For years, it’s been reported that the Ice Cube turned down the Poetic Justice role Tupac Shakur ended up accepting, but up to this point, fans never heard the reasoning from Ice Cube himself. Now, nearly 30 years after the movie hit theaters, they’ve heard the answer straight from the source.
During a “Big Boy’s Neighborhood” interview that premiered today (June 30), Cube explains that there is one particular scene in the film that caused him to reject a role in the project, which also stars Janet Jackson.
“I turned down the Tupac role in Poetic Justice,” Cube says. “[Poetic Justice Director John Singleton] hit me up, he was gonna give me pay, too.”
Singleton, who passed away in 2019, offered Cube the role, but was reluctant to let the rapper-actor read the script. Eventually, Singleton gave in and Ice Cube got to read the script. Cube didn’t love what he ended up reading.
“He didn’t wanna change it, so I didn’t wanna do it,” Cube remembers. “The problem was, me playing Tupac, I don’t think I’d kick my homeboy out the car for a girl I just met when we got to Oakland. I didn’t think that was cool. It kinda made the character a sucker to me.”
The scene Cube appears to be referring to is one that saw Tupac’s character—a mail carrier/aspiring rapper named Lucky—attacks his friend Chicago for hitting Janet Jackson’s character, Justice. Justice had kicked Chicago in the groin because he had hit his romantic interest, Iesha (played by Regina King), in the face. After Lucky beats up Chicago, he, Justice and Iesha leave the scene, and Chicago is left to take the bus home.
Elsewhere in the interview, Cube says that he had been in to talk about playing the role of O-Dog in Menace II Society. Because he didn’t want to be typecast—he’d played a gun-toting street guy in Boyz n The Hood a year prior—he says he decided against taking on the role, though it’s unclear whether he was ever officially offered it.
Nonetheless, Cube goes on to say that he Shakur and Larenz Tate, the latter of whom played the role of O-Dog in Menace, did a great job in their respective roles and he’s happy with how things turned out. Watch Ice Cube speak on his potential movie roles starting at the 48:50 mark below.