You were incredibly successful as a rapper. What made you want to move into film?

I always look at myself as a trailblazer, you know what I mean? Somebody who’s going to be the first one in, to try something and hopefully, get other people turned on about what I do and try it ... For me, it was a natural progression after doing “Boyz ‘N the Hood.” Before that, I wasn’t thinking about doing acting.  I was just thinking about being the best MC in the world, you know. But after that [film,] I looked at all the potential of creating on a visual level. … Opportunities have presented themselves a lot and I’ve just taken advantage of them.

Lots of rappers go to Hollywood, but few can act. You’re a serious actor, and you’re good at it. Where did you learn how to do that?

I’ve been able to work with people like Lawrence Fishburn, Jon Voight – great actors. And what’s cool is, you know, I’m there and I get a chance to see them prepare and how serious they take it, and what goes into pulling off a great performance. I’m the type that you don’t have to tell me twice. Show me one time and I’ve got it. I had a lot of help for “Boyz ‘N the Hood” from Cuba Gooding Jr. They all helped me with, you know – hitting my marks, staying on camera. Little acting tips that, if somebody don’t tell you, it’ll look like you’re giving a bad performance. Tricks of the trade, like what you do on a close-up or a wide shot.

What do you do on a close-up and a wide shot?

I ain’t gonna tell you the way the guy told me. It’s kinda nasty. [But] as the camera gets closer to your face, you have to do more things to bring out your performance. As the camera gets wide, you can do less. Now, if somebody don’t tell you that, and you’re giving up your best performance on your wide and your worst performance when they get up here in your face, then it’ll look like a bad performance … It’s a way of pacing yourself.

What was it like for you to work with children in a movie? Did you learn anything from them?

Yeah – how to have fun. They was having a ball. They was always enthusiastic, even when it was raining and miserable looking outside. The director was all serious, trying to put this thing together, but the kids were having a ball with the whole process. That’s kind of what they taught me – to not be so technical and have a little fun.

Your character in the film doesn’t like kids. Can you relate to him?

No, I love kids.

You have four, don’t you?

Yeah, and I’m around kids all the time. But I was like that before I had kids. You know – the bachelor, into my little toys, not trying to get tied up. When I met my wife, she already had a son, so it was the same kind of situation [as the film.] Not two kids, but one, and a small baby, but the same situation.

How old are your kids?

4, 10, 13 and 18.

And you adopted your oldest son?

Yeah, and from then on, I was the family man (big grin).

You have been married for twelve years now…

Thirteen almost (proud smile).

Thirteen years – that’s pretty impressive, especially when so many marriages in the entertainment industry fail. We’ve just seen another big break-up in the media, with Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. How in the world do you make that happen?