Once "Are We There Yet?" director Brian Levant saw Long and Ice Cube together, he completely understood why Ice Cube had suggested Long for the role. For his part, Ice Cube couldn't be happier to be reunited with Nia Long. "First off, Nia is a hell of an actress. That was obvious the first time we worked together and so was our rapport. She's cool people and so right to play a working mother," says Ice Cube.
In "Are We There Yet?," Nia Long plays Suzanne, a single mother with two overly protective kids. Bound and determined to not let anyone replace their father, the kids (played by Aleisha Allen and Philip Bolden) come up with trick after trick to try and stop any eligible bachelor from getting too close to their mom. Ice Cube plays Nick Persons, the owner of a sports memorabilia store who has worked his way into Suzanne's life. When she's suddenly called out of town on business, Nick volunteers to chaperone the kids from their home in Portland, Oregon to Suzanne's job site in Vancouver. Too late, Nick discovers he's volunteered himself for the road trip from hell.
INTERVIEW WITH NIA LONG ('Suzanne'):
How was working with Ice Cube again?
It was good. We did an interview together just before this and I cant believe its actually been 15 years since Boyz n the Hood. We were just saying you dont realize how much impact youve had on Hollywood and filmmaking, especially when you talk about the sort of beginning of black films that have become now classics.
Im really proud of him because hes sort of taking the leadership position and hes really capitalizing on his opportunities. Obviously, I got a job because of the position that hes in, and the fact that wed worked together before. And hes just like real easy to be around. Theres no ego and theres no diva-ness and he loves kids. Or divo isnt that like a new word now? Theres just none of that. Its all positive and its all good. I was happy to be a part of this, I really was. It was nice to work with him after all those years.
Your character puts up with a lot from her kids. Its kind of hard to believe a single, working mom would tolerate so much. How did you deal with that aspect of this character?
I know it, especially not a black mama. Black mamas? Come on! I mean, I started time out [with my son] when he was two. But time out does not work, I dont care what Dr. Phil says. It does not work (laughing).
I think when you seriously take a look at the storyline, these are two children that are desperately trying to get their parents back together and so theyre pulling whatever tricks [they can]. Theyre desperate. Theyre doing whatever they think can be done. Theyre making the attempt to keep this guy away from their mom. And kids will be kids. I know I was bad when my mom wasnt around, you know? Its kind of the nature of children.
Would you tolerate your son behaving like these kids?
...My son hes hysterical. He just turned four and he knows everything. Mommy, no. You need to do it like this. Mom, I like your hair. That lipsticks really pretty. Everything he just is very [clear about]. I have a very physical boy, like a 'boy' boy who Im there doing my make-up and he comes and jumps on my back. Hes just very physical and you dont want to break their spirit. You want to give them that room to be bad. You want to give them that room to, If you jump off the side of a bathtub and the floors wet, youre going to slip and you might break something. But to constantly be there to tell him, No, no, no, no, youve got to give them room to make their own mistakes. Thats the only way adults learn. But he also knows that when I mean no, I mean no.
Your character makes a decision to let her kids go with a stranger on this road trip. What do you think about that decision?
That was major for me and I had lots of long discussions with [director Brian Levant] about that because Im a single mom. I thought I would have to be really, really, really, really comfortable especially with a guy to leave my son. The one thing is that theyre obviously older in the film than my own child. And I said, But how are we going to justify this? I think what really helped is that whole montage of him picking me up, dropping me off, picking me up, so that it let you know that we had spent time together. I thought that was a really great way to sort of show that he was dependable. He was there when she needed him.
I think every mom has been in the situation where she just feels completely desperate. Shes really like, Okay, what can I do to Im in a situation and I need help so what can I do? So married, single, whatever, every moms been there.