March 2002

Interviewed by Wilson Morales


Ice Cube is one of the most profitable actor/directors out there. Most of the films he makes are funny, enjoyable and cheap compared to the average produced film. The thing that makes his films work is the chemistry he has with his co-workers. One of them, Mike Epps, is back again in his latest film “All About The Benjamins.” Since their initial pairing in “Next Friday,” they have strengthened their friendship, which is the key to the film’s success. In an interview with, Ice Cube shares his thoughts on working on the film, and his friendship with Mike Epps.

WM: How did the concept for the film come about?

IC: Well, actually Mike Epps acquired the script. He got the script from a guy named Ron Lane and brought it over to us at Cubevision and we took a look at it and figured that with a few changes, this would be a cool movie to make. I wanted to do something different with Mike other than “Next Friday”.

WM: What did you like about the script?

IC: Just the fact that it was different. It was about two adversaries getting caught up in this diamond heist and then becoming partners. This movie explored how they became partners instead of just having this automatic button comedy. It was a few that pulled me into it and then we added the location. We decided to shoot it in Miami and changed a few things and tweaked it into the movie you see.

WM: Did the chemistry come right away?

IC: We had chemistry since about the third day of shooting “Next Friday”. I try to create an atmosphere of no pressure on my sets and make sure nothing is done in an uptight manner. I try to use new actors, directors on my films. I think that if you make everyone comfortable, you get the best work.

WM: With the exception of Nia Long, most of the females in your films are newcomers. Is that what you look for in casting?

IC: I like new talent. I like people you haven’t seen before because I think their performance come off more believable. There are some talented people out there who need a shot. I’m not the savior for all starving artists but if you’re good and everything works out, and then I will give you a shot no matter what name you have.

WM: Did you want to create a loose film considering you had work with Mike before?

IC: We do a mixture of both. We make sure we have a tight script. If no one thought of another joke, then the script is good enough to make. But also, there’s room for all parts of the dialogue for Mike to go ad lib and stay within the script. He ‘s good at that. When you have someone who can work like that, you have to give him room to breathe. I write knowing that he will add a few things to this line or that line. The final product is 60% script and 40% ad lib.

WM: How much percentage is the music?

IC: I tried not to go that route because that likes the tail wag and the dog in a way, from my point of view. I try to make a good movie and then add good music to that good movie and not try to make a movie because of the soundtrack. The music serves as icing on a cake.

WM: How many songs do you have on the soundtrack?

IC: Not one. I didn’t write any songs. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want this film to be locked into with my music. I want this film to be a film with other people’s music in it. I pushed back on this one the movie was so good that I didn’t feel the need to add a song to boost it.

WM: The film is being billed as an urban comedy. Do you think it can cross over?

IC: I believe so. Nowadays the lines are blurred. This isn’t the 80’s when you had a black movie and you had to look at it from a certain way or movie companies looking for that “target audience” all this crap. I think we have a good movie no matter what color you are, no matter what age you are. We have a hell of a movie, it’s fun, come check it out. I believe it has the potential to definitely cross over.

WM: Did you try to keep the budget down as opposed to raise up like in most films?

IC: The movie cost $14 million to make and we tried to get our entire bang for the buck. That was our key, to make sure that we’re doing a $14 million action film. The thing is to make it look bigger than that.

WM: Has directing changed your view as a performer?

IC: Oh yes. I directed the “Player’s Club” in ’96. Directing that, and getting into the edit room helps me when I do another movie. It gives me a good insight to help my performance.

WM: Which do prefer, drama or comedy?

IC: I love them both. My three favorite types of films are drama, action, and comedy. Those are the three fields that I will usually be working in. I would love to do more drama because I’ve done three comedies in a row. But I’m not pushing it; it’s all about the projects as they come along and how good they are and the timing of it. Whatever it’s right for at the time, I’ll go for it.

WM: Will you work with Mike again?

IC: No doubt. We’ve got “Friday After Next” coming out this Christmas. We filmed it last year. It’s funny. I think it’s funnier than “All About the Benjamins”

WM: What does take to be a straight man, because there go to be more to it than not smiling?

IC: I think it’s allowing a comedian like Mike to have free range without any type of competition, without being jealous of the laughter he’s getting to where I want to be funny too. He’s playing your position. If I’m Shaq, then he’s Kobe. So I’ll play my position and stay as the anchor and just let him plus off the walls. It makes for a good dynamic.

WM: What do you about this year’s Oscar nominees with Will, Denzel and Halle?

IC: I’m happy for all of them, but I’m not in this for that. I’m not in this to get awards. I’m in this to make great movies. I love when someone says that they’ve seen “Friday” ten times and can’t wait to see it again. That to me is all the benefit I need to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m never the one who moans when African American goes unrecognized because I think they all get recognize; it’s just who doing the recognizing.

WM: What kind of scripts do you turn down?

IC: I won’t do something that if I read it, I’ll never watch it. If I read a script and I know I won’t watch or pay for it, then I probably won’t in it. But if I read something that I know I’ll love to see, then that determines my answer. It’s on that basis.

WM: Have you kept in touch with Chris Tucker and did you consider bringing him back for “Friday after Next”?

IC: No, I don’t keep in contact with Chris. I called him once, twice, and never again. Plus, we’ve already filmed the movie, so there’s no point. But he’s welcomed to try to audition for the fourth one. He’s moved on. I glad because then I wouldn’t have met Mike. I dig Mike’s humor because it’s less scripted.

WM: For the record, how did your name come about?

IC: My brother gave it to me. I was like 11 or 12 and my brother is nine years older. When girls called him at the house, I would like to kill his game. At some point, he would say “why are you trying to act cool, what’s wrong with you”. After some time, he started calling me Ice Cube and it stuck.