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Q&A with ‘Long Shot’ star O’Shea Jackson

May 4, 2019

“Long Shot,” starring Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen, opens in theaters this weekend. The hilarious political comedy also co-stars O’Shea Jackson as Rogen’s best friend who helps him find courage and confidence.

Jackson was recently in Chicago to promote his film and Chuck Koplinski and I had a chance to sit down and talk with the son of Ice Cube, the infamous rapper turned actor, and what he hopes to do in the film industry.

Chuck Koplinski (CK): You have a passionate love for cinema. What is it about cinema that speaks to you?

O’Shea Jackson (OSJ): I just love the art of storytelling. I love the fuel to someone’s fire that the arts can be. Movies and films, they can motivate you to new heights and I love the idea of being the person to create that world not so much playing it, the acting thing I’m kinda making that work, but I’m a writer at heart. It’s a powerful thing, the arts.

CK: Who are your major influences?

OSJ: The Coen Brothers. You know, right now Jordan Peele, he’s inspiring the nation. And of course my dad. My dad is the hardest worker I know. His work ethic and watching him grind out scripts my whole life.

Pamela Powell (PP): You play Seth Rogen’s best friend and I really believed it! How did you create that chemistry?

OSJ: [Chuckling] Well, you know sometimes cool people think they’re cool. It’s just like you know, Seth Rogen, I’ve always been a fan of his work and all of his films so it was an acting bucket list, you know, just one of those things to check off. And he’s a super cool guy, super chill, made me feel welcome, made me feel a part of the family and he’s got a great, wide range of musical knowledge. He’s a super smart dude and his dog is named Zelda. He’s a trustworthy guy! After that, that’s it!

PP: My dog’s name is Charlie Parker, is that OK?

OSJ: Mine is Pete! [Laughs]

CK: “Long Shot” is a comedy on the surface, but beneath it, it says you can’t be yourself if you run for office. What do you think this says about our world today?

OSJ: We make sure that we aren’t a super political movie. The world that we’re in is a super political world and Jonathan Levine, he’s our director, he does a great job of balancing the key points that he wants to get across with the light-hearted comedy.

Being yourself, is what I think is the underlying meaning or what the message is in “Long Shot.” Seth’s character has to find the confidence in himself and build on his own self-esteem to be even able to speak to Charlotte ... It speaks to have self confidence and self awareness.

PP: So, would you ever run for office? [Laughing]

OSJ: Oh, no! It is so stressful. I hear the Lakers are looking for a president.

CK: So you’d never put yourself under that kind of scrutiny.

OSJ: Oh, no, you see I love Shea. I wouldn’t try to hurt him or give him grey hairs too early. That White House, it brings it out! [Laughs]

PP: Take us behind the scenes with Charlize and was she intimidating?

OSJ: I was for sure nervous to meet Charlize.

PP: I would be, too.

OSJ: She’s like Hollywood royalty and you’ve got to be on your toes a little bit. She was so chill. First day of work, she came in and sat next to me at catering, eating lunch, just making me feel welcome.

Her and Seth are producers on the film so they just made me feel a part of the team. They wanted me to shine. [They said,] ‘We picked you for a reason. Don’t shy away from that.’ And this early in my career. It’s important to get those moments, so I’m thankful to the both of them. They definitely should hire me again! I can say that! [Laughs]

CK: What did you learn from being on set with your father?

OSJ: Everybody has a job to do. A movie set is like a nice watch. As an actor, you’re the face of the watch, but the gears and everything that has to go into making a film, everybody’s focused on their job. The sound guy, lights, grips, they’re all focused on what they have to do in making sure they’re at the top of their level. So make sure you as an actor, that’s all you’re focused on.

Don’t worry that you’ve got a bunch of faces watching you because you’re doing films, millions are going to see them. Don’t worry about these several in one room. And then just focus and realize that as one group you try to make the best project possible.

PP: You do shine in this role, it’s not huge, but you do shine.

OSJ: You’ve gotta steal it!

PP: What’s you’re ultimate goal in filmmaking?

OSJ: I definitely want to hit it from all sides. While I’m in my supporting roles, I make sure I demolish them! Make sure that I go to the best of my ability. My biggest inspiration while I’m doing my supporting acting is Han Solo. Everybody loves Luke Skywalker. Luke Skywalker’s the man, he’s the hero, but is he cooler than Han? You’ve got to be Han Solo until they give you a couple of Indiana Jones.

I’m ready to get into a position where I can give others opportunities. In film, there are so many people with talents that just don’t get the door opened for them ... so I want to get to the point where I can give others opportunities and I don’t have to audition anymore. [Laughs]

PP: How do you find those doors to open for others?

OSJ: It’s just about what you know that you would have wanted at a certain time. I know early in my career with the things that I’m writing, a couple of meetings that I would like to get into, I’ve got to be a little more famous to get. So you know, just trying to be an earlier step for people so they don’t have to jump through certain steps that you had to.

CK: Talk about your upcoming film “Godzilla.” That had to be a different filmmaking experience.

OJ: Definitely the biggest film I’ve ever been on. They’re really blowing stuff up at work. It’s really crazy and like 18-hour days and we filmed it in Atlanta and there’s a lot of arctic scenes and it doesn’t really get too arctic there. It was definitely one of the most physically challenging roles.

“Den of Thieves” I had a lot of physical challenges with that one, but “Godzilla” makes you work for it and Mike Dougherty, the director of that, made the perfect monster movie. It’s monster Pay Per View and I can’t wait! As soon as I’m done relaxing with “Long Shot,” Godzilla’s right behind me.

Pamela Powell, Film Critic

The Daily Journal