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Ice Cube's Cubevision

CubeVision is ice cubes new movie production company "next friday, barbershop, all about the benjamins" were all produced under the CubeVision production company

Here's a small interview talking to ice cube and mike epps about the company and what new films are coming to CubeVision

By Tor Thorsen

Q: Craig, the character you play in the Friday series, is the complete opposite of your hip-hop image. He's kind of your everyday fella versus this hard-core gangster.

Ice Cube: Yeah, as an actor, you try to get out of the way. You don't want to bring in any real baggage into the movie, because people will see. I want people to fall into this whole Craig thing, I don't want them to be up there thinking, "Oh, that's Cube, that's Cube." Five minutes into the movie, I want you to be calling me Craig. I just try to get out of the way, so if the script calls for me to be scared, you know, I'm going to do it. I'm going to do it to the fullest. With these movies, what's so cool is that Craig's kind of the hub, and everybody around him is crazy. He kind of takes the background. He's the audience reaction, in a way.

Q: You've done a bunch of comedies and a few action movies, but only two of your roles — three if you count BarberShop — have been dramatic. Your performances in Three Kings and Boyz N The Hood got rave reviews — why don't you do more serious films?

IC: I want to do a hard-core crime story. A drama, you know, real, real violent! [Laughs] It'll come, we've got a couple of ideas. But right now comedies seem like the path of least resistance for us. They work, people love 'em, and that's what we're in it for. We're not in it to just beat our own ego, we want to get people to love the movie so much that they can see it more than once.

Q: I read in Variety that not a single movie that you've produced and starred in has ever lost money. Now, if another producer or star had that kind of record, studios would be offering them higher-profile, bigger-budget projects. Why are you still only making these small-scale 'hood movies?

IC: Well right now, these are the kind of movies that I like to make. I still think there's stories to be told. I always look at this thing as longevity. I don't want to try to do everything overnight, I want to want to do it gradually to get to a time where I can do bigger movies. I want to get better as a company, to put a couple more pieces together at Cube Vision and then take on some of these $40-, $50-million movies. Right now, we're just working with what we got, and with Friday, it just kind of took on a life of its own, and we had to pay attention to that.

Q: Now in that same article, you complain that too often your films are given only limited marketing towards mainly black audiences. Do you think there's still a color barrier in Hollywood?

IC: Not from the audience, but from the people making the movies. The studios, they're the ones with blinders on. They're the ones who don't understand that if people want to see it, they'll go see it. You don't have to target. People think they're so good at targeting. The people who make those decisions, they're not smart enough to see that it's a different world out there now. People just want to be entertained, they don't care about your color.

It's hard to change Hollywood — that's some old-school money. It's real hard to change their minds. Then a movie like BarberShop comes out, and its success — not to take anything away from MGM — but its success was almost a mistake. Because MGM had never done these kinds of movies, they didn't know how to target. So they just put it out like they put out all their other movies. Look at the return. You put it out there wide, a lot of people will see it. Other companies should learn from that. You don't have to target, because if you do, you're missing your real target.

Q: Is this going to be the last Friday?

IC: I don't know. It's up to the audience.

Mike Epps: We might have Craig and Day-Day get old and start doing Sunday movies! [Laughs]

IC: Us, we're going to continue to do things together, whether they're Friday movies or not. We're going to continue to team up — it's a combination people love. We'd be crazy to go our separate ways and not find time to team up.

Q: Your film career is flourishing, but it's been eight years since your last proper album. Are you giving up on hip-hop?

IC: You know, to me the rap game is like the NFL. It's really a young man's game. The older you get in the game, the less and less —

ME: The more injuries you get! [Laughs]

IC: Yeah, the more hamstrings you pull! [Laughs] It's just, the way it's structured, it's a young man's game. So it's a natural progression to try to do something different. I'll always look at rappers like me and [Dr.] Dre, and LL [Cool J] as the Jerry Rices, the Karl Malones of the rap game. We still can play at the highest level, but people are used to seeing us do it so much, it don't really excite them as much as the youngsters coming in. And that's really the life of a rapper with longevity. But with this new album I'm going to do, I'm signing to Aftermath, Dre's company, my new album could possibly be my best one. We're going to start working on it in January, so it should be out in the summer.

