best friends named Jay Black. They told me about little man, what happened, how they [got] the finger and how they went to the McDonalds to trade for the ransom but by that time, the kid was already dead. But in the [script], it was really just me saying to (Harris), ‘Yo A, you got the keys? Okay, one love,’ and that was it.”
Phifer shared how he wanted to show Mitch’s ups as well as the downs of his short life. In reality, it was Porter’s 10-year-old brother who was kidnapped and killed in Dec. 1989. Porter died one month later; his body was found with bullet wounds in the Bronx. The actor added he wanted to include just how much the life in the fast lane effects those around drug kingpins.
“I wrote that scene since it needed a character ark,” he said. “We didn’t want to glorify drug dealing, but show the realness of it and how it hurts people and hurts families. I just felt like in the scene beforehand, he’s telling A, ‘I love the game, I love the hustle,’ So he’s feeling all good and then, boom his little man is gone. It puts him into a tailspin and you see what happens.”
Ugh, where is this man’s Oscar?
Harris, who played Ace (inspired by Azie Faison Jr.), also had several scenes that were improvised. While speaking to the Breakfast Club in February, the veteran actor shared how he ad-libbed the moment where Ace finds out about Mitch’s death.
“Stuff like that is not scripted so you have to find the moment,” he said. “Just find every moment and when you’re in front of the camera and be there moment for moment. You have to be alive for the role. I don’t think I would’ve reacted like that, but I can see him acting like that because there’s no words there. It’s just said [in the script], ‘Ace cries.'”
Check out some more unforgettable scenes from the film below.