The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - JAMES WIGNEY

The first Ride Along movie was a real sleeper hit – what can you tell me about the se­quel and your char­ac­ter Ben?

Ben has stepped it up a notch. Not only is he get­ting mar­ried but he is now a cop so his au­thor­ity level has been raised. So my ac­tion def­i­nitely went up some; I was able to do more and be in­volved in more. I get to shoot guns a lit­tle more; I get to be in the chase scenes. There’s more ac­tion in this movie and we wanted to make sure the au­di­ence that left part 1 would feel we did a great job of ramp­ing it up in part 2. More laughs, more ac­tion; we have given peo­ple a lot more bang for their buck.

You’re slap­ping around Ice Cube again in this one – we saw Straight Outta Comp­ton and he’s a pretty dan­ger­ous guy. How did that go?

He was fine. It’s all play – we don’t take our­selves too se­ri­ously and the beauty of that is we both have a good sense of hu­mour. There are no egos on the ta­ble and, when we show up to work, we show up to do our job. But not only are we do­ing our job, we are hav­ing a lot of fun do­ing it.

What do you learn from a guy like Ice Cube?

You learn the art of longevity. Cube has been in the game for a long time as an ac­tordi­rec­tor-pro­ducer who has stayed rel­e­vant for more than 25 years. So from a guy like that, the one thing you learn is the im­por­tance of stay­ing true to your craft and al­ways be­ing cre­ative and in­ven­tive.

Ride Along didn’t get a lot of love from crit­ics but per­formed at the box of­fice – how do you feel about that?

Well, to be hon­est, crit­ics, their job is to cri­tique. The day you al­low a critic’s judg­ment to skew your views of where you are and what your prod­uct is, is the day you shouldn’t be in the busi­ness. The movies that the crit­ics hate the most are the ones that fans love the most. I just don’t feed into that stuff.

Does it help that you can now en­gage di­rectly with your fans through your huge so­cial me­dia pro­file?

The beau­ti­ful thing about so­cial me­dia is that it’s your brand – it’s what you started and you de­velop it all on your own. Those are peo­ple who sup­port and fol­low you and have grown with you. So if you stay true to that, you al­ways have an out­let and a dif­fer­ent pro­mo­tional tool that oth­ers don’t have and there is a huge value in that.

You were back in Aus­tralia with your What Now? show this month – what do you get from stand-up com­edy that you don’t get from any­where else?

I own it. I con­trol it. It’s all op­er­ated by me. That’s what makes stand-up so amaz­ing. The fact that you can go around the world mak­ing ev­ery­body laugh, that’s a big, big deal.

It must be harder to work up new ma­te­rial now you are a star – if you go to a small club, ev­ery­one has a phone and a cam­era th­ese days. How do you deal with that?

I have a pol­icy where peo­ple can’t tape or record dur­ing my show – if they do, they are asked to leave. So that keeps me well po­si­tioned so my ma­te­rial can be saved so it’s brand new for each city. Com­edy isn’t like mu­sic – you can hear a song but you can lis­ten to it over and over again. Com­edy isn’t the same; when you hear a joke you have heard it, so I don’t want to kill or spoil that mo­ment for my fan base. If I am work­ing on ma­te­rial, I go to small com­edy clubs and build up my ma­te­rial un­til I am at a com­fort­able point where I can take it to a mas­sive tour­ing level. You don’t want to lose sight of who you are and that’s why I love still go­ing to smaller com­edy clubs.

You keep re­turn­ing to standup even though your movie ca­reer has taken off in a big way – does it keep you grounded and en­er­gised?

Of course. We def­i­nitely have a level of in­ten­sity that goes along with it be­cause when you are on stage telling sto­ries and gaug­ing the in­stant re­ac­tion of a crowd, and that re­ac­tion is com­ing through laugh­ter, you get a ma­jor level of ex­cite­ment from it.

Ride Along 2 opens to­day

Ice Cube, Olivia Munn and Kevin Hart in a scene from Ride Along 2.

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