John Singleton: The Hit [Outtakes From the July/August 2011 Issue]
Hip-hop hasn’t accepted too many Hollywood movies into its framework, but John Singleton’s Boyz N the Hood is one of them. Celebrating the movie’s 20th anniversary today (July 12), director Singleton talked to XXL about the film’s impact and influence on rap music, how he cast Ice Cube in the MC’s first acting gig ever and why plans to book N.W.A in supporting roles fell through. —Mark Lelinwalla
XXL: Did you ever think Boyz N The Hood would have the impact it has had on hip-hop culture?
John Singleton: The picture, when we made it, there was nothing like it at the time. I especially wanted to do it in Los Angeles… It was kind of a small, mini epic because the movie starts in 1984 and then goes all the way up to 1991. Like I said, that movie was really a personal movie. A lot of heart, soul, and love went into it.
Looking back, what was your goal for the movie at the time?
My goal at the time was to make a good movie and hopefully have a career as a director.
How did you go about casting Ice Cube as Doughboy way back then?
It was a no-brainer, ya know. I’m the one who convinced him to have a career as a rapper… The first movie I was able to have exactly the people I wanted in the movie. I wrote that part for (Ice) Cube for Doughboy. I wanted Lawrence Fishburne to be Furious from the get go. Those were the only two people that I knew in entertainment that were actually doing something in entertainment and, you know, they graced me with being in the picture.
Looking back, the cast was pretty impressive,. Who didn’t you get that you wanted to cast?
It was supposed to be N.W.A. The guys all around Cube were going to be N.W.A… Dre used to tell me, “You got to come up with one of those big ideas again.” That’s what he’d tell me. I remember when I was working on the script I was still in school and stuff and I knew Cube, but I didn’t know everybody else.
Have MCs ever personal told you how the movie influenced you?
The only rapper that told me anything that stood out about the movie was Cube. When we were on the set of doing that movie and in the middle of production off of Slauson (Avenue), Cube turned to me and was like, “This movie is gonna be big.” I was like, “We’ll see. As long as our people like it, we’ll be alright.” He was like, “Man, I think there’s going to be a whole lot of people. I think a whole lot of people are going to like it.” Cube was right! (Laughing). I just thought if just the people in the streets love it, fine, because I always feel if you make something really authentic everybody steals it on some type of level. They may not like it or may like it, but they’re gonna feel it and that’s what I go for when I make movies.