5 of Ice Cube’s most iconic movie roles

By Stephen Aspeling22 November 2023

5 of Ice Cube’s most iconic movie roles

Born and raised in Los Angeles, hip hop and Hollywood star O’Shea Jackson Sr, better known as Ice Cube, has lived the dream. After making his mark with the controversial rap group N.W.A., he went on to spawn several successful solo rap albums. This part of his life is vividly captured in the critically acclaimed biographical drama Straight Outta Compton, starring his son O’Shea Jackson Jr. 

Starring in Boyz n the Hood, a crime drama named after his 1987 rap song, Ice Cube broke into Hollywood with brooding intensity and a menacing scowl that would become his trademark. While known for his gruff attitude, some have poked fun at his disarming rap name. Yet the origins are surprisingly violent, derived from his brother’s threat to slam him into the freezer and pull him out when he’d turned into an ice cube. 

Caught somewhere between the streets of South Central and mansions of Marina del Rey, Ice Cube’s hard-knock origins, paradoxical stage name and aloof screen presence has made him a constant curiosity. Having had many recurring film roles over the years, you can catch some of Ice Cube’s most iconic performances in movies now streaming on Showmax. 

1. Friday (Craig Jones) 

Friday on Showmax

When it comes to stoner comedies, Friday is right up there. The breakthrough movie stars Ice Cube and Chris Tucker as Craig and Smokey, unemployed slackers trying to get by in South Central. Having grown up in the same Los Angeles neighbourhood, the film’s observations are first-hand for Ice Cube who seems intent on sidestepping drug dealers, bullies and jobs. When the streetwise duo are forced to come up with $200, they’re catapulted into a series of misadventures to ensure they survive until the weekend. 

A cult classic with many quotable quotes, authenticity and passion shine through in this nostalgic ode to 90s hip hop and inner city life in South Central. Ice Cube and Chris Tucker’s star-making performances are followed by John Witherspoon, Bernie Mac and Tiny Lister Jr in iconic roles as an embarrassing dad, emphatic pastor and XXXL bully. Catch Ice Cube as stand-up comedian Mike Epps is tapped in and the slacker buddies try to “make ends meet” in Next Friday and Friday After Next

2. Fist Fight (Strickland) 

Fist Fight on Showmax

Ice Cube’s become known for being a tough guy… someone you don’t want to mess with. Not quite as mean as Danny Trejo in Machete but he’s seen things, bad things. Leaning into this gruff swagger, he plays Strickland, a no-nonsense teacher at Roosevelt High. When things get out of hand during a history lesson on Senior Prank Day, a retro AV system becomes the victim of his rampage. Called into the principal’s office after the incident, Strickland shirks the blame only to find himself serving his last day. Having been ratted out by a fellow teacher, it’s not long before the gauntlet is thrown down along with the challenge of a mano-a-mano after-school fist fight. 

Co-starring alongside Charlie Day, Fist Fight is a wild ride from the get-go, ramping up the tension with some crazy high school pranks to incur the wrath of a teacher just looking for any excuse to go ballistic. Hinging on Day’s character who’s doing everything in his power to hold onto his nuthouse job, the fun and madness of high school shenanigans fuels this comedy. Building the tension as the teachers prepare to face off, it’s all the more entertaining and enjoyable thanks to the parade of insane teachers and Ice Cube’s street cred.

3. Ride Along (James Payton)

Ride Along 2 on Showmax

Famous for his scowl and bad-ass attitude, Ice Cube needs a co-star to soften his rough edges. Adept at playing the straight man in comedy duos, he’s made a name for himself in buddy movies like Ride Along. Having made an unforgettable partner-in-crime to Chris Tucker in the stoner comedy, Friday, very few could possibly match the hilarity of the inimitable Tucker. That is, until Chris Hart came along. A charming and plucky stand-up comedian who’s the first to admit he’s heard every short joke imaginable, he makes an outstanding counterpoint to Ice Cube as the two butt heads. 

When James takes Ben under his wing to gain some day-in-the-life experience as a police officer, the Training Day wheels come off in style. A seasoned videogame campaigner, Ben’s knowledge of special ops weapons is remarkable but his security guard experience leaves him wanting when he’s forced to upskill on the beat in downtown Atlanta. A brother-in-law and officer of the law in training, James is a particularly tough nut to crack for Ben as the two riff quality banter and the missions escalate from training exercise to do-or-die. Reteaming for Ride Along 2 as Ben moves closer to becoming family, the pair show they’ve still got it.

4. Barbershop (Calvin Palmer Jr.) 

Barbershop:Next Cut on Showmax

Family and tight-knit communities have a special place in Ice Cube’s heart. Taking a page from his own life’s experiences, the beloved Barbershop franchise captures the many distinct personalities of this cultural hub that is Southside Chicago. Playing Calvin Palmer Jr, who’s struggling to keep his father’s business and legacy afloat, he recognises just how important the barbershop is in making a positive difference to the neighbourhood. 

An altruistic and devoted family man, Ice Cube brings charisma and passionate authenticity to Calvin as he navigates the daily grind. An advocate against police brutality and gun violence in real-life, Barbershop is more than just a movie, there to entertain and inspire positive change. Supported by a stellar ensemble with many scene-stealing performances, it’s Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas and Michael Ealy whose stars shine brightest. A funny, heartwarming and witty series, Barbershop is built around cast chemistry and camaraderie, carried through in Barbershop 2: Back in Business and Barbershop: The Next Cut

5. All About the Benjamins (Tyson Bucum)

All About the Benjamins on Showmax

When it comes to buddy action comedy All About the Benjamins, it really helps to know that Benjamin Franklin’s portrait dons the $100 bill. This isn’t about the Benjamin family. Starring Friday’s odd couple in Ice Cube and Mike Epps, the slick film journeys with an ill-tempered bounty hunter and jittery con artist who double team to track down diamond thieves and a lottery ticket for very different reasons. 

Aiming to channel the buddy movie charm of Bad Boys, Lethal Weapon and Rush Hour, All About the Benjamins finds Cube taking charge as the film’s action star Tyson Bucum with Epps there as motor mouth Reggie Wright. This film has old-school action comedy written all over it, harnessing a low-tech 70s style with exuberance and gusto at every turn. Sassy and sometimes sleazy, All About the Benjamins is an entertaining romp, elevated by Ice Cube’s charisma and trademark scowl opposite the nervy funny man, Epps.