AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 09: O'Shea Jackson Jr. attends the "Long Shot" Premiere - 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Paramount Theatre on March 09, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW)
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW

Interview: O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube’s son) showing range with ‘Long Shot,’ ‘Godzilla’

Originally posted Tuesday, April 30, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

As the son of legendary actor and rap star Ice CubeO’Shea Jackson Jr. has both advantages and challenges in Hollywood. 

Being Ice Cube’s progeny opens doors in some cases but at the same time, it could hinder him as well. 

So Jackson has been strategic with his acting career. He made a splash in 2015’s critically acclaimed N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton” playing his dad. But since then, he has landed roles in a variety of genres. He was Aubrey Plaza’s sex-starved landlord/boyfriend in the indie film “Ingrid Goes West.” He joined Gerard Butler and 50 Cent in a glossy, Atlanta-produced heist film “Den of Thieves.” 

And now he is promoting two back-to-back releases in May: the nerd wish fulfillment comedy “Long Shot” this Friday and the big-budget sci-fi flick “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (shot in metro Atlanta) May 31.  

Jackson freely acknowledges his role in “Long Shot” is supplemental, a vehicle for Seth Rogan’s schlubby journalist character Fred Flarsky to run into his glamorous former babysitter Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), who is now Secretary of State. And yes, the unlikely duo fall in love.

“When you have an opportunity to do a movie with Seth and Charlize, you kind of jump on that,” said Jackson, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Buckhead last week. 

He plays Fred’s best bud Lance, an upbeat tech billionaire entrepreneur. He has a handful of scenes, pumping Fred’s wavering self esteem and cheering him on to hook up with Charlotte. The producers liked him so much, he said, they added an extra scene with him and Seth after the fact. 

“They let me shine,” Jackson said. “It’s really important for me this early in my career to shine. My inspiration is Han Solo. Luke is cool but Han Solo is cooler. He gets Chewy and the Millennium Falcon. Then [Harrison Ford] becomes Indiana Jones!”

And what was it like meeting Theron, better known for dramatic roles? “She knocked it out of the park,” he said. “You pay attention when Charlize is in the room. She kills it. She gets hella laughs.” 

As aspiring screenwriter and producer, Jackson also knows his role as an actor: “Push the story along. That’s the primary objective. Get whatever funny out that you can.”

His dad’s film career is impressive, ranging from the late John Singleton’s groundbreaking “Boyz n the Hood” to the comedy “Friday” films to critically acclaimed “Three Kings” to the “Ride Along” movies. 

“I want to be seen as versatile like him,” Jackson said. “I’m not just a rapper’s son. I don’t want to be typecast.” 

And like his father, “I have to break down the walls of what people think of me by handling myself a certain way. I am always trying to be the utmost professional. I come to set an hour, hour and a half early. I’m ready to work and knock it out. I want to show all the studios and producers that I can be whatever you need.”

Ice Cube keeps his son humble, he said. “Focus on the work,” he said. “But he’ll tell me if my schedule is too crazy. You need time to relax. You can’t say yes to everything.”

For “Godzilla,” he was in Atlanta for 10 months last year, then spent two weeks punching out “Long Shot” in Canada. “Godzilla,” he said, “used some of the biggest [CGI] screens I’ve ever seen!”

As soon as he’s finished pushing “Long Shot,” he’ll jump into promotion for “Godzilla,” including a trip to London with fellow “Godzilla” castmate Millie Bobby Brown of ”Stranger Things” fame. “She’s a future genius,” he said. “She’s future ruler of Hollywood. She’s just good at what she does.” 

He plays a chief warrant officer set to battle the Titans and gets a quick line in during the primary trailer. “It sucks to be a soldier in a Godzilla movie,” he said, chuckling. “It’s a stressful job. And speaking as a human in a Godzilla movie, there’s no time to get too deep into the character. The star is Godzilla. We humans are all co-stars.”

***

Side note: He had a funny story about how he got the role in “Igrid Goes West.”

“I was at an awards show presenting and Aubrey Plaza was there. I was heading over to her but some old ladies wanted pictures. I didn’t get to talk to her. So I go on Twitter, saying I was upset I didn’t meet Aubrey Plaza. She hits me up and follows me. We’re DMing. She wrote, ‘I got this movie. I need you to play my love interest. Can we set up a meeting?’ So we exchange numbers. I text her: “Hey! It’s Batman! I mean, Shea.” We set up a meeting at this weird speakeasy bar. She’s like, ‘You like the script?’ I’m like, ‘You never sent it to me!’ She then said, ‘Why did you call yourself Batman?’ ‘I’m Batman! That’s me!’ ‘Your dude in the movie is obsessed with Batman! I told the directors you said yes! So I said, f*** it. It was so perfect! The planets had aligned. I had to do it!”

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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