Ice Cube Wants To Make One Last Friday & Bring Back Chris Tucker (Video)
Ice Cube is the most recent guest on N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN’s Drink Champs. The same weekend Cube’s Fist Fight opened in theaters, his “Pushin’ Weight (Remix)” collaborator asked him about one of his most famous films, Friday.
While the 1995 F. Gary Gray-directed film (written by Ice Cube and early 1990s musical producer DJ Pooh) is mentioned at several places in the interview, at 18:30 N.O.R.E. inquires about the loss of Chris Tucker. The comedic actor left the franchise and did not appear in two sequels. The actor, who had a prominent stand-up comedy career prior, cited personal reasons for turning down the reprisal role of hapless drug-dealer “Smokey.”
Cube recalls learning that Tucker was out moving towards 2000’s Next Friday. “I didn’t want to [make a sequel]. I was like, ‘Man, no Chris [Tucker]? Man, what is this movie [going to look like]?’ It’s like…you’re losing a major piece, like Shaq [O’Neal] and Kobe [Bryant] breaking up. ‘How could y’all win championships [now]?,’ admits Cube, whose Cube Vision produced the films (with Priority Films). “But then, I started thinking… this movie is not about two people. It’s about a day. It’s about understanding your environment and how to have a lil’ fun, laughing at it. So I’m like, ‘Yo, it makes sense…if we continue this…maybe to go off the block [where Friday was set]. We gonna be in a new place; we’re gonna have a new cast of characters. Then I started seeing it [in my mind].” While Cube’s character of “Craig” was very much the straight-man, the film needed its comedy from a new source. He says, “When I saw Mike Epps do standup, I’m like, ‘that’s “Craig’s” cousin!'”
Aside from 1997’s Strays film with Vin Diesel (made on a reported five-figure budget), Epps was new to the screen. He had been on the Def Comedy Jam Tour since 1995, and had become a rising voice in stand-up.
N.O.R.E. recalls people in his screening of Next Friday booing at the realization that Tucker was not involved. He asks Ice Cube how confident he was in the 2000 sequel (which he wrote alone, and produced). “I knew that [Mike Epps] could hold it down. Because Friday is about a feel…more than just one person housing the movie, it’s its own thing, in a way. So I just knew that the cast that we had, and the story…of course it was gonna jar people a little bit…but I knew once people got a chance to really feel Mike Epps and see him [it would work]. His comedy is more hood than ‘Smokey’s’ to me. I just knew people would love him…look, they love Mike Epps, ’cause he’s so real and raw with it. Then, when we did part 3 [Friday After Next], bringing Katt Williams in, bringing Terry Crews, it was just a franchise people love. We want to do another one, but we want to do it right.”
N.O.R.E. then asks Ice Cube about a script reportedly called Last Friday. This would be the fourth and final film in the franchise that’s involved Nia Long, John Witherspoon, D.C. Curry, Katt Williams, The Lady of Rage, the late Bernie Mac and Justin Pierce, among many others. It would also mark Chris Tucker’s return.
“That’s what we want. We’re still trying to get Chris to do it,” declares Cube, as N.O.R.E. adds that Epps’ character would also be involved. “I hope so; I can’t make Chris do it, but fans can hit him up.”
Chris Tucker’s been notoriously choosy about roles since Y2K. Outside of his “Detective James Carter” role in Rush Hour franchise, Tucker has appeared in just two dramatic films since 1998. He appeared in the critically-acclaimed Silver Linings Playbook in 2012. He has since returned to stand-up comedy.
Elsewhere in Drink Champs, Ice Cube addresses Arabian Prince’s lack of portrayal in 2015’s Straight Outta Compton. Cube says the DJ/producer left N.W.A. the day after the famed photo with the other five members (14:00). He also says that while The Bomb Squad produced 1990’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, Ice Cube first flew to New York City in search of soliciting production from 3rd Bass beat-maker Sam Sever (32:00).
The Bomb Squad also worked closely with MC Serch, Pete Nice, and Daddy Rich.