Ice-T remains an institution throughout the various realms of pop culture, going strong for over 30 years now. From his earliest 1980s solo rapper days to his heavy-metal stylings with Body Count (the group recently won a Grammy), his influence cannot be underestimated. Nor has his career remained predictable, although once Ice-T makes a move, he does not waver, which is precisely why Law and Order: SVU fans have dug him as Fin Tutuola since the year 2000. He’s done reality TV and tells it to everyone straight on Twitter, and the man has never been anything but consistently entertaining.
Such a reliable nature might work to Ice-T’s advantage with his new ad campaign for Tide alongside Stone Cold Steve Austin. You’d probably never expect to see him associated with a laundry detergent brand, but he’s on board to educate people (through the #TurnToCold campaign) about the environmental (and money-saving) benefits of washing clothes in cold water. Not that Ice-T actually does the laundry at home, which is something that he had no problem admitting while he was cool enough to chat with us. We touched upon plenty of topics during our discussion, including when he’ll tour again, how he feels about working with Chris Meloni on the Law and Order: SVU crossover with Organized Crime, his approach to Twitter, and other assorted odds and ends.
Is this really the O.G. Original Gangster on the line here?
Hey! How you doin,’ Kim?
I should tell you that Law and Order: SVU was once a go-to syndicated show while I did cardio at the gym. Now we don’t go to the gym, and it’s a little bit sad!
Can I tell you a funny story?
I was in Miami one time, and this lady walked up to me, and she goes, “I was on the treadmill, and I said I would go off when Law and Order went off, and it was a marathon, so I ran 26 miles.” I was like, she did a TV marathon and a marathon at the same time, okay yeah, be careful with that.
It’s strangely motivational to watch you guys take down the indisputably bad guys, and you’ve been on the show for over 20 years at this point.
Yeah, 22 years. I technically came in during the first episodes of the second season, but they shot it during the first season, so I try to claim the first season, but there’ll be arguments. [Laughs] But I’ve been on it a long time.
You’re a pretty fit guy. With gyms being closed and all that and touring not happening, are you still getting your workouts?
I stay in shape. I have a little mini-gym in my house, so I do my dips and my calisthenics, so I’ve always pretty much been in shape. You can get out of shape very easily as you get older, so I gotta stay on top of it. Since I’m on television all the time, I don’t wanna look at myself and say, “Look at yo’ fat ass!” I’m forced to be vain in that respect, but when you marry a swimsuit model, it’s not smart to get fat, so I’ve got a lot of motivation around to stay slim and trim, but I’m doing okay.
You’re SVU-ing it on an April 1 crossover episode, which is the premiere of Chris Meloni’s Organized Crime spinoff. What’s it like to have him back in the saddle?
Well, it’s fun for me. The thing of it is, the difference between me and the fans is that I’ve been in touch with Chris over the last ten years while he’s done his movies and while he had his show, Happy. Me and Chris kinda became friends because we worked together twelve years, so when we got back and we did our scenes together, it’s just like old times. We’re glad to have him back, but Chris wanted to do other things. A lot of actors, well, you don’t become an actor to just play one role for twenty years. It’s about being able to be different characters, and that’s what actors love to do. So, now he’s back, he’s happy, and he’s got his own show, so when you see this reunion, it’s gonna blow everybody away because it’s written well, and it’s good.
Speaking of blown minds… dare I ask how you got involved with your new Tide commercial?
I got cold-called. When people want you to do commercials, the first thing you do is ask, “Does the shoe fit?” “How am I gonna be connected to Tide?” Although I use Tide already, so they told me that cold washing helps the environment, it saves money, and also, it doesn’t ruin your clothes, which is smarter. And Tide does not require hot water to activate. It cleans just as well in cold water, so I thought that was cool. I was like, “Okay, okay, got that!” And then I figured out, “Oh, it’s because my name is Ice.” And they said, “The campaign will be you and Stone Cold Steve Austin,” so I was like, “I’m in.” I’m a fan of Stone Cold Steve Austin, so we went and did the campaign, and it’s a really cool campaign. We’re cold-calling people and telling them about the benefits of using Tide in cold water. We cold-called Mr. T, and it’s kind-of a cool commercial.
And does Ice-T do the laundry at home?
No, I don’t do it. Coco does the laundry. We’ve got a very old-school family situation, so she loves doing laundry, and she’s like, “I’ve got this.” Because she knows that if I do the laundry, I’m gonna half-ass do it.
You know what people say: you can’t be good at everything.
