Sure, when Ice Cube ducked out of NWA and into his first big-screen film role in 1991, he'd already starred as a rough-talking gangsta in plenty of music videos... but real cinema? What most naysayers overlooked was that the man could actually deliver a bona fide, heartfelt performance! Parading around South Central L.A. in a shower cap, Ice Cube played the ugly-duckling son of a down-and-out family in John Singleton's breakout Boyz N the Hood. With equal parts melancholy and bawdy jester, Ice Cube delivered much of the film's nuance, easily shifting from an angry gangbanger to a yearning young boy trying to escape a desolate home life. A decade later, Ice Cube is banging at the door of Hollywood's exclusive A-list. In August, he will headline an out-of-orbit horror flick, the $30-million blockbuster Ghost of Mars, and now that he's producing, writing and acting, Ice Cube has silenced those early critics. Represent!

Friday (1995)--Like Cheech & Chong crossbred with House Party, Ice Cube's first screenplay is a laugh-a-minute slapstick about a couple of down-and-out, dope-smoking brothers who do little more than mock neighbors and elude the local drug dealer.

Anaconda (1997)--In a high-budget, low-suspense horror flick, Ice Cube and Jennifer Lopez star as documentary filmmakers floating down the Amazon and battling a forty-foot snake. J. Lo gets her shirt wet and Ice Cube, who is mangled by the slithering serpent, serves as the obligatory Black dupe.

Player's Club (1998)--As the writer, director, co-producer and bit actor (not to mention scoring half of the soundtrack), there is perhaps no more clear reflection of Ice Cube's in-your-face style than this film. Cube cleverly juggles humor, humanizing reality and gut-clutching drama in a story about the world's seediest strip club. The days towards graduation tick away like a time bomb as a nubile young stripper works her way through college.