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Lottery Ticket: Ice Cube gives the people what they want — and more

Ice Cube as Mr. Washington in Alcon Entertainment's comedy "LOTTERY TICKET," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Former N.W.A. member Ice Cube made the leap from music to film back in 1995 playing Doughboy in the seminal John Singleton movie, Boyz n the Hood. Over the past 15 years, Cube has transformed himself from the hardcore rapper who sometimes acts into a bonafide movie mogul who not only acts in, but directs and produces some of the most successful movies of the past decade.

“I just want to keep going forward doing what feels good and feels right. In this life, you need to go forward and not worry about what happens in the review mirror,” Cube said at a recent press conference in LA to promote his latest film, Lottery Ticket. “As a filmmaker, hood comedies have become my specialty. People love them. I get asked a lot about why my music is hard but then I do a family movie. Why shouldn’t I do family movies or comedies? When I do records, I have the freedom to do and say what I want. When I do movies, I do them for the audience and the people who enjoy them.”

In Lottery Ticket, which he co-produced, Cube plays Mr. Washington, a reclusive old man who comes out of hiding and befriends a neighbor (played by rapper Bow Wow) when the sudden wealth of a winning lottery ticket turns the young man’s life upside down. Cube, 41, said he got a kick out of playing a man in his 70s because it not only gave him a chance to play against type, but let him pay tribute to the older men in his life who influenced him over the years.

“I know my father was wondering why I kept watching him and studying his mannerism,” Cube said with a chuckle. “He caught me looking at him some times, too, wondering, ‘What the hell this boy looking at?’ But I wanted to pull his energy. What I didn’t want was to play a dude who was 70 that had lost his swagger, because the old dudes I know still got their swagger. They don’t lose it.”

Swagger wasn’t the only thing Cube saw in his father and the other men he studied to create Mr. Washington. “For years, these older cats have been pulling me aside and telling me what it takes to be a man in this world. I respect that. So I just wanted to draw that essence from these people who have been so instrumental in my life,” he said, adding of the final character he created, “I couldn’t wait to play him. I wanted to get outside the box and play somebody that was totally different from what anybody has ever seen me play before.”

Asked if his success in music and film helped him identify with the problems and pressures that surround the suddenly-rich young man in the movie, Cube passed on some classic words of wisdom.

“The first thing they tell you when you start to get successful is don’t change,” he said. “What you realize, though, is that you don’t change that much: It’s everybody around you that starts to change. People start to feel alienated as your life changes and you go through a period of adjustment. I’ve learned that who was cool with me before I made money is usually cool with me now. If they were not cool with me before I made the money, then I’m still giving them problems like I was before, so don’t try to get nice with me now.”