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The Fretts on Film Interview: Ice Cube (The Outtakes)

January 12, 2014

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I interviewed Ice Cube for today’s New York Daily News, and he gave me so many great quotes, I just had to post the outtakes here. So here’s the Ride Along star on teaming with Kevin Hart, dissing the Rock and explaining why the Weinstein brothers are “pretty wack” for holding up his Welcome Back, Kotter movie.

How did you first find the script for Ride Along?

The script was over at New Line for a while. We had talked about the movie and we just didn’t know who could we get to costar and have a different take, different flavor. We didn’t really lock in on anybody. It went off the radar for a minute and [director] Tim [Story] got a hold of it, and he’s so close to Kevin Hart [from Think Like a Man] that it was like, “Yo, do you want to play this with Kevin?” And I was like, “Yeah, that’s a no-brainer.” It started rolling once we put together this dream team.

Did you know Kevin prior to setting this up?

We had crossed paths a couple of times. He used to play in the NBA entertainment league out here in LA and he found me a couple of times and said that we should work together. You know, a lot of people say that and sometimes it comes to pass but sometimes it don’t. If the project is right, then it works. Thank God we found something that was right for both of us.

How is this dynamic different than other comedy teams you’ve been a part of, like you and Chris Tucker?

Some of the guys I’ve worked with in the past, I’ve met them when they were really first starting out. My movie was their first or second movie they’d ever done and there was a lot of teaching and making sure that you’re taking care of your costar and you’re setting him up to win. But dealing with Kevin, you’re dealing with a pro. You’re dealing with somebody who gets it, somebody who’s done movies. I didn’t have to worry about that part. I didn’t really have to act but still make sure the costar is holding up their end of the bargain. I could relax and just do my job.

Were you inspired by any other buddy cop movies?

Oh yeah, man, you gotta pay homage to 48 HRS. and Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys—those were some of the best ones done in modern history. We wanted to do our own version, without borrowing or biting from those classic buddy comedies. We just wanted to carve out our niche and figure out how could we be different and not feel like, “Here we go again.” So open book, audience excited, waiting for the next scene.

Is it true your role was originally meant for The Rock?

I hadn’t heard that. He’s great but the movie’s ten times better with me in it. What he brings to the table and what I bring to the table is slightly different. He’s more action hero.

Have you ever thought about using your real name, O’Shea Jackson, as an actor, the way he uses Dwayne Johnson?

Nah, never. That’s mine. Ice Cube is for the public.

You share a scene with SNL‘s Jay Pharoah. Have you seen his impression of you?

Yeah. He’s extremely talented, funny guy who’s probably going to be one of the next comedians to come up in the movie game. It was cool to do a scene with him. Hopefully with that scene we’ll start seeing him on the screen more.

You’re so famous for your scowl. Do you ever crack up during takes with him or Kevin Hart?

I crack up during rehearsals, but by the time we shoot, I pretty much keep it together. That’s my job, to let them go crazy, because if I laugh, the scene could be messed up and you don’t want to mess with no movie magic.

Do you think of yourself more as an actor, a musician, an entertainer or an entrepreneur?

An artist. Just like any other artist that loves to create. I create on a different canvas than with a paint brush.

Are you working on another album?

Everythang’s Corrupt, my new album. It’ll be out May 13. I’m excited about it. You’ll start hearing music after Ride Along dies down. I’ll start releasing music and ramping up to May 13.

You’ve amassed quite a body of work as an actor. What films are you most proud of?

It’s gotta be Boyz n the Hood. You’ve gotta throw Friday in there. Three Kings is a great movie. And I’m proud of XXX: State of the Union. It was my first time venturing into that much action, and that was cool.

Any regrets?

I’m still not a fan of Ghosts of Mars. We could’ve used better effects in that movie. That’s pretty much the one that sticks out.

Have we seen the last Friday yet?

I think it’s a possibility that we’ll see more. We’re trying to work out some things with New Line. They’ve had some changes in the regime over there. Hopefully we’ll get a little more reception from the studio. They’ve been willing to make the movie but they haven’t been willing to spend what it takes to make the movie great. It’s just going in there and fighting the hard fight, but the fans want to see this movie. More than any other movie I’ve done or I’m about to do, I get asked about Friday every single day. So hopefully they’ll hear us.

Videogames play a major role in Ride Along. Are you a big videogamer?

Not as big as I used to be. Those games come out so fast and I’m so busy that I can’t keep my skill level up on them fast enough to be competitive. I need to spend a year videogaming out. Just take a year and get it right.

What’s the status of the Welcome Back, Kotter movie you’re attached to?

it’s a movie that got tanked by the Weinstein Co. We were going to do a real cool urban version of what Welcome Back, Kotter was. A teacher with some rowdy kids teaching them about life. We wanted to have real sweathogs, kids in school that teachers are scared of and they can’t get to and through comedy and reality we were gonna show that these kids aren’t just animals, they have a sense of humor, talent, dreams—this, that and the other.

Are the Weinsteins holding up the rights?

I don’t know what they’re doing. They’re pretty wack.

Does comedy or drama come easier to you?

Comedy. That’s my wheelhouse. It’s because I’ve had experience doing more of those than any other kind of movie. In the future, I’d love for [my company] Cubevision to do more dramas. Action, I can take that or leave it. Comedy and drama is our forte.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

Most of my kids are grown, so I don’t have to worry about school and all that. It’s really proper planning. I try to finish my day by 6 or 6:30 and try to keep those hours normal. It’s worked out for me. Of course it sucks when I have to go out of town, but for the most part, I try to be a visible presence in my household. You can never get it perfect, but I’ve tried my best to keep the balance.

A sequel to Ride Along is already in development. Do you think this will become a franchise?

It’s exciting. Hopefully we do the numbers and it becomes reality.

That’s everything I need. Thanks for taking the time to do this—especially while the NFL playoffs are on!

No problem. Take it easy, my man.   

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