Ice Cube is no stranger to playing a character with a short fuse. Even when starring in comedies, the famous musician-turned-actor is well known for taking on roles that have some anger issues that they should probably work on sorting out. His latest part in the new movie Fist Fight, a teacher named Mr. Strickland, is familiar in this way, but according to the actor, it was something new for him to play. This is particularly because Ice Cube saw it as an opportunity to play a guy with really justifiable rage, legitimately fighting against a system in desperate need of changing.
Prior to Fist Fight opening this past weekend, I had the pleasure of hopping on the phone to talk with Ice Cube about the new comedy earlier this month -- and right at the start of the conversation we talked about what made the part different than his previous movies. I asked about working on the character of Strickland and figuring out what makes him tick, and after comparing the role to another one of his most notable parts, he explained why he felt his latest was special. Said Cube,
It was just to try to make him different than Captain Dickson from 21 Jump Street, you know... like 'Angry Black Guy.' I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where this guy coming is from, you know? What makes him tick? Why is he pissed? And you know, he's just kind of fed up with the school system. He's fed up with soft kids who can't take nothing, all they can do is dish it out. And so that was my work to make this a real guy, and not just a caricature.
Given the world that Strickland finds himself working in, it's not super challenging to discover why it is that he is so crazy angry at the world. Being a teacher, he has what should be one of the most rewarding careers on the planet, but instead he is surrounded by a failing administration and indolent teenagers who don't want to do any work. When we first meet Strickland in Fist Fight, it becomes clear that he learned many years ago that one of the only effective ways to get through to his students is to completely scare the crap out of them. This is certainly something that he does on a regular basis, though in the movie he does wind up taking his rage to the next level when he gets caught in a complicated situation with one of his co-workers, played by Charlie Day.
So while Fist Fight may not have been an opportunity for Ice Cube to really flex his wings and try something completely different than what he's done before, it was a chance for him to really work on a character and fully understand where it is that he's coming from. You can see the final result of his work in theaters now, with the new comedy arriving in cinemas nationwide this past Friday, and be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more from our conversation with the star!