When John Singleton wrote and directed his 1991 film “Boyz n the Hood,” there was no grandiose cinematic inspiration or abstract muse. Instead, the Los Angeles native just wrote about what he knew best.
“My biggest influence for making the film was my friends, my friends growing up, and how Los Angeles was in the ’80s and ’90s,” Singleton told MTV News. “None of the movies that we saw growing up had anybody, any characters in them that were like us. So we were like, ’We should make a movie about what we go through, about what we see.’ ”
Released on July 12, 1991, “Boyz n the Hood” was nominated for two Academy Awards and is hailed as a classic 20 years later. On July 19, the film will be re-released in Blu-ray. The movie’s impact doesn’t seem to surprise Singleton much; he kind of always knew things would turn out this way.
“I was like, ’Wow if I can get this in a film, a little bit of what this is, that life on film, then I think I’ll have something that will have a hard effect on people,’ ” he recalled.
The film, starring Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut and Laurence Fishburne, is set in South Central, Los Angeles, a California neighborhood notorious for gang violence. At the center of the film is Tre Styles (Gooding Jr.), who tries to balance his father’s (Fishburne) life lessons with the harsh realities of the ’hood in which he lived. Then there are half-brothers Doughboy (Cube) and Ricky Baker (Chestnut), two characters who couldn’t be more different. Doughboy, a stone-cold gangster, has street respect but very few prospects. His brother Ricky, however, is a young father and a star high school football player fielding sports scholarships from multiple colleges. In the end, Ricky’s bright future is brought to a dark close when he’s gunned down in an alleyway.
Noted for its social message, “Boyz n the Hood” also marked the acting debut of rapper Ice Cube , who has gone on to star in movies like “Friday” with comedian Chris Tucker and “Anaconda” alongside Jennifer Lopez. Cube has also written, directed and produced a number of films as well. “I knew Ice Cube was a movie star before he knew he was a movie star,” Singleton said. “He just embodied that role and did a great job.”
In fact, the director had a vision — not just for Cube, but for all the members of his former group as well. “The script was originally written for all of N.W.A. The character Doughboy was always meant for Ice Cube, but the whole script was written for all of the N.W.A guys to be in it,” Singleton revealed.
Unfortunately, the casting didn’t go as planned, and years later, Dr. Dre expressed a bit of regret. “It’s funny, because when I told Dre that later on, he said, ’Man, if you got any great ideas, you come to me again, you come to me,’ ” Singleton said with a chuckle.
When asked why he thought the film holds up after 20 years, John Singleton offered this: “I think people are still talking about ’Boyz n the Hood’ because it’s part of who they are. Even if they’re not from that environment, they really identify with those characters. Ultimately, the movie is kind of like a teenage story, it’s a teenage coming-of-age movie. People watch that movie and say, ’Wow, look at the journey of these characters,’ and then they think about their own journey.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Boyz n the Hood.”
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