At first glance, everything appears to be harmless: Three fellas sit around a table having small talks and discussing their philosophical viewpoints. They are sharing Chinese food, sipping champagne, and launching balled-up pieces of paper at a trash can like they’re putting up jumpers at Rucker Park.
That’s when the bet begins. With all his pomp and bluster, the loudest yells, “Five thou you can’t make it again”. The third man takes the challenge and slaps home the winning shot. “Double up”, says the blabbermouth once again. In a show of sheer arrogance, the third man flashes his million-dollar grin, balls up a brown paper bag, and throws it at the garbage can.
This time he fails and $10,000 is gone. But here’s the thing: Those men don’t hesitate to blow their cash. They spend fast because, in a blink of an eye, they will get it back. That’s the life of three young drug dealers setting Harlem ablaze, circa 1986, portrayed wonderfully by ‘Paid In Full’ cast.
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How Did ‘Paid In Full’ Become A Cult Classic
‘Paid In Full’ follows the rise and fall of a young man. Being gifted with intelligence, his career might have flown high in Enron, where he could put on a fake energy crisis to rip off California consumers. Unfortunately, Ace is a Harlem resident without an MBA, so he has no other choice but to walk the path of a drug dealer.
The required skill set is pretty much similar to what Enron needs: Deceiving customers, faking the income, shuffling financial records, and bribing influential friends. Knowing that “Paid In Full” is all about business instead of drugs will provide you with a better understanding of the film. After all, when one wants to amass more money than they can legally, violating the law is just an unfortunate side effect.
‘Paid In Full’ Official Trailer
Director Charles Stone III’s movie – which was considered one of the best movies in 2002 by The New York Times – received little attention when it was released, grossing only $3 million against a $7.5 million production budget. However, just like many cult classics, ‘Paid In Full’s recognition has nothing to do with box office success.
There is a reason the movie receives a rating of 7.1 on IMDb and an audience score of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes: It’s a painfully realistic portrayal of the American dream, or rather, how it feels to chase after the American dream when you are a black child hailing from a poor neighborhood. The movie manages to illustrate the enchantment of the drug industry without glamorizing it. You can make million dollars at 20, possess 10 cars without a driving license, and end up in jail the following year. That’s the reality of many Americans.
‘Paid In Full’ Cast: Where Are They Now?
But, other than incisive commentary and memorable moments, the thing that makes Charles Stone III’s a hidden gem of the 2000s is the bravura performances of ‘Paid In Full’ cast. While Harris stays sober throughout the movie and Mitch makes the perfect golden boy, Cam’Ron is an explosive showman who wheelies his motorbike through the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Altogether, the golden trio embodies that double-edged sword of power: It’s both tempting and deadly at the same time, and if you don’t approach it with a cool head, it will get you killed.
Over two decades have passed since then, and if you are curious about what happened to them after ‘Paid In Full’, read on!
In 2002, 33-year-old Wood Harris played Ace – the protagonist and narrator. Getting stuck in a nowhere job, Ace is a restless teenager who envies his drug-dealing friends’ shiny cars, flashy clothes, and luxurious lifestyle. Then he is offered an opportunity that will transform his life forever, and of course, he takes it. Drawn by the seductive lure of easy money in the illicit Harlem underground, he uses his mind to gain power on the streets and becomes the lord of the drug world.
Harris’s career has been going smoothly since he filmed “Paid In Full”. In 2005, the actor portrayed another drug kingpin, Avon Barksdale in HBO’s series “The Wire”, which many consider his breakout performance. He then stepped back and forth in the limelight, with some notable roles in movies such as “Just Another Day” or Marvel’s “Ant-Man”.
From 2018 until now, the actor hasn’t got any impressive role and prefers to keep his personal life discreet, but he’s still a well-known and respected actor on both big and small screens.
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‘Paid In Full’ Cast – Mekhi Phifer
Mekhi Phifer is a pleasant surprise on the screen whenever he shows up. His roles are usually serious and nerdy but have some hilarious sides that they occasionally let out and make audiences laugh. In “Paid In Full”, Mekhi played Mitch – a character based on the legendary drug dealer Rich Porter.
In November 2021, the actor reflects on his experience with “Paid In Full” after the notorious drug dealer Alpo Martinez was killed. Precisely, the actor wrote, “We had an obligation to do these brothers justice! I’m just happy we were able to have the honor of doing so”. He never met Porter but “grew up knowing the legend of these Kats and had to represent the humanity in the choices they made.”
After “Paid In Full”, the Harlem native has been engaging in extensive television work, notably “Lie To Me” (2009 – 2011), “Psych” (2012), and “Chicago P.D” (2018). Phifer was previously married to actress Malinda Williams. The two shared a son together but ultimately divorced after a few years. In 2013, he tied the knot with his long-term girlfriend Reshelet Barnes. Yes, he’s off the market again!
‘Paid In Full’ Cast – Cam’ron
“Paid In Full”’s Rico was Cam’ron’s first acting role. The creators wanted to find someone originally from Harlem, and finally, they found Cam’ron. According to producer Damon Dash, Rico is the most reckless character, willing to go any length to get power and respect. No one is more perfect for this role than Rico because he demands attention in literally every scene.
Cam’ron’s determination is what helped him get the role, and it also helped him rise to fame. With a successful career in hip-hop, he’s now the most well-known cast member. The rapper has worked with Nicki Minaj, Wiz Khalifa, and Jay Z. He even founds his own record label “Dipset West” and has a clothing line called “Dipset USA”, through which he collaborated with fashion designer Mark McNairy in 2014.
Are you interested in the world of hip-hop? You might want to know what happened to Gucci Mane!
‘Paid In Full’ Cast – Kevin Carroll
In the 2002 movie, Kevin Carroll played Calvin, a fictional version of real-life Kevin Clark. His character was later murdered by Rico in a revenge killing.
Carroll certainly has a long and fruitful career because he has landed roles in countless projects, most notably the FX series “Snowfall”. He also appeared in the 2005 gig “The Notorious Bettie Paige” as Jerry Tibs. In recent years, it doesn’t seem as though he is in any project, but given how busy he has been throughout the years, it’s understandable that he might feel the need for a short break.
‘Paid In Full’ Cast – Ron C.Jones
Uncle Ice (played by Ron C.Jones) is perhaps one of the most embarrassing movie uncles. As Mekhi Phifer’s character Mitch rises through the ranks and begins to amass his fortune, he starts to attract naysayers. His own uncle, Ice, is one of them.
Being a dope addict and a complete loser, Ice is obviously envious of his nephew. He even goes so far as to kidnap Mitch’s younger brother (who is also his nephew) to demand a large ransom from him. When he doesn’t get his money, Mitch kills the boy in cold blood. Uncle Ice reminds us that when one’s driven by money, even your family members can turn against you.
Unlike his character, Ron C. Jones is a seasoned, well-respected actor with an impressive portfolio. He has starred in many projects such as “Across The Universe”, “Ashes”, “Titus”, and most notably, “Venom”. As of 2022, the actor has amassed for himself a net worth of $4 million.
The Bottom Line
“A story some can’t imagine, while others know by heart”, that’s what we can say about “Paid In Full”. Whenever someone mentions “N**gas get shot every day”, they are paying tribute to the movie. ‘Paid In Full’ cast has portrayed the reality of black and the low class, and this is why the movie is still relevant today.
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