Brandon T. Jackson, Ice Cube, Bow Wow, Naturi Naughton star in Warner Bros' 'Lotterty Ticket'

*Many people have different feelings about playing the lottery. To some people it’s just a waste of time and money. Yet to others, it’s the most exciting part of their day. From the 7-11 across the street to the bodega across the country, every urban dweller knows one simple fact: from 4 o’clock to about 6, depending on your location, stay out of the store unless you’re fond of long lines.  That’s the bewitching hour, so to speak, for the lottery ticket bum rush.  

With “Lottery Ticket” director Erik White and co-star/executive producer Ice Cube have tapped into that “strike it big” angst that takes hold in the ‘hood, especially when the jackpot gets really big! The film stars rapper-actor Bow Wow as Kevin Carson, a young man living in the projects who wins $370 million in a national lottery.  

Now he has to survive long enough to claim that prize. The film contains several scenarios we feel Bow Wow can most certainly relate to.  After all, before Snoop Dogg came a-calling he was living the life of just another kid with dreams of stardom.

“Most definitely there are a lot of things that I can relate to with Kevin,” he told EURweb. “I didn’t notice that while we were filming the movie but I did afterwards. It’s crazy but when you get something from nothing your life does drastically change overnight.  You have people that you haven’t spoken to in years that want to contact you, you might have that one ex that didn’t like you and now she wants to come back in the picture.  So, it was very real.

“But it was fun playing Kevin because there were just so many similarities that I could relate to like dealing with the pressure,” he continued. “I don’t think a lot of people understand because when you’re
in that position there’s a lot of pressure that’s on you because everybody’s watching, everybody wants a piece. It’s up to you to keep your friends tight. One thing I like about the film is it preaches the importance
of friendship, loyalty and trust. Hopefully a lot of people leave with that when they see the movie.”  

Bow Wow kept it real with that quote, but the “realness” doesn’t stop there.  Terry Crews is the film as well. If you didn’t know him, and had no idea of his humorous leanings, you would think he would ready to kick somebody’s tail.  But Crews loves to laugh.  He says each time he works with Cube, fans always relate to his characters.  In fact, he told reporters that there were so many of those moments he couldn’t recall not laughing during the shoot.

“It was a lot of those moments.  I like to call this the urban, funny ‘Expendables,’ (referring to the film he did with Sylvester Stallone, that’s also in theaters) it’s all star!” gushed Crews of the cast. “Everybody here is major.  I remember getting with Eric and saying lets make this one of those classics.  One thing in my career is I started out with Cube in “Friday After Next” … I always stay in the urban comedy genre because it never gets old.  It’s one of those things people watch time after time and it gives you longevity.  People come up to me and they just love these characters.  I think Jimmy the driver is one of those characters that everybody’s going to like, and continue to like, and want to see again.  It’s just been a ball. We were laughing and having a great time. Shooting it in Atlanta with Bow Wow and Brandon (T. Jackson), they really led the charge all the way. It just felt like a family.”

You know Ice Cube is rarely involved in an offering that he doesn’t play some sort of pivotal role in. Despite getting executive producer credits, Cube also stars in the film as Mr. Williams, a source-well of wisdom from which Bow Wow’s character Kevin drinks from time to time. He told reporters that he didn’t have to go far for inspiration either. The only thing he needed to do was visit his dear ol’ Dad.

“I know my father kept wondering why I was watching him and looking at all his mannerisms I know he caught me looking at him and saying ‘what the hell this boy looking at?’ I just wanted to capture his energy and that of my uncles. I remember when I was younger and older cats always pulling me aside and telling me what to do to be a man in this world. What I didn’t want was to play was a dude who was 70 who had lost his swagger. The old dudes that I know didn’t loose it. I just wanted to capture the energy of some of the older guys that were instrumental to me in my life. I couldn’t wait to play him. I was ready to get out of the box and play something a little different than what everybody had seen from me.”  

As is often the case with any urban, feel good comedy, this film’s protagonist has a love interest. Her name is Stacie, played by the lovely young Naturi Naughton. And, as also is the case with films in this genre, the good guys get the girl in the end and seals the deal with a kiss.  Naughton tells reporters what happened.  

“We are friends and I’ve known Bow Wow since I was a teenager in the business myself,” said Naughton. “But having a kissing scene with Bow Wow was very cool, very professional. He’s such a pro and it’s funny because, didn’t that scene take like forever?” she asked of Bow Wow.  “But that scene came out so great so, it’s like, you put in the work, you’re professionals and, to me, it’s like you’re working with someone that you’ve known in the past and have had a friendship with. It’s a lot easier.  It’s not weird where you’re like ‘Ohmigosh! We’re about to kiss!  Just don’t be putting your tongue down my throat.’

“Yeah, she did tell me that. I remember her saying ‘don’t go too hard’,” interjected Bow Wow.

If you have ever heard of director Erik White before then you are probably in the minority.  As is often the case, Ice Cube doesn’t appear to have any qualms about giving a talented brother a shot. White has directed
a few music videos in the past, but this is his big break.

“I’m thankful for just working with Cube and he’s such a professional and he’s got so many films under his belt, I just watched what he did and how he carried himself around this all-star cast throughout the shooting process. It was really laid back, really professional, everybody knew what they were doing and hit their marks.  So, for me, it was just letting them flow and just letting them do what they do naturally. Especially with Bow Wow. When I first talked to him about the film, I really wanted people to see the real Bow Wow. I really wanted him to draw from his own experiences and feelings. Coming up from being like a young child star to a superstar, I just wanted him to show the world that part of Bow Wow. He really came through. People are going to be surprised and really impressed with Bow Wow’s performance. It was just incredible.”

But White is not the only brother who is getting his big break. The screenplay is by Abdul Williams, who also helped write the story as well.  Here’s what he told reporters of his experience working with the script, and seeing the cast bring it to life.  

“Surreal, a dream come true. We’ve got an all-star cast and when you’re sitting in your office at 2 in the morning and trying to think ‘Is this joke funny?’ And then you hear it, and they expound on it and even
improvise and then take it to a level that you didn’t even think it could go to.  Then you see how the audience takes it when you hear them laugh, I can’t really describe how great that feels. It just validates all your years of hard work to try to get to this point. I just feel thankful and blessed.”  

“Lottery Ticket” opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, August 20 and also stars some familiar names and faces including Loretta Devine, T-Pain, Keith David, Charlie Murphy, Mike Epps and many others. For more information log on to www.lotteryticketmovie.com.