The stars were out in Miami Tuesday night for the red carpet premiere of Ride Along, a new buddy cop movie starring Ice Cube, Kevin Hart and John Leguizamo that opens next weekend. Specifically, the stars were out on the second floor of the Regal South Beach cinema, over by the bathrooms and the snack bar thingy at the end. Not the big concessions stand but the small one. Keep walking. Yeah, up there on your left.
Hey, is that 2012 Miami New Times Best TV Host winner Roxanne Vargas? It sure is! Who's that crazy lady in the poodle curls and fur vest? It can only be magical insane person and entertainment periodista, Maria Salas. This must be a big premiere!
Check out our interviews below, including John Leguizamo shit-talking Night Court's John Larroquette and reminiscing about Miami back when he guest-starred on Miami Vice. The biggest comedian in the world right now, Kevin Hart, also chatted with Cultist about fatherhood and when he's going to record an embarrassing sad ballad like Eddie Murphy and Dane Cook before him. Then read on to find out if Ice Cube makes time for our carefully considered questions or if he treats us like "da police." (Spoiler: It's the latter.)
As Cultist waited in the press line, we chatted with NBC6's Roxanne Vargas, whose life has changed dramatically since being singled out by us as Best TV Host in 2012. In 2013, her new Six in the Mix show became a success and she gave birth to a human baby, all thanks to the New Times stamp of approval and having rubbed the Best Of issue over her previously vacant womb.
But 2012 was so 2013. It's 2014 and here comes John Leguizamo! John! John! How has Miami changed since your Miami Vice days?
"Oh wow, that was a long time ago," Leguizamo told us. "It was 1986. I was 19 years old back in the day. It's totally different, man. It was desolate here. I mean, it was fun because it was empty and you could go anywhere up and down Collins and you didn't have to wait. There weren't as many hotties as there are now, man. I mean girls wearing like just like a belt, I think, right? It's amazing. The eye candy is unbelievable."
When he visits Miami, he still visits some of his old haunts from those days.
His co-star, Kevin Hart, is riding high. Hart's Let Me Explain concert film premiered at Miami's American Black Film Festival last year and went on to become one of the top-grossing theatrically released standup movies of all time. Leguizamo, who has his fifth standup special for HBO, Ghetto Klown, coming out this spring, has seen the greats come and go. So is Kevin Hart going to go the way of the Diceman and Eddie Murphy, or is his future brighter than that?
"It's different," Leguizamo says. "A lot of those guys, they had too much of a gimmick that they relied on, and that stuff wears thin after a while. But Kevin, he's like my type of comedy. He comes from his own personal life. When it's yourself, that has longevity. You know, like Steve Martin, Robin Williams."
Leguizamo is the kind of versatile actor who can move effortlessly from comedy to Shakespeare. He was Tybalt in Baz Luhrmanm's Romeo + Juliet, starred in The Pest (based loosely on Coriolanus) and just shot Michael Almereyda's new version of Cymbeline.
"Michael's a genius," he told us, which we knew. Dude translates Russian futurist poetry in his downtime! It also stars Dakota Johnson, heiress to the Nash Bridges fortune, and who will be getting rosy cheeked in the Miami-shooting Fifty Shades of Grey film.
"She's incredible, man. I can't believe how great she is in the movie. And Anton Yelchin, Ethan Hawke is great. Ed Harris destroys it. I mean, you've got some serious -- I couldn't believe it. I was in a Dream Team situation. After we wrapped and were hanging out, I was like, I'm in this room with some heavy hitters. How did I get so lucky to be here?"
Leguizamo's not out of place in that group; he's got a lot of juice. So does John Larroquette ever call in restaurant reservations under Leguizamo's name and then claim the hostess misheard him when he shows up?
"He should," Leguizamo said. "He'd get a table quicker."
Trumpet fanfare! Here comes Kevin Hart!
In Ride Along, Hart plays a security guard who spends an intense 24 hours tagging along with Ice Cube's hard-nosed cop. If Cultist were to tag along with Kevin Hart for 24 hours, during which part of the day would he act differently so we wouldn't learn the truth about him?
"Act differently? I would let you see everything! That's what I did with Conan. Me and Cube took Conan on a great ride along," Hart said. And a great ride along that was, in which the trio caught a lift from a stranger using a smartphone app.
"We didn't change nothing about us," Hart continued. "I think you would love me more, by embracing what I do on a daily basis. You would fall in love with me."
It was already starting.
"What would probably be weird to you is seeing how amazing of a dad I am," Hart said. "I'm a kid with my kids. That time that I have when I actually have downtime, I'm no longer the dad, I'm the kid. From running all over with my kids, playing catch, tag, freeze tag, cops and robbers, fish out the bowl, shark in the tank, whatever it may be, I do what my kids love. That's what keeps me on my toes as a father and also what keeps my spirit strong."
His spirit is strong...for now. But a lot of the comics who have reached the massive level of success that Hart is at -- Eddie Murphy, Dane Cook -- they've all released these embarrassing ballads. What's Kevin Hart's going to be about?
"You won't see one," Hart assured us. "Because if you see one from me, that means I'm taking a step backwards. So I'm going to continue to step forward and I'm not going to release any music. I'm going to continue to go in the direction of film and standup comedy and that's it."
Phew! But let's take another look at those moonwalking nutters Eddie and Dane, shall we?
And now it was time to chat with Ice Cube. We had so many questions for the actor whose roles in the Are We There Yet? series cemented his reputation as his generation's finest getting-mad-while-driving performer. It's a mode of expression that reaches its apotheosis in Ride Along (we assume).
We would have loved to know what might most surprise NWA-era Ice Cube if he were to ride along for a day with 2014 Ice Cube. Unfortunately, Cube had said all he had to say to the world in his latest film. He looked Cultist in our one good eye and, nothing left to give, crumbled into a small mound of dust that then blew away. Here is the last known photograph of the late Ice Cube, talking with Roxanne Vargas:
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Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy motherfucking rest.
Ride Along opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, January 17.