|-- "My adrenaline's pumpin'/I got my stereo bumpin'/I'm 'bout to kill me somethin'/A pig stopped me for nuthin.'"|
Lines like that one, from Ice-T's 1992 Body Count song "Cop Killer," suggest why some people still have a difficult time accepting the gangsta rap pioneer as a cop despite all of his years on the beat of NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." The former Tracy Morrow insists, though, that the men and women in blue have always had his back.
"Cops like me playing cops," Ice-T cackles. "They dig it. They ID with me, because all of the cops in the streets, they think they're tough, they think they're hardcore. So I play that kinda cop, you know, the one that just wants to grab the perp and break his neck."
He's referring to his "SVU" character Det. "Fin" Tutuola, who has a larger-than-normal part in this week's episode (Tuesday, March 1), titled "Careless."
Despite the fact that Ice played a cop in his very first big screen acting role in Mario Van Peebles' 1991 neo-blaxploitation classic "New Jack City," the idea of the rapper with a badge remains somewhat edgy. In fact, amidst a fair share of parts that call for nothing but pimpin', killin' and dealin', Ice-T has stayed on the right side of the law for at least half of his screen work. Still, he knows that in 2000, most television producers would have thought twice before signing him up for a police force.
"Not Dick Wolf. Anybody else in television, yeah. But not Dick Wolf, 'cuz Dick Wolf is an edgy cat," he says. "I worked with Dick Wolf playing a bad guy on 'New York: Undercover,' and he knew what I was about, he could read me and he knew I was a no-nonsense cat and I wasn't there to make any trouble. I don't think any of these other TV execs had the balls to do it."
Ice-T has a resume littered with questionable projects, including a stint as a man-kangaroo in "Tank Girl" and an appearance as the pimp Mack Daddy in the immortal "Leprechaun in the Hood," but he can laugh off the missteps.
"I've done some cheap movies," Ice-T admits. "I used to do what I call 'sports car' movies, which was kinda like 'How much do I get? Can I buy a Porsche? I'll do it.' I didn't really care, because I really didn't take acting seriously enough."
Along the way, though, he has developed into a powerful screen presence, as well as the kind of respectable citizen who swears that when he misses his show, he's always sure to TiVo it. He remains, however, a casual and instinctive thespian with only limited patience for more Method-heavy guest stars.
"I hate uptight actors," Ice sighs. "They freak me out. They come on the set, they're breathing and running in place and all that bulls***."
Ice says that friends like his "Ricochet" co-star Denzel Washington taught him how to be professional, but not to stress. The relaxed attitude and an active array of musical side projects lead him to both appreciate his extra time this week, but also to hope that his expanded role in "Careless" doesn't necessarily translate into future Ice-centric episodes.
"Honestly, I like when I've only got two lines in the show, because I've got more days off. I'm not gonna lie about that," he laughs. "I don't mind getting the ball either. I've starred in a few movies, so I'm not afraid of taking the reins and taking off with the show."