Kevin Hart (left) and Ice Cube star in “Ride Along”
In “Ride Along” (opening Friday) Ice Cube stars as James, a no-nonsense Atlanta police officer ,who is unhappy his beloved sister Angela (played by Tika Sumpter) not only wants to marry her boyfriend Ben (Kevin Hart), but that the video game-playing school security guard is determined to join James as a member of the city’s police force. To prove himself, Ben agrees to go with his prospective brother-in-law on a wild police ride along to fight crime.
While in Chicago to promote the film last week, I sat down with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart to chat about making the film, how good each would be at being cops for real and how hard it was for Cube to keep a straight face while working with the manically funny comic that is Kevin Hart.
Q: Okay. You play a cop and a cop wannabe in this movie. Do you think you could do it for real?
IC: I have nothing but the deepest respect for our police officers. It’s one thing to play a cop in a movie, but it’s nothing like what those men and women go through every single day.
KH: Are you kidding me? I can make bad guys laugh in a film. In real life that would never happen. You’d be talking to a corpse. I agree with Cube. Those guys [the police] do amazing work — and don’t get enough credit for it.
Q: How did both of you come together to do this?
IC: The project was on the shelf for a long time. It took a long time to find the right guy to play Kevin’s role. We needed just the right comedian. Nobody fit for a long time. So we just sort of shelved it. Then Will Packer [the producer] got hold of it. He had just filmed the remake of ‘About Last Night’ with Kevin, and things just sort of came together after that — we realized Kevin was absolutely the right guy.
KH: Plus Cube and I had been wanting to do a movie for at least a year or a year and a half. This was a dream for me. I had grown up watching Cube in those ‘Friday’s’ movies and the other films he made. I grew up thinking how lucky comedians like Chris Tucker or Mike Epps were to work with Cube. So this was cool.
Q: What was the big challenge here?
IC: With Kevin, it was keeping a straight face. It was hard, man. There were a number of scenes where he cracked me up so much — it was hard to get through them.
Q: Kevin, you handle some guns in this film almost as big as you. How many takes did you have to endure when you’re thrown back into that huge box at the firing range — thanks to the kick of that rifle?
KH: Thank God I had a good stunt man. I really only had to fall back into that box a couple of times. He’s the one that flew through the air!
Q: What would surprise people about each other?
KH: I think Cube is often seen as quite serious, but he is such a great guy. Everyone has an opinion by how he seems on the surface. That’s true for many people and that’s how they judge others. But the guy is so grounded and well rounded. Plus this guy is not only a great performer, but he’s a terrific businessman with a sharp mind for the business side of entertainment. Plus he takes nothing for granted. Even after all his success he knows you have to work really hard on every project to promote it. Nothing happens by accident.
IC: Kevin is extremely intelligent. He’s sharp as a tack. At the end of the day he’s going to make a lot more money than any of us. He’s got it pegged. He knows where he’s going. Nothing is going to stop this dude and he’s going to continue to make the right decisions in his career. This guy is a keeper.
I always say, ‘Foul balls go high. They come down but they land where there’s no money. Home runs soar, and when they come down they’re in the money.’ Kevin is a home run hitter.
Q: What else is happening with both of you?
IC: In music, ‘Everything’s Corrupt’ will be out May 13. … I’m going to drop a new song the end of the month. I’m working on the NWA movie with [director] F. Gary Gray. It’s about to jump off.
KH: Next up for me is ‘It Happened One Night’ It’s always great when you’re doing a romantic movie and it’s coming from a guy’s perspective, which doesn’t happen very often. It’s a movie men can go see. It’s about relationships, but in a raw, uncut way. To be able to remake a movie that was so successful in it’s time — almost 80 years ago — that’s very cool. Especially because that was a guy’s movie thanks to Clark Gable, who appealed to men as well as women.