TORQUE An Interview with Ice Cube
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By Alberlynne “Abby” Harris
Of all the rappers who are in the film business from LL Cool J to Queen Latifah, no one has been more successful than Ice Cube. When he first appeared in “Boyz ‘N The Hood” back in ’91, you could tell he would be this “game” for a good minute. When the time was right, he started to produce films and the dividends were enormous. The first Friday film made enough money to make a sequel, and that film made more money for a third. At the same time, Ice Cube starred and was featured in other films such as The Players Club, Higher Learning, and Three Kings. Two years ago, Ice Cube starred in the financially successful Barbershop, in which a sequel is forthcoming. In the meantime, he’s ready to give us some more flavor with the action-packed film, Torque. In this film, Ice Cube plays Trey Wallace, a biker who seeks vengeance on the man who supposedly killed his brother. In an interview with blackfilm.com, Ice Cube speaks about working on this film and what films we expect to see him next.
AH: Was this a deliberate choice to get away from doing the comedy?
IC:In a way, yeah. You kind of wait for something like this to come along. We waited. We always try to figure out what’s next and which way for us to go. I have been trying to get me an international audience for a long time. These kinds of movies are a way it can be done.
AH: You do a lot of snarling in this movie, did you have to practice that?
IC:That comes naturally. [He provides a demonstration].
AH: Did you have to prepare for the stunts or did you have a stunt double?
IC: We had a few. We had professionals for different things. Some people could do wheelies really well, and others could do stunts like fall off of the bikes. It was a lot of different people involved. We did about four weeks of training. It was cool and it made us better riders. We had the best people out there teaching us the tricks of the trade.
AH: Did you ride bikes before this movie?
IC:A little bit, but not as much as this
AH: Are you a fan of bikes, generally?
AH: Have you been riding since?
IC:Yeah! Now I ride a Kawasaki 750. I tear up the neighborhood. But I don’t get too crazy, because I still have a lot to live for.
AH: When you started in the rap game, did you always envision that acting, film and production would become a part of your master plan?
IC: The master plan comes after you learn the business. What I did was, tried to seize my opportunities. I tried to see what was out there for me. My pops always told me that the world is full of opportunity. You either take them or deny them. So I always kept that in mind when I saw opportunities to write the video instead of hiring someone to write it; see what the camera guy was doing. All these opportunities are around all these artists and they need to take advantage or they can just hang out in their trailer.
AH: This is your first time working with Warner Bros. What is that like?
IC: I think that Warner Bros. is really starting to feel me. They really have a couple of good things lined up for me.
AH: Was it your idea to say "F. .K da police" or was that already in the script?
IC: Now, actually, it was Joseph Kahn's idea. He said he was a fan, that's why he wanted me. He asked me if I had used it in a movie before. He said, "I want to be the first one!"
AH: In making that transition from being a rapper to acting did it require any formal training?
IC: Some of it came pretty natural. I think I went to a class once. John Singleton told me to go meet with this acting coach. I said I would go, but if it felt corny I was not going to stay. I went and it did not feel right. So I complained to Larry Fishburne. He told me that "the best acting is not acting, do your thing." So from then on I took my own cues and tried to study the best people.
AH: How do you feel you have developed as an actor?
IC: I'm getting better. I am more comfortable with the process. It still takes a long time to get truly comfortable with acting. You feel a lot of insecurities when you act. You cannot really force this whole business. You have to pick your spots. I want to get a reputation of being in good movies; movies that are not a waste of your time or money.
AH: Do you like playing the role of a villain or do you prefer the good guy?
IC: I like them both. Which ever I choose to do I try to put my all into it to make it believable. I try to keep my personal feelings out of the way.
AH: There are many rappers turned actors. Have you considered going the sitcom route?
IC: No. Being in the movies is the biggest arena to me. I might do television way down the line, but for now films is where I want to be. It's where they all want to be.
AH: Have you considered writing or developing a sitcom?
IC: I could see my company maybe developing one. But as for me being in one or doing one, I don't really see it.
AH: Is there any particular actor that you like to study over and over again?
IC: You have to watch movies like The Godfather. Those are great performances. It's an ensemble. Whenever you can catch an ensemble like that, you have to watch it over and over. I am into great acting, great directing. Even a movie like Jaws, you are so caught up with the shark! Movies like that are just magical.
AH: Have you always been a comedian?
IC: Well, we have always had a sense of humor. In my household, my neighborhood, people I am around. I am usually cool with funny people. My comedy is a little dark, but to me that is the best kind.
AH: Is there a particular actor or director that you are interested in working with in the future?
IC: I would love to work with Scorsese or Robert Dinero, Al Pacino, Denzel. Those are some of the great people that I'd like to work with.
AH: Are there any particular characters or story ideas you'd like to develop?
IC: Not yet. There are a lot of things I want to do in the industry. I still want to play a major bad guy that the audience can sympathize with. A guy that you are not supposed to root for, but that you love. That would be a dream come true.
AH: Can you talk about doing the sequel to Barbershop?
IC: We got all of the players back. Everyone that was in the first film agreed to do the second one. That is one of the key ingredients to making a great sequel. We had an experienced director in Kevin. He did "How Stella Got her Groove Back" and "The Soul of the Game". I knew we would have movie that had a little more structure with little better camera movement. Plus the script and storyline are a little more interesting. You are definitely back in the barbershop. You have to ask yourself a lot of questions. Do we leave the neighborhood the same or do we kick everybody out and put in something new? These are things that the first movie really could not get to. Know you know who the people are and you can move forward. Plus, you add in Latifa and there you go. That's the cherry on top.
AH: Can you talk a little about XXX 2 as well?
IC:Just starting to work out and starting to change the diet. We are just hashing things out. I want it to fit like a glove. I do not want a cookie cutter Hollywood movie. Even though we are doing things big, I want it to be smart.
AH: Have you talked to Vin Diesel about the role?
AH: Is there anything, as an actor, that you will not do?
IC: There are a lot of things in this industry that I will not do. But I will keep those to myself.
AH: Is a clothing line in your future?
IC: That could be in the future, but not in the near future. I do not believe that you should do everything just because you can. You should do it because you can do it better than everybody else.
AH: Are there any cautions you'd like to extend to the young viewers of this movie?
IC: The thing about this movie that I think is cool is that it is over the top. I hope nobody tries to jump on an Amtrak with their motorcycle. We were way over the top for a reason. We gave a motorcycle rider's dream. Just ride with us in the movie and obey the laws on the road!
AH: What advice would you give to other rappers that are seeking to turn actor?
IC: Be careful of the kind of movies you agree to do. Just because someone wants to put you in a movie, does not mean it is the role for you or that its going to take your career to another level. I was extremely lucky. It was my first movie and it was a great movie all around. No matter what actor was in it, it was a great movie. It touched people and it gave me credibility in Hollywood. It was a nice launching pad. If I had not had that, I think it would have been a longer and harder road to get to where I am now.
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