Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Naturi Naughton, Ice Cube and Terry Crews Interview LOTTERY TICKET

     August 18, 2010

In the comedy Lottery Ticket, Kevin Carson (Bow Wow) is a young man living in the projects and working at a local Foot Locker, until he wins $370 million in the lottery, causing everyone to suddenly want a piece of him. Kevin quickly learns that his longtime friends Benny (Brandon T. Jackson) and Stacie (Naturi Naughton), his grandmother (Loretta Devine) and the reclusive Mr. Washington (Ice Cube) may be the only ones with his best interests at heart.

During a recent press conference for the film, co-stars Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Naturi Naughton, Ice Cube and Terry Crews talked about how much fun they had making Lottery Ticket together, what they would do if they won $370 million and how money can change people. Check out what they had to say after the jump:

Question: Bow Wow, you seem to have won the lottery in your own life, at a very young age. How did your life change, when that happened?

Bow Wow: Most definitely, there are a lot of things that I can relate to in Kevin. I didn’t notice that, as we were filming, until afterwards when I saw the movie and I was like, “Yo, that’s crazy!” When you make it from nothing to something, your life does drastically change overnight. You get people who you haven’t spoken to in years that want to contact you. You might have that one ex that didn’t like you, and now she wants to come back in the picture. It was very real. It was definitely fun playing Kevin because there are so many similarities that I can relate to, just dealing with the pressure. A lot of people don’t understand that, when you’re in that position, it’s a lot of pressure on you because everybody is watching and everybody wants a piece. It’s up to you to keep your friends tight. The one thing I love about the film is that it preaches the importance of friendship, loyalty and trust, and hopefully a lot of people can leave with that when they see the movie.

Ice Cube, can you talk about the process of developing your characterization of Mr. Washington? Were there particular challenges in playing a character who is quite a bit older than you?

Ice Cube: My father was wondering why I kept watching him, looking at his mannerisms. He caught me looking at him sometimes and said, “What the hell is this boy looking at?” But, I was trying to pull his energy, and my uncles’ energy. I just remember older cats pulling me aside and telling me what I need to do to be a man in this world. What I didn’t want was to play a dude who was 70, that lost his swagger. The old dudes that I know still got their swagger. They don’t lost it. I just wanted to draw from these people that have been instrumental in my life, and I couldn’t wait to play him. I was ready to get out of the box and play something a little different than what everybody has seen.

Terry, with a cast like this, how difficult was it to get through a take without laughing?

Terry: There were a lot of those moments. I call this the urban, funny Expendables. It’s all-star. Everybody in it is major. We had a ball. I remember getting with Erik [White] and saying, “Man, let’s make this one of those classics.” In my career, I started out with Cube in Friday After Next, and I always stay in the urban comedy genre because it just never gets old. It’s one of those things that people watch, again and again. This is that kind of movie. It gives you longevity. People come up to me and they just love these characters, and Jimmy the Driver is a character that everybody is going to like, continue to like and want to see again. It’s just been a ball. We were laughing and having a great time, shooting it in Atlanta. There was just a buzz with Bow Wow and Brandon. They really led the charge, all the way, and it just felt like a family.

Naturi, what was it like to do a kissing scene with Bow Wow, since you guys are such good friends?

Naturi: We are friends and I’ve known Bow Wow since I was a teenage in the business myself. Having a kissing scene with him was actually very professional. He’s such a pro. Kudos to him, for just being great in the scene. That scene took forever, but it came out so great. We put in the work, we were professionals and I was working with someone I respect and know that I’ve had a friendship with. It’s a lot easier. It’s not weird. You just say, “All right, we’re about to kiss, so don’t be puttin’ your tongue down my throat. Make sure you don’t grind on me.” Other than that, it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it. We had to keep doing another take.

What is an Ice Cube set like?

Ice Cube: Let me just say that it was an Erik [Davis] set. We just were there to make sure he could get his vision off and we could help him do it, and put a little two cents in there, that’s all.

Brandon, do you like to improv a lot?

Brandon: Yeah, I like to improv a lot and it was a blessing that Erik [Davis] allowed us to have that freedom with the whole script. It was a good time. Working with Bow and Naturi and everybody was a blessing. It was creative freedom. There was chemistry and we just had a good time.

