O’Shea Jackson Jr. made a striking film debut playing his father, O’Shea Jackson Sr., better known as Ice Cube, in the biopic Straight Outta Compton. It took nearly two years to see Jackson, Jr. on screen again. His second film, Ingrid Goes West, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Aubrey Plaza stars as Ingrid, a troubled woman who moves to Los Angeles to meet an Instagram celebrity (Elizabeth Olsen). Jackson plays Dan Pinto, Ingrid’s landlord and love interest. Pinto is an aspiring screenwriter, having written a Batman film even though he knows the studio controls the franchise. They have a love scene with Plaza playing Catwoman, and a lot of Batman Forever jokes.
Ingrid Goes West definitely shows Jackson’s comedic and romantic sides. Cinema Thread spoke with Jackson during Sundance about following up his landmark debut Straight Outta Compton, and all the Batman jokes in Ingrid Goes West.
cinemathread: How carefully did you choose your next film after Straight Outta Compton?
O’Shea Jackson, Jr.: I wanted to show something that was worlds apart. I didn’t want anyone to doubt in me that I can only play my father. I wanted to show my versatility as an actor that I can be the serious biopic actor or I can be the dark comedy/rom-com type dude. Ingrid Goes West is such a wide spectrum of what this movie shows that I feel like as an actor it was a home run.
CT: How did you develop your comedic reactions?
OJ: Oh, that’s just me. Matt [Spicer, the director]’ll tell you, on set I was always trying to lighten up the mood, trying to keep morale high and things like that. So if anything, I would say Dan Pinto, the character I play in Ingrid Goes West, that’s closer to me than you’ll be able to see years from now. Those long days, it’s all about keeping morale high on set. I would buy Wingstop for the whole crew. I would buy Krispy Kreme just so it’s a fun environment. Great morale makes great movies. The grips, the transport, the light, sound, they’re all just as important as we actors. Just making sure it’s more of a family environment because we’re all trying to make IGW, Ingrid Goes West, a masterpiece.
CT: Were a lot of the offers after Compton for more rap movies?
OJ: No, not as far as rap movies but more the heavy drama, the heavy “hood” films if you will. You don’t want to be typecast. That’s the last thing you want to be is, “Oh, you’re the guy who we go for for this role.” I want to be Black Pitt. That’s my goal. That’s what I’m setting out to be.
CT: Were you already a Batman fan?
OJ: Oh yeah, Batman is the only hero we really have. He’s the only one you can aspire to be. Everybody else is bit by something or some fantasy. Batman is just a dude who had some money, learned how to fight and gave a damn.
CT: Can you see Batman Forever being someone’s favorite?
CT: Which was you favorite Bale movie?
CT: Were you doing the Christian Bale voice in your Batman scene?
OJ: Oh yeah, you know, there are a couple of takes where I even gave a shoutout to Michael Keaton. I made sure that for Dan’s sake that I had all my Batman references down packed and ready to go.
CT: Did the Keaton reference make it in?
OJ: No, it was “Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moon light.” Shout out to Michael Keaton.
CT: Saying Jack Nicholson’s line back to him.
OJ: My shout out to Jack Nicholson was all the Laker gear.
CT: What I find interesting is nobody remembers how people rejected Batman Returns viciously. They wanted a lighter Batman more like the TV show so they made Batman Forever and everybody at the time loved it. Then two years later they make another silly ridiculous one and everyone rejected it.
OJ: The thing I’ve realized is the people don’t know what they want but they want it now.
CT: How crazy was the Catwoman sex scene with Aubrey Plaza?
OJ: It was amazing. I swear, one of the incentives of me picking this role was just so I could make out with Aubrey Plaza. First day because the director threw me an alley oop, I wasn’t expecting it but my first day of work was the restaurant scene and he’s like, “All right, it needs something. Kiss him.” We were off to the races from there. As you can tell, I love my time on IGW. Me and Aubrey have our little saying that yeah, we’re supposed to be Batman and Catwoman in this but we both know that we’re Joker and Harley.
CT: How much of the Ingrid experience have you experienced in L.A.?
OJ: Oh, for sure. There’s people making a fake Facebook for me right now. I constantly gotta get people’s fake pages of me taken down and things like that. People have gotten paid for appearances that I never showed up to. Things like that but it’s all about finding a balance with your social media. I never let people know my location or things like that. It’s a real life struggle to humanize yourself to your fans, and at the same time keeping your privacy. It’s definitely a real issue, the Ingrids out there, but just like the Ingrid we deal with in our film, it’s a deeper meaning to why they’re doing what they’re doing. Once you reach that, you might be able to find a solution.
CT: Do you go to the health food restaurants or hipster openings like they do in the movie?
OJ: I only eat healthy when they want me to get fit for a movie. I’m a Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, Fatburger, In n’ Out type dude.
CT: What’s next for you?
OJ: I’m currently filming Den of Thieves. It’s a heist movie. My man Gerard Butler is in it. My man Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson” is in it. I’m learning a bunch of military training and a lot of real heavy-ish just to center myself a little bit. I’m making sure that I pick the right films. While I’m this early in my career, something like Ingrid Goes West was a blessing to show my versatility as an actor, but now that I’ve stepped into this realm, I want to get back into the drama, to the serious action. Hopefully I’ll be three for three. The kid in me would love to just jump at everything but you have to make sure it’s the right move career-wise or you could start back at the bottom, back at ground zero. I already had the assumptions of me, of my character, so I’m trying to break out of that wall, break out of that box and show people that I’m not just an actor. I’m actually a filmmaker and I’m here to make great films. I’m ready to rock n’ roll.