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January 2004
Barbershop 2 : An Interview with Ice Cube

Barbershop 2: An Interview with Ice Cube

If there was ever a money-making actor-producer who comes out with at least 2 films a year, it's Ice Cube. This brother can do no wrong. Just when "thespians" are ready to dis rappers for being in their game, Ice Cube only hits back with more films and more work for actors who wouldn't get a chance elsewhere. From "Friday", to "All About The Benjamins", and now the "Barbershop" films, Ice Cube is always telling a story that folks can relate to. Every now and then, he will do some film that's all about the money and exposure like "Anaconda", "John Carpenter's Ghost of Mars" and more recently "Torque", but that's only to bring in some cash for his projects. The first Barbershop did very well at the box office that a sequel was inevitable. Ice Cube recently talked to blackfilm.com about his reasons for Barbershop 2: Back in Business.

WM: What's changed since we last saw Calvin?

IC: I think he's a little bit more focused, and he's not so all over the place. In the first one he's looking to get rich quick, he didn't really care about the shop as much until he found out how much it meant to the community. Once you have your first baby you get real focused, what ever you're doing you want it to work. I think he is at the point where he wants the shop to work, and even maybe pass it down to his son. But I think he really wants to make it work, he's settled in and in there for the long haul.

WM: What was the most important you needed for the sequel to happen?

IC: Well you know it was three things, I wanted everybody back. The whole cast, I didn't want to loose anybody. I wanted a good script, a movie that can stand on its own. If you didn't see the first one, you wouldn't be lost if started watching the second one. And I wanted a good director, no first timers. We got all those in place and I was in from then.

WM: I'm glad MGM gave you the green light for the sequel without breathing down your neck for any potential controversy that may occur.

IC: I agree man, I'm glad that MGM didn't back up, usually a film company will get nervous, leaders come out and start speaking bad, and they start back pedaling. MGM was like; we didn't do anything to the filmmakers to manipulate them into making this kind of film, so we are going to stick with it. And they were getting accused of pulling the arms and making us do some of the scenes that we did in the movie and that just wasn't true. We just wanted to be true to what a Barbershop is.

WM: I guess you weren't looking for any headaches?

IC: Nope, we didn't even think about it cause I felt like we didn't think about during the first one, so why should we think about it during the second one. We should take the topics of the day and throw them on the table and have everybody shoot their opinion at them, like what happens at a real Barbershop. Because if you try to manufacture controversy most of the time it won't happen anyway, it's kind of an organic thing. We just wanted to be true to the Barbershop and to nobody else.

WM: You went from being a hot-head in "Torque" to being very resigned in this film? Which of these roles was the most challenging?

IC: I think once you know your place in the movie, or what's expected of you, I think it's much easier. Once I sit down with the director and see what kind of guy he's looking and I add on what kind of guy I think he is, once we come up with that, it's no problem getting out of the way personally and just play the guy the way he's supposed to be played.

WM: What was it like working with Queen Latifah?

IC: Very cool, I've known her since like 92, so you know, we've kind of been watching each other grow in music and watching each other grow in film. And having a chance to work with each other on project like this, it's like she was the icing on the cake.

WM: There's been some talk that Barbershop may be brought to the small screen as a series and if so, will you be part of it and will you make a guest appearance on the show to help out with the ratings? Will Smith recently did that with the show he's involved with.

IC: Nah, I wont be running it. I'll probably be an executive producer on it, but it's not going to be my show. And No, I don't want to do Television. I don't know. I haven't even talked to anybody about that. That is kind of MGM's wish full thinking about spinning this into a TV show, that's their dream. I just want to do good movies right now.

WM: You been compared by some as the Jimmy Stewart of the new millennium.

IC: I think Tom Hanks is the Jimmy Stewart.

WM: Do you see yourself as the everyman?

IC: I definitely identify with that. I identify with a guy like Calvin just trying to do the right thing and take care of his family and just trying to run a respectful business. I run a tight ship that's pretty loose. I crack the whip when it's called for and I let them play they are trying to do their thing. I identify with him a lot.

WM: Do you think back to when you entered the business and silenced a lot of critics?

IC: "Boyz N The Hood" was my first movie. That was my first attempt at acting. I thank John Singleton. He's the reason why I'm here as far as being on this side of the fence. He worked with me. He believed in me. He never bowed down to the studios who probably wanted a more experienced dude. I've taken that attitude on as a producer. I'm always looking to give a talented guy a shot.

WM: How do you balance your home life from your business and acting?

IC: I make them a part of it. My family is with me during junket interviews and I make them a part of it as much as I can and include them into my events as opposed to flying home and telling them what I did. I took my sons to the Up In Smoke tour. It was just me and them. They hung out and had a ball. My kids are 12 and 17.

WM: What are your top three favorite albums of all-time and what films influenced you?

IC: I would have to say the "Superfly" soundtrack, the Flashlight album with George Clinton, and then RUN-DMC's first album because all three of these albums influenced me a whole lot into molding the kind of rapper I became. With Curtis Mayfield's Superfly album, it was the first time I felt the pulse of black ghetto America. It felt like the community I was living in. It was theme music to my life in the 70s sort of speak. And then you take George Clinton, not only by that album, but just by his whole concept, the funkadelik, is still ahead of our time. To this day, I feel those records because they were the first records I listened to that weren't all about love. I was influenced a lot by "The Godfather" and even movies like "Uptown Saturday Night", "Let's Do It Again", and "The Mac". I felt those film were speaking to me and what my neighborhood was all about.

WM: How will this film rank up there?

IC: "Boyz N The Hood", "Friday", and "Barbershop" are what we call ghetto classics. If you are black and acting in Hollywood, the first thing you should try to do is get a couple of ghetto classics under your bet, because they will keep you working after Hollywood has turned its back. There's going to be some young filmmaker is who was influenced these films and say, "Cube, I know that you are 65 and getting old and no one wants to put you in movies, but I remember when you was the shit in "Boyz N The Hood". Pam Grier is an example and so is Ron O'Neal, rest in peace. Because of what he did in the 70s, people to this day were seeking him to do things. As a black actor, you need some of these films under your belt to feel any security while you are out here in Hollywood.

WM: What's next for you and is it easier to get your projects off the ground?

IC: Right now I'm just trying to get on that A list. It's a little easier, I don't think you really get on that A list until you prove yourself internationally. That's really like the next hurdle...have projects such as the TORQUE'S and the xXx's. Things that would do good internationally. I mean there was a fight to keep me on the TORQUE poster in Europe. So its a lot of bearers to knock down out there.



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