O’Shea Jackson Jr. steps out of the shadow, into the spotlight


Courtesy of IMDB

Charlize Theron and Seth Rogan in “Long Shot” as Secretary of State Charlotte Field and journalist Fred Flarsky.

When I first came across an image of O’Shea Jackson Jr. on the big screen in the box-office smash “Straight Outta’ Compton,” I couldn’t help but be reminded of evident comparisons to his father, the legendary Ice Cube. But this 28-year-old is so much more than just a shadow of his father’s image. His most recent acting work that is ushering him into the spotlight is his supporting role alongside Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron in the upcoming Lionsgate political comedy, “Long Shot.” The film follows Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen), a witty journalist whose demeanor undermines his talent in writing, who is hired as a speechwriter for Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), a no-nonsense politician. Fred has a lot of admiration for Charlotte, so much that all of those within their circle can see him blushing from a mile away. Jackson Jr. comes into the story as Fred’s best friend and wingman Lance, who insists that if Fred can put his mind to it and respect himself first, he can win Charlotte over. The DePaulia spoke with Jackson Jr. about starring in his first wide-release comedy, handling political commentary through comedic manners and the future of his acting endeavours.

Being part of the forefront of “Long Shot” is something that Jackson Jr. was more than ready to take on, with his experience on set matching the tremendous grin he had on his face throughout the interview. According to Jackson, he was happily surprised by the organized presence that he could feel on set.

“I was surprised by how organized they were. Seth has a team of writers that are looking for the gold in a scene. They are looking for how it can be funnier, they are always two steps ahead. I’ve been on some hellish sets, so I was thankful for how organized it was” he stated.

The mutual coordination that Jackson Jr. expresses is something that came as a shock when learning that much of the film’s comedy was improvisational, a style of comedy that he loves partaking in and would love to continue in the future. The appreciates improvisational comedy and the freedom or range it allows him as a performing artist.

“I don’t like having be so held to the page,” he said. “Sometimes, writers speak in a completely different way than you do; there are words and phrases that you aren’t used to saying all the time. So, it doesn’t seem real. My job is to make it real. Improvisation allows you to stay in the realm of the story, but also do your own thing! If it’s funny, then it sticks.”

“Long Shot” tackles politics like “Anchorman” tackles broadcasting: by placing the characters in these environments and letting the jokes and satire fly. Lance and Fred are best friends despite their political differences, something that seems to have ruined many friendships in our current political spectrum.

Courtesy of IMDB
O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Lance, Fred’s successful best friend and trusted support system.

“With a country that tries to divide itself so many times, I think Lance’s character is so important because it shows you how much you can like about a person besides who they vote for,” Jackson Jr. said. “That shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all. The left and right wing are always going at it so much that they lose sight of what’s important. We can find a balance that’s important if we want to better ourselves and push forward. Or else, we’ll just kill each other trying to get there.”

I could feel the aura of excitement in the room when interviewing Jackson Jr.;he truly felt proud of the work that he put into this film. With the recent birth of his first daughter, he loves to see her reaction to his face being on the TV screen.

“‘Oh my god, Da-Da is on TV. That is cool.’ She got to see me on Ellen, it was great,” he said. “Just to see her face light up. While I am out of town, I know she sees me on TV, and there is nothing cooler than that. I gotta be a cool Da-Da.”

“Long Shot” released in theaters nationwide last weekend, with Jackson Jr. adding to the already impressive cast list of veteran comedians and established actors that contribute to this innovative political comedy.