Ice Cube continues his role of actor/producer in Screen Gems’ comedy First Sunday, in which Cube plays a petty criminal who robs a church. We caught up with the busy actor on the set of his new film and talked about his latest role.
ComingSoon.net: As the producer, can’t you make Tracy read his off camera lines?
Ice Cube: You want to reward people for great work so if you want to keep them fresh in 15 minutes, you gotta let it happen. You should. He’s been giving 120 percent to the project and to his role, so yeah, you want to reward the actors with basically time in their trailer, you know what I’m sayin’.
CS: Is this the next step in making movies about every day of the week?
Cube: Pretty much. I never realized, you know, that I’m kind of stuck in this weekend so a Saturday movie is somewhere in my future I can feel it so-you know, it’s just a perfect title. You know what I’m sayin’. I got people asking me, “Is that part of the Friday series?” What’s good is we are doing a whole different movie, a different day of the week, a different tone and it’s cool.
CS: How hard is it to balance the family work with your earlier adult oriented work?
Cube: You know, I just learned in Hollywood that you just gotta be a part of good movies wherever they are. You know what I’m sayin’. If you could be a part of a good movie whether it’s a kids’ movie or, you know, an action movie. Whatever. You know, just-you’ve got to jump on it especially if everything line up you know as far as people making the movie, the studio, the business-you know it all-it all adds up. You know, me myself, I’m a fan of dramas. You know, I want to do more, you know. For me they seem elusive. You know what I mean? But you know this is kind of a dramedy so you know I’m going to get a hold of one of them that’s gonna [get made.]
CS: What is the balance between seriousness and humor?
Cube: Exactly what you kind of witnessed. You know, it’s a-you know the whole story is a edgy balance. You know, we tell people that we’re robbing a church and you know people are kind of taken aback a little bit by that. You know when I add that we stupid enough to rob a church, you know what I’m sayin’, people can see what’s the funny in that. So you know, I think we got a touchy subject but we have a subject that’s real. You know the church’s responsibility to the hood, the hood responsibility to the church. So but you know it’s lightly you know taken on with the comedy of the comedians and the people that we got to move in on in some spots but it gets heavy. You know, no doubt. I would label it a dramedy. You know I don’t know if Screen Gems wanna label it that way but I would.
CS: Why are you robbing the church?
Cube: I feel personally my character Durell feels the church has basically sucked all this money from his grandmother. He sees this thing on the wall where she’s given like 31 g’s to the church and he’s broke. Struggling, needed to borrow some money, she gave her last bit of money to the church. Okay, it’s her money so that’s fine but when the church doesn’t, you know, offer the van ride service that they used to now you know it’s like, well, what are you getting out of giving all of this? What are we getting out of it? Then he ends up in the church and finds out that the church is basically planning to move. You know what I mean, and so now you done sucked all the money from this neighborhood and now you’re going to go and put it in a neighborhood where my grandmamma really can’t get to. You know, if she having trouble getting to the church while it’s here just think how much trouble she’ll have getting to it when it’s ten more miles away or whatever. So, you know, he feels that, you know these are poverty pimps and he’s going to set it straight and get some of that money back and also take care of his problems. You know, it’s twisted but in reality the grandmamma is more sacred than the church so that’s what’s going down.
CS: Has it gotten any easier selling your movies overseas?
Cube: You know it’s always hit and miss. You know if the studio doesn’t believe in it, they’re not going to push it through so you know it’s always hit and miss. Some movies do better than others but you know it’s something that you know it’s a gold mine to have as much success globally as we do here.
CS: What does David E. Talbert bring, coming from stage?
Cube: He knows good acting and he knows bad acting. I like how he deals with the actors. You know that’s definitely his strong point of getting us to deliver the performances that he wants and that he envisions so you know he has the tempo of acting whether it’s comedic or dramatic, he has that tempo down. So it’s cool to work with him and figure out you know what he sees and try to give him what he wants. You know, that takes me to a different place you know too as an actor so it’s cool.
CS: What has shooting in an actual church brought to the production?
Cube: You know it’s still a lot of profanity that’s going on and probably shouldn’t. People forget where they at then everybody starts to look around, you know, so I think at first people were, you know, a little subdued. I know being in the church has definitely helped Tracy Morgan and Katt Williams and you know, their dark side is starting to see the light. So being in the church has helped them you know so but everybody else, you know, it was like a little nervous at first but now it’s really a location. You know, I feel like we’re on a stage to be honest.
CS: Do you like being straight man to Tracy and Katt?
Cube: Yeah, I think you know that’s really my role in these kind of movies and this kind of comedy is to not try to you know be something I’m not. You know, I let people who are naturally funny, you know, Katt and everybody I’ve worked with is naturally funny you know with the lines, without the lines, with ad-libs, with physical comedy so you know Tracy’s no different, Katt so it’s like man, I don’t want to get in the way so I just you know want to make sure that I’m there to-to pitch them and you know they’ll knock them out.
CS: What made Katt and Tracy good foils for you in this movie?