But I told her, and she got the memo that we no longer have to use this hot water, from what I understand, to clean it. And I don’t have to shrink my clothes up and have the colors running and all that stuff, so it’s great.
You’re out there lobbying for an “edit” button while saying that you’ve heard all of the comments for and against one, but dammit, you want one.
I think it’s stupid that they don’t have one! I mean, Instagram has one. People are so concerned: “Oh, you could say something, and then you could take it back!” You can screenshot, and all the reasons they don’t want an edit button are negative. It’s just based around catching someone saying something and then trying to deny it. It’s based in negativity, it’s not based to help people. There’s a million different ways they could do an edit button. They can make it so that if you edit it, it says it’s been edited — it could have a little symbol. What they don’t understand is that I’ll put up a tweet, and it might get 2000 likes, and then I’ll realize that something’s spelled wrong, and then you don’t wanna take that one down. Because I’ve had times when I’ve had a bunch of people like something, and I took it down, and they got offended. But you know, it’s Twitter, and maybe Twitter’s just not wanting to be like IG, but you know, whatever. Then don’t comment on my spelling! All the spelling Nazis, stop.
Twitter is for bursts of 240 characters. Typos happen that way.
And also, Twitter’s something you’re doing on your phone! Your thumbs are moving, and they won’t have an edit button, but they’ve got autocorrect. So why do you have autocorrect if I’m talking slang? So whatever, it’s nothing… I just had a moment when I felt like saying it because I just tweeted something where I didn’t put an -ing on a word, and I felt like, “Man, why can’t I just edit this stuff?” Whatever, who cares.
You once tweeted about blowing through a toll booth on accident and briefly getting arrested.
There was quite a reaction to that saga on Twitter and on the news.
It was stupid. You’ve got real crimes and all that going on, and as far as arresting me? Yeah, I think they overreacted. They could’ve given me a ticket. A lot of times when a cop arrests a celebrity, it gives them the chance to be famous. They never arrested anyone, but they arrested JLo. So now, they get to say, “Ahhhh, I put JLo in handcuffs.” It’s something that they do for themselves. You know, as many crimes as I’ve committed in my life, and you’re gonna bust me for running a toll? It’s funny to me. If there’s nobody in the trunk, I’m not sweating, so I’m not really worried about it. The thing is, I was on my way to go play a cop! on TV! And you guys are busting me.
Speaking of your SVU character again, there was a Cameo you did for some John Mulaney fans, and they got you to poke fun at Fin Tutuola — that time that he took a long time to grasp the concept of sex addiction — and you played along, and that Cameo clip went viral. People ask you to say some really odd stuff.
I don’t even remember that one! On Cameo, most of the people just want you to say “hi” and “happy birthday” and anniversaries. There were some people who had a sixty-second wedding anniversary. When I first started Cameo, I didn’t think that was as cool as it was until I saw the reaction. When I saw the way that people reacted to cameos, I thought, “Oh, this is cool.” So there’s “tell my brother to stay in school,” or “congratulate my teen” for this or that, it’s a cool platform, and I enjoy doing ’em.
We are almost out of time here, but I’m a Body Count fan, and you guys won a Grammy this year. You once talked about your heavy metal influences, like Black Sabbath. Do you dig any particular contemporary metal bands?
We based our band off of Slayer and Suicidal Tendencies, and of course, Black Sabbath. I like Lamb of God and Fit for an Autopsy, which is the band of my producer (Will Putney). We’ve been out with so many bands. Of course, I like Power Trip, but it kind of sucks because this past year, we couldn’t tour. We put out Carnivore, and then the pandemic hit, so we dropped an album, and we haven’t been able to do a single show.
Do you know when touring will likely resume for you?
Everybody’s saying 2022, so we’re gonna come up with some other ways to get the music out to the fans. Right now we’re doing an EP to connect to Carnivore because we don’t wanna just step over that album like a dead body. We got a Grammy for it, so we’re trying to keep our fans entertained, so we’re thinking of different options. We just did a fan video for “The Hate Is Real.” Have you seen that, the one with the puppets?
Oh, I saw it on Twitter and did not click on it yet, so I’m doing fantastic here.
You’re gonna bug out on that one. I had a concept where I said, “The fans are gonna make the video,” and this one was the winner. It’s outrageous.
I’ll go watch it now, and it’s been real talking to you.
Well, keep following me and stay on Twitter. You never know what’s gonna happen, day by day. Someone might pop off, and I might need to let ’em have it.
‘Law and Order: Organized Crime’ debuts on April 1, and find out more about how to #TurnToCold via Tide’s website.