IAR INTERVIEW: Ice Cube and Kevin Hart Talk 'Ride Along'

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 10:35 Written by  iamrogue
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IAR INTERVIEW: Ice Cube and Kevin Hart Talk 'Ride Along'

A buddy comedy is all about the two buddies.

In this Friday's Ride Along, Ice Cube (Friday) and Kevin Hart (Think Like a Man) make like buddies for an action-comedy that puts a little spin on the standard mismatched unlikely partners cop adventure.

The man who famously had words for the police during his days with N.W.A. stars as James, the biggest badass on the Atlanta police force.  Ascendant comedian Hart, meanwhile, is Ben, a high school security guard and passionate video game enthusiast who is deeply in love with James's sister Angela (Think Like a Man co-star Tika Sumpter). 

Having finally been accepted to the police academy, Ben thinks it's finally time to seek James's approval of his plan to marry Angela.  In order to win the laconic detective's grudging respect, Ben sets out on a one-night ride along with James.  What they thought would be a routine ride along spirals out of control, however, when the duo end up on the trail of the city's most dangerous criminal.

At the Los Angeles press day promoting the film, IAR had the opportunity to speak with Cube and Hart.  The unlikely duo enthusiastically discussed the finer points of Ride Along, from their unique chemistry to their co-stars, working with director Tim Story (Fantastic Four), and staying creative even after decades in the business.

As with any buddy cop film, the audience's enjoyment hinges upon the rapport between the central duo.  So in a very real way, Ride Along depends on the interplay between the two stars.  Hart explained his relationship with Cube, saying, "First of all, there’s a mutual respect. When you come in and you are aware of what a person has done, I think the level of excitement grows. Knowing Cube’s background and knowing the comedic careers that he’s launched and he’s going into producing and directing and writing, just as a man who has taken his career seriously and opened so many doors, I was excited. After meeting with him and talking and vibing with him and talking about the project and seeing his passion, I grew more excited. Once we got on set, we both had the same agenda, which was to knock this movie out of the damn park and make sure we both bring our A-game. It takes a true professional to let someone like myself to come in and have the opportunity to be funny and riff and Cube, he didn’t mind doing that. That’s a major thing. There are so many people who would try to battle with the funny. Cube did a great job of playing his lane and letting me do my thing and I take my hat off to him for that. It’s a different level of respect I have for guys like that."

"Working with Kevin has been fun, just seeing him be such a pro and get busy," said Cube. "Not only on-set, but in meetings, he makes everybody feel good. He makes everyone feel part of the process. I haven’t seen anyone command a sense since Eddie Murphy like Kevin. He holds you hostage until he lets you go. Everybody’s captivated by what he’s doing. It’s an amazing talent. It’s magical to see somebody go there and they’re able to really capture all audiences with it. Not just the hood audience, but everybody else that exists in the world."

"He’s cool because he’ll make the crew laugh, but also make the camera laugh too and a lot of guys can’t do that," the rap luminary continued. "Some comedians I’ve had to pull to the side and say, 'You’re making the crew crack up,but when we’re shooting, you ain’t got no energy. What the fuck?' He’s not like that. He’s an Energizer bunny. I don’t know if it’s coffee or cocaine. He’s always on and it’s personality, it’s not an act. It’s a great thing to work with someone who is such a pro."

In the story, the only initial common ground between Ben and James is their mutual love for their respective girlfriend and little sister.  So the casting of Angela was crucially important.  Both actors said that Tika Sumpter was ideally suited to play the part. "Tika’s great, man. Tika’s going to do big things," Hart said. "Young actress, such a good head on her shoulders -- and she’s good. She shines on camera, looks amazing. I felt that the casting of her was perfect because you believe the relationship. Even the brother-sister that she and James had, you believe. I don’t think they could have cast anyone better for that. Everything about her was perfect."

"I thought she was a great casting. After you look at us on the screen for so long, you can’t wait to see Tika," agreed Cube with a laugh.

Ride Along is unmistakably a comedy, but it is also an action movie with real stakes and emotional investment for both characters.  This was key, according to Cube, who explained, "I think in a great comedy you have to have those moments, sprinkled out, but not too many. Those moments help you to ground the comedy, if not it’s wacky. You don’t want to be Naked Gun. You want to be grounded in reality."

"That was also huge with our conversations in the beginning before we started the film," recalled Hart. "Cube was vocal in saying, 'I want this movie to be different. I want you to be along with these guys and I want it to make sense.' Within the original script, those pieces were already there. It was just about tightening and making it our own. Tim Story did a good job of making sure we were all on the same page. The big thing he said was grounding it. I asked every day to Tim, 'Make sure I’m not all over the place with my levels. I want to be funny, but it has to be a believable funny.' Because if I’m just out there screaming with my hands up, I’ll look like a cartoon at the end of the day, but I feel that he tracked both of our characters."

"You see these vulnerable moments and elevates the material," he concluded.

Twelve years after first collaborating with helmer Story, Ice Cube reunites with the director for another comedy.  The star sang his Story's praises, saying, "I don’t know how Tim Story gets anything done. He’s so laid back. It’s like he’s in total control of the set, but his posture is like he’s somebody who’s been invited. He’s a friend hanging around, he’s so relaxed. He’s so easy to work with. He knows exactly what he wants. When I first worked with him on Barbershop, that first week was rough. We had seventeen, eighteen-hour days because he knew what he wanted, he just didn’t know how long it was going to take to get what he wanted. Now, he’s quick fast, [producer] Will Packer’s back there helping him guide the ship. It’s a pleasure. I can’t wait to work with him again."

"Tim is a different level of professional, Hart said. "The good thing about Tim, he literally he has such a great rapport with his actors. The most important thing for a director is being able to communicate. When you communicate comfortably, regardless of what you’re saying, it can always be processed. Even if it was him critiquing you, it came off so comfortable to where it was okay. It was such a great rapport that everybody was comfortable. You have to credit your director with that because if he’s high strung and you see a vein in the middle of his head every day and he’s always taking his hat off looking at the time, something ain’t right. This movie won’t be right. We never had that feeling, ever."

In a fact sure to make many people feel old, Cube made his acting debut as Doughboy in Boyz in the Hood almost twenty-five years ago.  And it has been twenty-seven years since his first single with Dr. Dre.  Looking back on his decades as part of the popular culture as a rapper and actor, Cube said, "It’s been an amazing ride. I always tell people that if you gave me a pen and a piece of paper when I was a teenager and said, 'Write out your career and how you want it to go.' I would have shortchanged myself compared to what it’s been for real. I’m extremely excited about what I’ve accomplished, but also I’m young and I have a lot more to offer and a lot more to do. I’m actually restrained a little bit by the process of Hollywood as far as the creative ideas I have, it is impossible to do them all. That’s a little humbling, but I always feel that I fight through it and make sure that I’m always creative."

Ride Along opens nationwide this Friday, January 17th.

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