Ice Cube, you’ve been in the business for 20 years now. Do you see yourself among this talented young cast?

Ice Cube: Yeah, I see myself. When you’re 70, you don’t have to lose your swagger, and I don’t expect to lose mine anytime soon. It’s a good thing to just do things that people enjoy, especially when they ask you to do it, over and over again. You try to deliver something new, every time. It feels good to still be in the mix, doing my thing, having fun with it and growing my company. We’ve had a lot of great people to work with. Matt Alvarez did a lot of the heavy lifting on Lottery Ticket. And, we just continue to grow.

Bow Wow, which of your albums do you think best defines you?

Bow Wow: This movie describes me. I’m not even in album mode at all right now, to be totally honest. It’s all about Lottery Ticket right now. I’ve been wearing the shirt every day. I’m on this campaign. As of right now, that’s all I’m focused on. It’s unfair to my fans and my castmates for me to talk about anything other than this. All I’m focused on right now is Lottery Ticket. I’ve been going heavy on Twitter about Lottery Ticket. I always take one step at a time and, right now, this is on my agenda to make sure this is the #1 movie, come the following Monday. That’s all I’m worried about right now.

Terry, you have one of the best scenes in The Expendables. Do you think people will be surprised with your performance in Lottery Ticket, if they expect you to be the bad-ass protector?

Terry: Oh, man, look at my career. I’ll do anything. I was talking to Erik about doing this movie, and the whole thing about the ‘hood is that it’s all about posturing and tough guys, but when all that stuff is peeled away, that’s what makes people identify with you. With Jimmy, it’s so funny because people can go, “Okay, that’s the real brother.” It’s really good because they can see the stuff in The Expendables one week, and then see what happens in this movie, which actually makes this funnier. It’s really a great opportunity. I just love playing all these different characters. It’s really satisfying, and these guys set it up so well. I’m happy with the great twists in the movie.

Naturi, with this being your third feature film, is the process getting any easier for you?

Naturi: I’m an extremely hard worker, so the process just gets more and more challenging. Being able to go from different films has been great. Everything I’ve done so far has been totally different. To be with this amazing cast in a comedy just makes me grow, as an actress. From film to film, I realize my strengths and my weakness, and I realize how much better I get. I learn the lingo, I ask questions and I’m on set trying to figure out which shots they’re going to use. For me, it’s exploring the art. It’s not just making a movie. I’m enjoying the interaction, the chemistry, the cameraman. Everything about it helps me grow, as an actress. Being on my third film, and being lucky enough to be in Lottery Ticket as my third film, is a true blessing. I have never had so much fun. I learned so much. I actually got my comedic timing up, being around all those people, because they are so fun. I loved being able to just enjoy the chemistry with people on set. It keeps me growing, as an actress. It’s a lot of fun.

Terry, you have your sitcom and two films in theaters. How does it feel to have all of that happening right now, and how do you balance that with your family?

Terry: It’s surreal. This is a dream life. For all intents and purposes, I really should not be sitting here right now. I can’t even say it’s ‘cause of how cool I am and how great it is. This stuff is really given to you. It’s bestowed. I was blessed to have Cube give me a job, when I started out in Friday After Next. It was an opportunity of a lifetime. My thing is to really just be a good steward of every opportunity. You’re high and it’s running good, and then eventually it goes down. I have my family, and that’s one thing that helps me balance. I know that my family is always there for me. But, I’m going to take it. As it’s coming, I’m taking it, and I’m just getting started. I can’t wait to do the sequel, Jimmy’s Revenge.

Ice Cube, you’ve gone from NWA to Boyz in the ‘Hood to family films. Do you feel like you’ve come full circle?

Ice Cube: I don’t know if I want to come full circle. I just want to keep going forward, and just keep doing what feels good and right. I feel like I’m a filmmaker, and ‘hood comedies are our specialty. People love them, so why should I not do them because I want to do something hard? I really use my records to have the freedom of that, but my movies are for the audience. We do them for everybody to enjoy them. If people want to see more family fare, that’s what we’re gonna give them. We gonna be good at it, and we’re gonna try to be better than everybody else. We’re gonna find new talent. There’s a lot of untapped talent in our community and our world. People who don’t really get a big shot, I want to give them a big shot. That’s how I live, and we’ll keep going forward, and not worry about what happened in the rearview mirror.

