Ride Along 2 may not be up for any awards but it’s knocked Star Wars off the box office top spot. Ice Cube and Kevin Hart speak to Keeley Bolger
The ongoing row about the lack of diversity among this year’s Academy Awards nominees is gaining momentum, with high-profile stars Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith and Spike Lee boycotting the ceremony, and Dustin Hoffman and George Clooney calling for change.
Among the discussions about those nominated - it’s the second consecutive year the committee have unveiled an all-white shortlist - many have held up Straight Outta Compton as a shining example of where non-white actors have been overlooked.
Charting the rise of seminal hip hop group NWA - who held power to account in the Eighties and Nineties, with their stirring lyrics and anthems, Express Yourself and Straight Outta Compton - the film’s solo nomination came for the white screenwriters.
But NWA’s Ice Cube, and Kevin Hart, who join forces for new action-comedy Ride Along 2, think people need to look at the bigger picture.
“You’re talking to two guys who couldn’t care less,” says 36-year-old comedian and actor Hart, known for his roles in Get Hard and The Wedding Ringer.
“We hate that we say it like that, but it’s honestly a shrug of the shoulders. I think people are making it bigger than what it is. At the end of the day, if you’re not happy with something, you just don’t have to support it.”
Working as a shoe salesman before launching a hugely successful career in comedy, Hart judges success by his audience’s reaction - and not by the Hollywood awards circuit, while Ice Cube tweeted ‘Who cares about SNUBS when you getting STUBS?’, in reference to Ride Along 2’s ticket sales success in the US.
“My personal feeling? I didn’t get into the business to win Oscars,” reasons the father-of-two, who is fresh from a stand-up gig in Manchester. “I’ve never had the urge to say that’s what I need as justification to show I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.
“I’m in it for fanfare. I’m in it for people,” Philadelphia-born Hart adds. “People support your content, your product; that’s the biggest applause you can get. So in my particular case, I feel like I’ve had six number one movies so far, that’s six Oscars to me. It doesn’t get bigger or better than that.”
Ice Cube, who, post NWA went on to sell more than 10m albums as a solo artist and starred in Three Kings and Barbershop, nods in agreement.
“You make movies not for the industry but for the people,” says the 46-year-old, whose son O’Shea Jackson Jr. played him in Straight Outta Compton.
“And when the people come out in droves and support your projects, how can you be mad you didn’t get a trophy? You know what I mean? You’re like, ‘Damn you want everything?’ So it’s the Academy’s issue to me. It’s not our problem, it’s their problem.”
Likewise, Hart thinks we need to address the membership of the Academy, which a 2012 LA Times study revealed was made up of 94 oper cent white and 77 per cent male members.
In the last few days, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has spoken about the outcry, saying she is “heartbroken” by the lack of inclusion and is calling for “big changes”.
Currently, the duo’s fan base - including Hart’s 25m or so Twitter followers and Cube’s 2.67m - have made Ride Along 2 number one in the US, even knocking Star Wars off the top spot.
“It’s fun,” says Ice Cube. “It’s called Ride Along and you want to be in that car with James and Ben. Our dynamic and our chemistry is seamless, and people like that.”
“For us, it was about making the action and the comedy fit for today’s society,” adds Hart.
Ride Along 2 is in cinemas now