Meet Machine Gun Kelly, ‘The Dirt”s Tommy Lee
Machine Gun Kelly spent the past decade as a rising rapper who's also branched out into acting.
Taking his stage name from the famous Prohibition-era gangster, the Cleveland rapper first started to make a name for himself with his 2006 mixtape Stamp of Approval. Several more mixtapes followed that attracted the attention of Sean "Diddy" Combs, who signed him to his Bad Boy label.
MGK's full-length debut, Lace Up, arrived in 2012 and went gold. He's since put out two more albums.
In 2014, he made his big-screen debut with a supporting role as a rapper in Beyond the Lights, a low-budget independent film. He was also part of the cast of Roadies, Cameron Crowe's 2016 Showtime series, as well as Netflix's hit Bird Box.
Watch Machine Gun Kelly in 'Roadies' Trailer
The rapper also struck up an online beef with Eminem. In September 2018, they traded diss tracks, with Kelly's "Rap Devil" serving as an answer to a verse on Em's "Not Alike." The veteran then followed up with "Killshot."
Earlier this month, Eminem refused to perform "Killshot" during a concert in Australia, telling the crowd, “I would but I can’t give that cocksucker any more light.” Kelly fired back by tweeting, "Ay @Eminem u made the right decision not dropping that weak-ass song in concert and putting everyone to sleep. 😂👎🏽🚮😈 #RapDevil."
In order to land the role of Lee, Kelly had to audition six times over a two-and-a-half-year period. He was already been familiar with the book upon which The Dirt is based, having read it when he was 13. "It was my Bible," he said. "I had the wrong idols growing up, for sure."
But trying to inhabit the drummer proved an entirely different challenge. "It wasn’t until we were on set and doing these scenes that we were like, 'Whoa, this is dark. What are people going to think about this?'” he said. "But there’s something about the truth in that book -- the fact that you do fall in love with these people [who] then do this giant nose-dive into this dark place."
Machine Gun Kelly eventually came to understand what's made Lee such a compelling figure throughout his career. "Tommy is like the puppy dog of the group," he said. "He makes mistakes, but you kind of love him more when he’s making mistakes."