Cube: Well you know Tracy was cool because he’s an east coast dude. You know we want to pull off this Baltimore thing and he’s a guy who has done a lot of different things. You know he’s well trained because of “Saturday Night Live” and you know him coming from stand up so I knew that he could do anything we asked him and he wouldn’t hesitate to jump in there and Katt you know he’s the king of the one-liners. You know with that voice all he has to do is say something. He has like a nervous pimp voice or something you know what I’m sayin’? It all sounds funny you know coming out of there. Ricky was full of one-liners who you know just like I discovered when I first worked with Katt, you know giving him one line is like you know not really even using what you have so you know his character always expands with his personality and what he brings to the table so I knew with those two dudes the movie is set because actually what’s so cool is Tracy kind of passes the baton to Katt in this movie because Tracy-we start to look at his character with Lee John. We start to look at his character from being this clown funny dude who’ll make you laugh in the beginning of the movie to him starting to look inward at himself so you basically seeing the class clown comedian that everybody knows who’s crying on the inside. We get to really start to dig in there and see him you know not feel like being funny. It’s not funny no more. You know coming to that realization so that’s cool because you know Katt takes on that and kind of takes us through the dramatic piece of the movie so it’s real cool how that happens.
CS: How often does your family visit?
Cube: They come by whenever they just kind of want to come hang out. You know maybe every couple of weeks they come out and hang out you know these movie sets are an old hat to them. You know my son just wants to really be in the trailer and you know be on wireless and all this stuff.
CS: Is there a spiritual element to “First Sunday”?
Cube: I think so. You know I think you know not overly done you know it really matters what David cuts and how he cuts it. For the most part religion is put on the back burner. It’s the conscience of the church is what’s at the end of this movie we redeem the church and the church redeems us you know in a way so you know we represent the guys who won’t go to church. Who’s just looking at it as a building that you know they [are] in there getting paid basically. So we represent that element. You know that’s not necessarily true so we need our minds need to be reformed and the church thinks you know hey let’s go bigger and better instead of let’s deal with what we got and help the community you know a bigger and better building you know more people, more money. All that kind of stuff so you know they need to be brought back home and realize what they’re here for and all that you know works itself out.
CS: Talk about the other seasoned, supporting actors.
Cube: They ground us you know. They’re the reason this isn’t a “Friday” movie. You know what I mean? So you know we got some great actors. You know Michael Beach is great and Chi and Loretta. You know everybody is like bringing their A game. You know everybody cares about the project you know from the first day we had everybody on. You know people saw that what kind of movie we was making and started bringing their A game to the table you know when a lot of actors could have just kind of phoned it in but you know these dudes are taking everybody to the next level so I think we have something special.
CS: Was Mike Epps ever going to be in the film?
Cube: I think you know originally Mike Epps and Katt Williams was gonna play the two leads but Screen Gems really didn’t you know see it that way so they wanted you know somebody a little-just a little more established I guess to play Durell which was me so then you have me doing the “Friday” movies with Mike you know just people couldn’t really see us changing the tone enough to come out of that so you know that’s why Tracy was brought to the table which you know I believe me and Mike we definitely could have because we’ve done it before you know but you know I was happy to see Tracy on the movie because I knew that we was definitely gonna have something different without even having to work at it. You know with me and Mike it was going to be a thing where we had to work closely to make sure it didn’t turn out to be a “Friday” movie you know so-but with Tracy it’s none of that you know he brings in his total-like I said, the east coast flavor and to me, it’s brilliant. I really can’t picture the movie now without Tracy.
CS: Any chance Chris Tucker will come back for a fourth “Friday”?
Cube: I would love for him to. You know we’ve talked about it. You know but that’s about as much as he wants me to say about it.
CS: How is it going with “Welcome Back Kotter”?
Cube: It needs a little work. So we gonna see. You know I don’t know if that’s going to end up being my next movie or not. You know it just needs work.
CS: Tracy said he’d like to be in it.
CS: Travolta likes the idea too, so that must feel good to have his blessing.
Cube: Yeah you know I’d love him to do a cameo. You know I would love for all the guys to do a little cameo here and there but you know we’ll see. You know it’s funny to try to take a movie that’s like a icon and flip it the way we are but you know I think we got a good story and a good way to do it so we’ll see.
CS: Will you take a more dramatic spin on that?
Cube: I always looked at the series as you know when it came out at the time it wasn’t as sitcomy as it you know may feel. You know it was a little hard edge you know what I mean for the time you know you dealt with kids who some of them skipping school and all this kind of stuff that you really you know didn’t see. You know like the Sweathogs thing and they would deal with topics that was you know not the typical sitcomy topics. You know they would talk about real life stuff so I thought it was you know true to what the nature of the series is to do same thing. You know to make it more of a dramatic feel and not so up your nose with a rubber nose type s**t. You know what I’m sayin’?
CS: So it could be that dramatic role you were looking for?
Cube: I think that’s how it can be accepted as a new thing if we go more you know dramatic with it. You know kind of how this movie is. It’s dramatic with comedic overtones that makes the ride a little easier.
First Sunday opens in theaters on January 11, 2008.