Who would have
thought that when Ice Cube appeared as a member of the original Los
Angeles gangster rappers NWA that he would end up doingsuch a goofy and utterly cute yet pathetic comedy Are We There
Yet? Yet as the hardcore star went from music to film, he's has proven
to be versatile and broad-ranging skills, a grown-up now, and a survivor,
not just another disgruntled ghetto youth.
When you made it big, you showed that people can come from something as
extreme as the gangster roots, and then grow, and that there's apositive afterlife. Do you feel that's something you've
What I wanted to show is that everybody who comes from the gangster life
-- they want what that man in the suburbs wants. Nicefamily. Nice house. Nice cars. Bills paid.
Kids in school. Food on thetable. Nothing
more. Nobody's trying to be Scarface out here. Everybody just wants
to be comfortable. People always wonder, "You
came from all this hard stuff, but now you ain't
pumpin' that as much? That
hardcore image." Because now my family's
comfortable. I have things that I haven't had. Now I'm speaking for
the people who can't speak for themselves. From mypoint of view, yeah, I'm not
"in the hood" no more, doing all that
stuff, but I've got people there. I got family there. Most of
my roots are there. I can't separate myself from that. But as far as
thegangster in the hood, the dude that's in the
penitentiary, the dope dealer goes? All they want is to be
comfortable. Nice house. Family. Nomore, no less. That's really what
this shows. If you give anybody thechance, they can always make a decent human being out of
themselves.It's the people that don't
have a chance, that we look down at like they're monsters or they're
animals or that they want something different than the rest of us.
That they don't want to be like us.
That's not true. They want to be just like everybody else.
Do you ever feel you were in the crosshairs, instead of just the
No, never. It's a small price to pay for
where I've come from and
where I am. It's like, please.
An easy call, right?
Yeah. I've dealt with a lot harder shit than reporters coming down
on me. You know what I mean? That's kind of easy to deal with. I
knowwho I am. I know what I'm about.
When you started out, people felt that NWA were West Coast heirs of
Public Enemy -- doing important rap that was
saying something real topeople. Now a lot
of hip-hop has gotten too much into the blingage, andnot as much into real culture.
What are your thoughts on that?
What happened wasPublic Enemy, BDP, myself, a
little bit Ice-T, we were heirs to when people wanted to hear these
changes. Our plight. Ourhistory. We were learning a lot from the music. And that music
wasreal threatening to the establishment.
So then, here comes Death Row which is
pretty much more gangster than knowledge, you know what I mean? Theestablishment chose to really promote that and pump that. I'm notsaying they didn't make great records because those were some of
the bestrecords made. But they got more
love in some of the areas that we couldn'teven
get into. MTV went open arms with them. But for us, it was a
struggle, because they never really wanted our messages to get outthere on that level. It was just a calculated move bypeople who bring rap to the world --
radio stations, newspapers, magazines, video shows. It was just an
effort to pump that, because it really had no substance to it. And
that's what's taken over and kind of steamrolled to thisbling-era. But people are always hungry for knowledge, so
here come the Rootsand the Kanye Wests of the
world. Here comes the knowledge back again. It's probably
going to take a few years for it to be as widespread as it was, but it's
Do you feel that sometimes you need to get back to music just to keep
your head fresh after you've been doing so much acting?
It's always fun. You know what I mean? I used to push my
career. Try and come out every year with a record. And then
I'm like, "Man, I got seven albums out, and I'm
like 27, 28." So I say,
"Yo, it's time to slow this thing down a little bit, and kind of
spread it out." And the movies picked up.
It's just a thing where I go from one project to
the next, and really don't think about it as much, as far as,
"Damn I'm going back and forth."
Or, "Damn, I need to do a record."
After you've done such heavy music, did you do the comedy to show that
you can laugh at yourself, and not take yourself too seriously?
Not really. I've never really taken myself too serious. That's
everybody else, listening to the music or whatever. I've always saidwhat I've felt, said what I thought was right, but I've always had
acomedic bone. Take Friday.
If you remember, all this bad shit is happening on this neighborhood.
You're dealing with dope smoking, drugdealers,
drive-by shooters, andneighborhood crack-heads,
but it's looked at in a funny tone. It ain't
looked at as a Menace II Society or
Boyz N the Hood. My records have
always done that. For every hardcore record I've had, I've had a
"Nappy Dug Out." Something
that has a little sense of humor to it. This is just a good role at
the right time.Barbershop and
Barbershop 2 kind of set the stage for a movie like this because I had
usually done R-rated comedies. And Barbershop was a PG-13
comedy. And here goes a PG comedy. I'm
testing the boundaries.Also,
I'm doing something for my youngest fans. Out of my whole career,I've never done anything specifically for them. This is the
opportunity to do all of that and to show that the music is separate.
I'm not trying to turn into Eddie Murphy,
and just do kids movies the rest of mycareer.
I'm going to still do a wide variety of movies, as well as dohardcore rap.
Even in your comedies, you have a certain seriousness, a dramatic tone.
