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In a twist of irony, [you have a] distaste for police and now you’re captain in this movie—what did it feel like to be in a role you despised?
I felt like I had finally succumbed to the conspiracy of Hollywood trying to put me and Ice-T in cop movies. It was cool. It was fun. It’s acting at the end of the day. I definitely support cop acting more than cops. But, you know, all of ‘em ain’t bad, just most of ‘em.
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Who makes a better cop, you or Ice-T?
Ice-T. I’m a terrible cop. I’m the cop who is secretly a crook. I’m looking for that big score and I could just quit and go to Mexico.
How do you make remakes fresh for new audiences, but still pay tribute to those who really were fans of the old TV shows?
I think they did a remake of Psycho where they shot shot-for-shot of what that was. To me that’s not cool enough. It’s cool to take the premise. That’s what’s cool about 21 Jump Street. We took the premise and bring it up to date, wink about it, and make something that’s fitting for right now. You don’t really have to see the series at all to get into this movie.
You’ve done so many different things in your career. Was there one great piece of advice someone gave you?
Yeah, a cameraman when I was working on Boyz in the Hood, He was looking at me with a smirk on his face. And I’m like what’s up, what are you looking at? He said: “You know, Cube, I’ve filmed ‘em all, from Sidney Poitier to Bill Cosby to Richard Pryor to Eddie Murphy, Red Fox, Flip Wilson, I’ve filmed them all and now I’m here filming you. It taught me, damn, where is the longevity in my business? Is it in front of the camera or behind the camera? I realized that there’s more longevity behind the camera than in front of the camera.” Just that conversation started my quest to get behind the camera. I’ve been fighting from doing that movie until I was able to do Friday to get behind the camera and become a part of actual filmmaking.