March 11, 2014 at 10:56 AM ET
Being an actor is pretty impressive to pretty much everyone outside of Hollywood. But until Mekhi Phifer — whose awesome level is so high Eminem name checks him in "Lose Yourself" — took a role in the upcoming "Divergent" film series, his 14-year-old son was pretty low-key about having a dad for a movie star.
Then, it all changed. Phifer said he hadn't heard of the young adult novels that provide the basis for the movie when he read the script, but his son had. "(He) was really excited," said the actor on a visit to TODAY Tuesday. "It was the first thing he's ever been excited about in my career ever! ... Now I'm cool, finally."
"Divergent" pre-ticket sales are outpacing even the "Twilight" series," noted Natalie Morales, and Phifer agreed that the buzz was strong. "(Author) Veronica Roth did such a wonderful job putting these books together, and the adaptations that they did for the screenplay are just wonderful," he said. "I've been going on a multi-city tour for this film, and so many people are saying that they like it even more than the books."
And about that "Lose Yourself" Eminem lyric? Phifer seemed pretty impressed by the tribute from his "8 Mile" co-star. "To this day, I walk in bars and they start playing that song," he grinned.
"There are worse things," said Willie Geist.
"Divergent" opens in theaters on March 21.