Will you guys be doing anything together for the soundtrack?

Bow Wow: Nowadays, you really don’t see soundtracks anymore. It was big for them to even bless me with the opportunity to even do that. I didn’t want to just do it alone. I wanted to bring my castmates with me, so that’s why when I actually did the record for “My ‘Hood,” I wanted to make sure Erik [Davis] directed the video. It only made sense ‘cause he did the movie. And then, I wanted Naturi and Brandon in it, and all my castmates. I wanted Cube and Terry in it, but they just wasn’t available at the time. It definitely plays a big part.

Ice Cube, when you first became very successful, did your friends change and want something from you?

Ice Cube: The first thing they tell you is, “Don’t change.” But, what you realize is that you don’t change that much. It’s everybody around you. You find yourself alienated. Everybody is talking about you before you get there, and you can feel it. It’s a whole different thing. Everybody that wants to be successful should always be careful of what you wish for. A lot of artists and entertainers want to put the genie back in the bottle and wish they could go back to being what they were. It’s not like that, so you’ve got to make that adjustment. What I decided was that, who was cool with me before I made the money was going to be cool with me now. Who wasn’t cool with me before I made this, I’m giving them problems all the time, like I was before. I was all, “Don’t get nice on me now!” That’s how I approached it. I just made sure I stayed myself. I didn’t want to go Jack-in-the-Box. I just wanted to stay myself. That’s what I did and it all worked out. We’ll live. This is a good problem to have.

Ice Cube, why a first-time director for this film?

Ice Cube: We work with a lot of first-time directors. We always have and probably always will. We like the collaborative spirit of first-time directors. I think we do well with them.

Brandon, can you talk about what it was like to do the dramatic work that you did in this film?

Brandon: This is going to sound so corny, but I used to watch a lot of Disney movies when I was a kid. Aladdin used to look over the skyline at what he could have. I didn’t want Benny to just be funny. I wanted him to represent the kid who really wants to do more, but he can’t because of his current situation of being in the projects. It’s not his fault, but it’s his birthright and what he was born with, so I tried to embody that. If you look at the film, when you see the projects, everybody is poor, but you look over and there’s a big skyline of richness, and you’re like, “Why can’t we just go past this block?”

In that one scene, I tried to embody that for every kid that feels like they want to get out. That’s what I was trying to do. I talked to some of my cousins and listened to what they would say, and they were like, “We just can’t control it. We can’t eat.” It makes no sense that we’re in America and some people just can’t eat. That’s bad. They have to depend on the government to eat. So, I just felt it, and then I tried to get mad at Bow Wow, but it’s hard to get mad at him because he’s got those hazel eyes and he’s nice. He’s a cool dude, so I had to try to find reasons to get mad at him in that scene. It was nuts. That was two hours, but it was a good time, though.

Do you see this film as a comedy or a drama?

Ice Cube: I think it’s just a great movie. When you have a good movie, it’s hard to categorize it. It’s everything. It makes you laugh, makes you cry and makes you think. We’ve got a funny movie, but it’s a great movie too.

What’s the best check that you’ve written, since you made your money?

Ice Cube: I get good checks. I don’t know if writing them is ever good.

Terry: I was able to write a check to pay off my sister’s school bills. She’s a lawyer now. She’s an attorney and doing all that stuff. That felt really good. She is working with me, so it’s great. It’s all family business. That made it all worth it.

If you won $370 million, what would you do with it?

Naturi: That’s hard. That’s a lot of money. It’s too much. For me, I’m from Jersey and I grew up in the ‘hood. I might just be like, “Oh, Jesus!” I really don’t know what I would do, but I know I would want to do something great.

Brandon: Honestly, one of my favorite movies is Titanic, so I would order Leonardo DiCaprio to the ‘hood in Detroit, and I would have him re-enact it. I really don’t know what I would do. That’s too much money for one man to have, so I would just give back or give it away. The message in the movie says what we should do with it, but I don’t know.

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