Boyz n the Hood is a classic film of the ’90s, garnering Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. But when Ice Cube, who plays Doughboy, first saw it, he thought it was a disaster. He shared the story on the latest episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast.
It begins with the script: Cube didn’t understand why they were making a movie like this one.
"When I first read it, I couldn’t believe that they were going to make a movie about how we grew up," he began. "I’m like, ‘Is this movie-worthy?’ Because when you [live] in it, you don’t think nobody give a damn about you or what’s happening to you or what you’re going through on a day-to-day basis. So to see Columbia [Pictures] want to put money behind a movie about what you live every day … I was just curious. Like, ‘Why?’ I just didn’t believe our story was movie-worthy."
This was Cube’s first movie, and he wasn’t prepared to see a rough cut.
"We did that movie, and it was my first movie. First movie ever," Cube said. "And [director] John [Singleton] showed me the movie before it was done, and if you ever see a movie before it’s finished, you will say, ‘This is garbage.’ It’s just unfinished, unpolished. It’s like seeing a room right after they build it, but they don’t put furniture [in] or paint [on it]. You’re just like, ‘What is this shit?’ That’s kind of how I looked at it. I was so mad."
Cube thought he’d made a huge mistake, and that his movie career would end before it could even begin.
"I left, called my manager, [and] said, ‘I shouldn’t have did this. I shouldn’t have did this.’" Cube said. "She said, ‘Was it that bad?’ I said, ‘It didn’t have no music, there wasn’t no sounds, it felt flat.’ You got to put all those sound effects in a movie. When a guy puts a cup down, you have to actually put that sound in there or you won’t hear it. You’ll see it but you won’t hear it. So I was just disappointed. And I didn’t want to have nothing to do with Boyz n the Hood. I was like, ‘Damn. Mistake, mistake, mistake.’ And John kept saying, ‘Let me finish it. Will you let me finish it?’ I said, ‘OK, alright, alright.’"
The film was set to debut at the Cannes Film Festival. But there’s no way a French audience could like this, right?
"So I didn’t see it [again] until we went to the Cannes Film Festival," Cube said. "I’m like, ‘We’re going to show this to a French audience?’ I went because as a career move, you go. But I’m like, ‘We’re going to show this to a French audience, man.’ For one thing, the subject matter, they’re not going to get what the hell a 64 is and ‘Go get the 40’ and all this. And the movie is flat. But when I saw it [at Cannes], it was completed. And it just blew me away. It had subtitles, though, because it was for the French. I’m like, ‘I love the movie but these people probably hate this.’ And they gave it a standing ovation at the end. They just jumped up and clapped. Eddie Murphy was there, and Quincy Jones. I was like, ‘This is going to blow up. This is, like, the best thing I ever did.’"
Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.