Q: You going to tour?

IC: Yeah, we're going to tour. He [motions to Epps] is going to do his album right after mine, so we'll put a tour together. So music is still right up there, I just want to make sure the situations are right. I've been on Priority [Records] for a long time, I just got off that label, so I've got a new start, a new beginning.

Q: A lot of this movie is really silly, but a lot is also very funny; people are doing dumb things, but the film itself doesn't feel dumb. As a writer, is it hard to toe the line between stupid and hilarious?

IC: I keep it funny. I mean, we go over the top, but it's a good over the top. We never get to the point where we beat a joke into the ground. With our jokes, we hit you, then set you up for the next one, then hit you again. We're relentless on it, but I'm not worried about that because I have so many good people around, the script is pretty tight. I just worry about it getting out of hand.

Q: [To Epps] Now, he says the script is pretty tight, but it seems like a lot of your stuff is improvisational. How much of it do you make up on the spot?

ME: Damn near everything.

IC: To a certain degree. What he does is take the script and elaborates on it. Different things come out but —

ME: We try to stay in the frame.

IC: Everything is structured when I write it. But I don't overwrite it, I underwrite it, because I know if I give him one or two lines, he can take it and run with it. I'd say it's about 35% ad-lib.

ME: The thing is everybody who's in these movies has the ability to put their own stuff in it.

IC: Yeah, I mean, if you're making a comedy, you better fill it with comedians! To me, it's just naturally the thing to do. These are the people who make me laugh. So to put them on-screen, to get them to work together, it's great. I mean none of our community is fighting each other for jokes, everybody just plays their part, has a good time. I love to be around them, because wouldn't you want to be around eight or nine comedians who are making you laugh all day?

Q: With your rap career and your movies, you've probably got the most crossover appeal to white audiences of any rapper-turned-actor —

IC: What about Will? Will Smith.

Q: Oh. Well, I guess I never really thought of him as a rapper. I mean, "Parents Just Don't Understand"? "Big Willie Style"? Not exactly hip-hop milestones.

IC: It's more commercial.

ME: Plus he was on TV.

Q: Anyway, I was going to ask if you thought that, with 8 Mile doing so well, that Eminem was going enjoy similar crossover success among black audiences.

IC: He already does it with his music. If the movie's good, he can set himself off, have a career in film. The thing is, you can't just be in a movie. The movie has to be both impressive to the moviegoing audience as well as the moviemaking audience. If you don't hit a home run you better damn sure hit a triple, if you want to get your career in motion. Otherwise, you're just going to be some rapper who did a cameo. I know you guys [motions to reporters] can tell the difference.

Q: In Next Friday, Craig and Day-Day moved out of the 'hood and into the suburbs. In Friday After Next, they're back in the 'hood. Does this mean you're of the opinion that African-Americans should stay in the 'hood, or get out when they have the chance?

IC: I got out. I mean, you can only do so much as one man. At some point it just doesn't make sense, the reality of it. I mean, everybody wants to stay in the 'hood, but nobody wants 40 or 50 people coming by their house every day. You just gotta be smart, do what's best for you and your family. You can do things to help the neighborhood as a star, entertainer, from outside the 'hood. But just look at what happened to Jam Master Jay. His studio was in his old neighborhood. You never know who's jealous, who's angry at you. I mean it's a jungle out there. You walk around with steak on you, you're going to get eaten. That's just the way it is. Everybody wants to stay, but the reality just pushes you away.

Q: Now you've got Leprechaun in the Hood for St. Patrick's Day and Tales from the Hood and Bones for Halloween. But as far as I know, this is the first Christmas film in the 'hood. Now us poor white folk are stuck with Tim Allen as our movie Santa Claus. If you could pick one African-American actor to be the first black Santa Claus, who would it be?

IC: Dead or alive?

Q: Er, doesn't matter.

IC: Redd Foxx. [Laughs]

ME: Oh man, I'm with that! [Laughs]

IC: He's my Santa Claus!