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No matter how popular the first film, the filmmakers knew they couldn't do a Barbershop sequel without Ice Cube. "Cube was a great anchor for the first movie," says Gartner. "It was clear that unless we had our anchor back, it wasn't going to work. He's the hub of the barbershop."

Thankfully, Cube agreed to the idea as soon as he was approached. As Calvin, Cube is the moral center of the film, the shop owner trying to keep his business going and the mentor all the other barbers look up to. Audiences really responded to his character and to Cube in the role, and Cube was glad to return to such familiar territory. "On the first day of shooting with Cube for the sequel, it was like we never left," says Teitel. "He immediately picked up all the dimensions of his character."

Cube identifies with Calvin's continual inner struggle, a man trying hold everything together. "I like Calvin because he's faced with the same struggles any responsible businessman has," says Cube. "He's taking care of two families - his business family and his loved ones. He's no longer interested in some get-rich-quick scheme. This time he appreciates what he has and he's thinking about others, about the community. The characters in Barbershop 2 really evolve.

"I was also truly motivated to return to the shop because of the issues we tackle," Cube continues, "plus the familiarity of coming back with the same cast as well as the excitement to work with Queen Latifah. The entire cast and crew are very smart and talented, and I love working on projects that are rich and full with multidimensional characters.

"And I think the chemistry is better in Barbershop 2," he adds. "In the first film we were trying to figure out the characters, who they were and what they were about. Now we know. We know if Jimmy would say this. We know if Eddie would feel this way or that way. It just makes everything flow smoother and easier; a lot better."

Cube praises the newcomers to the shop, Queen Latifah and Kenan Thompson, for being able to get right in step with the cast. "I'm so happy about working with Queen Latifah," Cube says. "She's the hottest firecracker this year. To have her on board adds a punch and new flavor to Barbershop 2, really taking us to another level. She fit right in like a pro.

"Kenan is also new to the Barbershop family," Cube continues. "He comes in as Kenard, my wife's cousin, who just got his barber license. My wife wants me to give him a shot, though he basically just messes up people's heads before we realize he's not the right dude for the job. He's very funny."

As the oldest member of Calvin's crew, who could forget Cedric the Entertainer as big-mouthed Eddie, the semi-retired older barber with the Frederick Douglass hairdo who's worked in the shop for several generations but rarely actually cuts hair? For the new film, the filmmakers decided to take audiences to the '60s to show a little back story on Eddie and how he became the person he is today - mixing in a little romance for extra measure.

"In Barbershop 2," says Cedric, "Eddie is still very opinionated, usually shooting off his mouth with some half-truth or another. It's fun playing Eddie because we've all met characters like him at one time or another. He's a lot of fun to listen to and even more fun to play.

"Eddie has seen it all, so gentrification is just another chapter in his book," Cedric continues. "Though his comments can upset people, Eddie really keeps the shop grounded, always preaching about what he's seen throughout his long life. The story continues to be very realistic and genuine, and Eddie's character is designed to throw out the myths and refute anything everybody just believes is true. Eddie is truly the voice I believe all of us have that says, 'I want to say something right now. Right, wrong or otherwise, I feel this way and I'm gon

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