Ice Cube, who played the patience-tested captain in charge of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in "21 Jump Street," is back and grumpier than ever in "22 Jump Street," a sequel well aware of itself. The former N.W.A. rapper fills us in on the new film and the awkward legacy of "F— tha Police."
What did you think when you saw how much more you'd be doing in this one compared to the first one?
I liked it, you know? I think people love Capt. Dickson. [Laughs] He talks as much s— as possible, and everybody's with it. It was cool just to get the tone right and to do a movie that people dig that's fun — as fun as the first one. People respond to it. I think our greatest assett is low expectations. [Laughs]
I would think after the success of the first one, expectations would be pretty high.
Yeah, but people in the back of their minds don't think we could get the sequel as good as the first one. People rarely do. It's not easy to include the audience without taking them out of the story, but [directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller] do a great job of letting people know that we're making a cheesecake out of a cheesy idea. [Laughs] This kind of movie, the worst thing it could do is take itself too seriously.
Are you taking any lessons here as you go into planning a sequel for "Ride Along"?
Yeah, you know, I'm a vet at doing sequels, but they're hit-and-miss. I think the real page you need to take away from it is to make sure you do a new movie that can stand on its own two feet and not a movie that's borrowing off the first movie, because that's when you get lazy and you run into trouble.
Some people took the success of "Ride Along" as a surprise. How did you feel about that?
You know, that's cool. [Laughs] I love to be underestimated. It gives me a leg up to get underestimated. And to surpass expectations — it's all glory. So I don't mind it. People have been putting me short my whole life. I always go above and beyond to make it happen.
How often do people ask about the irony of you playing a cop, since you got your start with "F— tha Police"? And how tired are you of getting that question?
They actually happen every interview, and I'm not tired of it. If you really know what I'm talking about in the music, you know I'm talking about dirty cops, I'm talking about corrupt cops, I'm talking about cops who abuse their authority. I'm not talking about the cops that come and save your grandmother when she's getting mugged. So to think I hate all cops is crazy. And I'm in Hollywood. They're obsessed with the lives of law enforcement and military, so if I'm doing movies — especially over 20 years — it's more than likely I'm going to end up playing something like that. It's make believe, anyway.
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter @nedrick