Dan Snierson
February 10, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

Hate to break it to you, but Cuba Gooding Jr. is dirty. Oh…wait. We messed up. Turns out, he’s in Dirty, an indie cop thriller out Feb. 24. Would it be such a crime if we asked the man who scored an Oscar for his work in Jerry Maguire to show us the funny? Let’s find out.

Do you think the U.S. will ever lift restrictions against you?
Not if they find out that what I’ve been smuggling keeps people smiling for at least a week.

You play a corrupt police officer in Dirty. If you had to arrest yourself on suspicion of something, what would it be?
A concealed aphrodisiac. Aphrodisi- black.

Whoa. This interview is getting funkier than I expected.
I’m sorry.

What attracted you to Snow Dogs? Was it more the snow or the dogs?
Well, it definitely wasn’t the snow because I found my true African roots on that movie. A brother does not like the cold. That movie changed my sinuses for three years. If I see a dog again, I might kick him in the b—s to make a cat happy.

You made your motion-picture debut as ”Boy Getting Haircut” in Coming to America. Discuss the preparation that went into that role. Did you ease into it by getting a trim before working up to a full-blown haircut?
I went into it with a body wax because I didn’t want Eddie Murphy to confuse what to cut and not to cut.

You were in a break-dancing crew that helped close the 1984 Summer Olympics, where you were discovered by an agent. Let’s say I want to ”break” into Hollywood. Which will get me noticed faster: the Worm, the Moonwalk, or a little Top Rocking?
Top Rocking is the first eye-catcher, because you can see your upper torso move from side to side. That always makes people excited. And if all else fails, you go to the Top Ramen.

What were some of the alternate phrases you tried instead of ”Show me the money!”? I’m guessing ”Divulge to me the dinero!” didn’t quite cut it.
”This white boy’s crazy!” ”The black man is not happy!” ”Have you ever seen me go off in a confined space?” I actually did say some of these to Tom, but it didn’t have the same effect. We wanted to provoke laughter, not fear.

Is it possible that Mr. Cruise was so jealous of your exuberant Oscar-night acceptance speech that the only way he could upstage you was to jump all over a couch eight years later?
Absolutely…I told him the secret to my success and my exuberance was having a strong black woman by my side as I expressed my emotions. I didn’t mean Oprah Winfrey. I didn’t mean to lose your mind and start jumping up and down on the couch like a damn fool.

One of the taglines for Chill Factor — the 1999 action flick in which you play an ice cream delivery man who must keep a chemical weapon below 50 degrees or else kerplooey — was ”Two guys, one bomb, and a whole lot of ice cream.” Have you thought about pitching that as a sitcom title to ABC?
I think that was actually the title based on the box office.

You starred in Boat Trip as a jilted straight guy who winds up trapped on a gay cruise. Do you know what’s funny about that film?
What’s funny?

No, I’m actually asking: Do you know what’s funny about that film?
I just got that! Nothing. Not a damn thing.

I’d like to quote you out of context. Go.
This has been a wonderful interview.

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