Do you shoot for that intentionally?
I just think that's the best way for me to pull it off. I'm
not a comedian, so there are things that I wouldn't even try. But when I
canmake the situation right, and make thingsfunny -- organically in away -- then it just comes off better. For some reason, that's usually the tone of the guys that I'm
playing. I'm usually playing the guy
that's going through all this stuff. All these crazy people are
interacting with a guywho, hopefully, the
audience sees as sane.
What drew you to doing Are We There Yet?
Adam Sandler had this project at first and he couldn't do it. So
Revolution [the production company] asked if my company would acquirethe script, and sort of tailor-made it for me. We looked at and said,yeah, and
made our notes on what changes needed to be made, and juststarted putting it together.
The sports memorabilia that your character Nick sells andcollects, does that reflect your own
I wanted him to be a guy who was into throwback jerseys and sports.
I wanted to use that element to maybe grab some of the olderkids -- the 12, 13, 14 year-olds.
We kind of added that to make it a little
hipper than the average family movie. And
there are single guys in their 20s and30s who
can look at that guy in say, "Yeah, I can relate
Whose idea was using the Satchel Paige bobblehead talking with you?
That was [director] Bryan Levant's. I kind of fought him on that.
I thought it would be too corny.
Having me talking to a bobble-head
[Laughs.]I didn't want to make
something that was so corny that I thought it would take you out of the
movie. But Bryan was like, "When you're
doing a movie like this, you always want to add a touch of magic, to letthe kids know that this is a fantasy, and they can't be jumping intheir parents' SUVs and driving off."
It's a reminder that this is a movie, and not real life.
So we used things like Satchel Paige, so
that when grandparents brought their grandkids in, they could say,
"I know who that guy is."
You've done many different types of characters, the action stuff and
now the kids movie. What's next for Ice Cube?
I want to do more drama. You know what I mean? Comedy is the
path of least resistance for my company right now. People know we
can dothem. People know they get a good
response. People want to make them.
Who am I to push up against that? We'll do that for a minute, and
then one day we'll show what we can do dramatically. There's no
rush. I'monly 35. I'm not trying to
retire at 38 or nothing like that.
What can we expect to see from your character in XXX since
you replace Vin Diesel in the sequel, XXX: State of the Union?
He's more of a disgruntled soldier. He's in a military prison. He feels that the government has given him the shaft.
Samuel L. [Jackson]can't trust the government
any more, so he goes outside the box andgets a
guy like me. Who's got a chip -- some
revenge to get back. So that's the way the guy is. Totally serious.
Not too many laughs and giggles.
Samuel L. Jackson has talked about how he doesn't really like to act
with rappers. How did you handle working with him on XXX?
We both just handled it professionally. I'm there to do a job. He's
there to do a job. That's kind of how we approached it. But we had a
better rapport because Sam -- from what I
understand -- just doesn't really like working
with rappers who aren't into the art of filmmaking. But Sam knows
that I'm a filmmaker. I've put together more films fromscratch than he has. I've hired more actors than he has. He's probably looking at me in a different light. I've
jumpstarted a lot of careers. He didn't
even mention it; he came in and treated me like a fellow actor,
you know what I'm saying? Somebody
that he respects because I respect his work. Who
can't respect Sam as an actor? He's still one of my favorite actors;
I don't care what he has to say about rap. He's still one of my
favorite actors. I just don't agree. I think that if you've
got the chops, you should be given a shot, and then the audience
determines how long you'll stay.
Any plans for a new Friday? The Friday after next Friday?
Last Friday? [Laughs.] It's starting to
rekindle. Every time I say no, it starts to rekindle. Now I'm
getting calls from castmembers, saying,
"When are we going to do another one?"
I always say thatthis is the last one, but then
it starts to rekindle.
Do you have a script?
I never start on a script until I know who's coming back, for sure.
So who's coming back?
All the good characters from the first one to the last one I would want to
get back. I know I'm not going to get Chris [Tucker] back, butI'd love to get everybody else back.
Are there plans for a thirdBarbershop?
No, no plans in the works right now. I think that they're so focused
on the TV stuff, that I don't know if they want
to do a third one.
You've been in three movies with Nia Long [Cube's co-star in Are We
There Yet?]. How has that relationship
worked out so well?
It's just good chemistry. She can play any kind of woman. And
she brings intelligence, not just a pretty face. She's just solid,
man.She's got range. With our movie
Are We There Yet? she's like the emotional foundation to the movie. She always brings her A-game, no matter
how big or small the role.
Who else out there would you like to work with?
I'd love to work with Denzel [Washington]. Or [Robert] DeNiro, or
[Al] Pacino. On something real dramatic, big.
What can you say about The Extractors?
It's in development. It's not really ready to go. But I don't
like to talk about movies that aren't ready to go, because it'll jinx
them, andthey'll never get made.
So who's going to win the Super Bowl?
Unfortunately, it seems like those Patriots are
going to win the Super Bowl again.