Ice Cube had no trouble relating to Kevin Carson, the young protagonist in Lottery Ticket — opening Friday — whose life turns upside down when he wins US$370 million.
“The first thing they tell you is, ‘Don’t change!’ What you realize is you don’t change that much. It’s just everybody around you,” he says of his rise to fame 20 years ago as a rapper with NWA. “You find yourself kind of alienated. Everybody’s talking about you before you get there, and you can feel it. It’s just a whole different thing.”
As a successful rapper, actor, producer, writer and director, he’s seen incredible success, but he’s also seen the downside of it, and he cautions young artists from getting too obsessed with fame.
“Everybody that wants to be successful should always be careful what you wish for,” Cube says.” A lot of artists and entertainers want to put the genie back in the bottle. They wish they could go back to being who they were.”
But Cube himself has managed to maintain an even keel, with no desires to put that genie back. The trick, he insists, is to keep your wits about you — and to know who your friends are.
“You’ve got to make adjustments,” he says. “Who was cool with me before I made the money is going to be cool with me now. Who wasn’t cool with me before I made this, I’m giving them problems all the time like I was before. You know, don’t get nice on me now.”
For Lottery Ticket, producer Ice Cube handed the reins over to first-time director Erik White, who’d made a name for himself in music videos.
“We work with a lot of first-time directors. We always have, probably always will,” Cube says. “We like the collaborative spirit of first-time directors. I think we do well with them.”
For Cube, nurturing young artists is a major part of his company’s philosophy.
“There’s a lot of gems in our community or in our world," he says. And he insists there were no worries about whether White could handle the pressure — and no power struggles, even though Cube was also on set as an actor for the film.