Dwayne Johnson may be known as a franchise booster for his fans, but Ice Cube has also proven himself to be quite the franchise master himself with three “Fridays” movies, two “Ride Along” films with Kevin Hart and his role in the “21 Jump Street” remake and its sequel.
Now, more than a decade later, Ice Cube returns to the character from his 2002 hit comedy “Barbershop” and its 2004 sequel, playing Calvin in “Barbershop: The Next Cut” out on April 15.
At first, Cube says he wasn’t sure about doing another movie when the producers came to him, until he realized the potential for Calvin being a father now.
“We realized Calvin’s son would be 14 years old and he would definitely fit in with the kids of today,” he says. “I was like, ‘Now, we’re talkin’ about a story that’s more than just roasting celebrities.’”
The story puts more focus on the barbershop’s Chicago environment and the violence there, which also contributed to Cube’s decision.
“I’m glad they put it there because Chicago is a great central location for a story like this, and I’ve always gotten a lot of love from Chicago,” he says.
The location also helped inspire the casting of fellow rapper Common, who remains active in helping the Southern Chicago community. He plays Rashad, husband to Eve’s character Terri from the earlier movies. He works at the barbershop where he butts heads with Calvin, as well as gets caught in a love triangle between Terri and co-worker Drea, played by pop singer Nicki Minaj.
“We really felt almost as if we were working at a barbershop because we truly would come in each day and be at our station,” Common says. “We spent a lot of time with each other, the way people do at jobs when you work together. We formed a bond and a community and a unit.”
Common says the barbershop is a place for people to get counseling and more. “Most people I talked to told me about how much advice is given in a barbershop or how much their clients talk about everything, from relationships to money problems to family issues to sports, You find out that a barber or a beautician is very important in their advice and what they offer to their clients.”
While Cube’s music background is in gangster rap, he doesn’t always take that persona to his film work.
“With my movies, I choose to entertain and make people feel good, because I realize my core audience is living through the stuff my records are talkin’ about,” Cube says. “When they spend all that money to go to the movies, they don’t necessarily want to be reminded of the neighborhood horrors they come from. They want to have a good time, they want to laugh, they want to escape, so that’s why I do comedies.”
Besides making people laugh and forget the daily grind, he’s always hoping to be a role model.
“You want to do what you can to hopefully inspire the youth to do the right thing,” he says. “You never know who is listening or what kind of seeds you can plant to keep kids from killing each other.”