Ice Cube has come a long way from rapping F*** the Police with N.W.A. to playing a detective in Ride Along. It’s not the first officer of the law he's played -- he recently played a cop in 21 Jump Street and will return to the role in 22 Jump Street. Movie Fanatic caught up with Cube to talk about Ride Along and his most unlikely career trajectory that has led him to full-blown Hollywood success. “It’s been an amazing ride,” Cube said.
“I always tell people that if you gave me a pen and a piece of paper when I was a teenager and said, ‘Write out your career and how you want it to go,’ I would have short changed myself compared to what it’s been. I’m extremely excited about what I’ve accomplished.”
Cube also insists he is just getting started. “I’m young and I have a lot more to offer and a lot more to do,” he added. “I’m actually restrained a little bit by the process of Hollywood as far as the creative ideas I have. It is impossible to do them all. That’s a little humbling, but I always feel that I fight through it and make sure that I’m always creative.”
In Ride Along, Cube plays James, the older brother to the woman that Kevin Hart’s character is dating. Hart wants to marry her, but first he has to prove he’s worthy. The high school security guard has just been admitted to the police academy, so what better way than to patrol the Atlanta streets with Cube on a ride along. As teased in the Ride Along trailer, the two leads have impeccable chemistry.
Cube welcomed the chance to star with the man he compares to a certain pitch rabbit. “He’s the Energizer bunny,” Cube said.
“Kevin’s a pro. He’s cool because he’ll make the crew laugh, but also make the camera laugh too and a lot of guys can’t do that. Some comedians I’ve had to pull to the side and say, ‘You’re making the crew crack up… but when we’re shooting, you ain’t got no energy. What the (expletive)?’ He’s not like that. He’s always on and it’s his personality. It’s not an act.”
In fact, the rapper-actor-producer-director sees something in Hart that America is discovering (both his Think Like a Man and his stand-up movie Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain were recent smashes) as he becomes more and more popular.
“I haven’t seen anyone command a scene since Eddie Murphy like Kevin. He holds you hostage until he lets you go. Everybody’s captivated by what he’s doing. It’s an amazing talent. It’s magical to see somebody go there and they’re able to really capture all audiences with it,” Cube said. “Not just the hood audience, but everybody else that exists in the world. Chinese hoods, African hoods, Israeli hoods -- he gets everybody!”
The movie is littered with hilarious moments where Hart looks to Cube for validation. We wondered if the star ever felt like that. “I never had anybody that I had to prove it to. My parents were extra supportive of me getting into hip hop,” Cube said.
“My mom knew it was positive hanging out with Dre instead of hanging out with neighborhood Crips. They were supportive from day one. [Although] my brothers and sisters were still like, ‘What you doing? Who do you think you are, Fat Boys or Run D.M.C.?’ It took a couple of checks to come in and have me roll up in something for me to respect.”
In Ride Along, Hart’s character is a big gamer and believes that because he’s had success in video games fighting the bad guys that he can handle the rough and tumble real streets. Cube appreciates that nod to those players and that those who are engrossed in that world could actually surprise you in reality.
“It’s dope in how the gaming aspect of it helps in real life, which was a cool twist,” Cube said. “Every gamer that’s playing Call of Duty or whatever think if they were in Fallujah, they would really get down. It’s cool to see somebody that is actually trying to apply it.”
The star, who is also a producer on Ride Along, relished how there were some serious moments in the script in order to not have it go off like some crazy comedy. “I think in a great comedy you have to have those moments, sprinkled out… but not too many,” he said. “Those moments help you to ground the comedy. If not, it’s wacky. You don’t want to be Naked Gun. You want to be grounded in reality.”
There’s a fantastic scene early in the film that is shown in the full length Ride Along movie trailer, where Hart pushes his girlfriend in front of him when Cube surprises him. Was there ever a moment where the superstar felt like running from conflict? The answer is yes, and he takes us back to his first days with N.W.A. “When we first were doing our thing, me and Dre, and went and picked up this girl that was singing for us, as I got out of the front seat to the back seat, we saw some youngsters who looked like they were going to school,” Cube said.
“We didn’t pay no attention and then when they got a few houses down, they started shooting at us. I’m yelling at Dre, ‘Drive, drive, drive!’ And he’s looking out the back and I’m like, ‘What the (expletive) you looking at?!’ He’s looking in the rear view mirror to make sure they were shooting at us. I’m like, ‘Drive!’”