Call it method acting. As stars of a movie called “Fist Fight,” Charlie Day and Ice Cube were committed to honoring the title.
The “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star and rapper turned actor play rival teachers in a disastrously run high school in the (extremely) raunchy comedy, which they describe as a mixture of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Three O’Clock High,” “Animal House” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”
Amid budget cuts and unruly students, the two teachers butt heads figuratively, then literally when Day’s character Andy Campbell gets Ice’s character Ron Strickland fired.
Professionals to the core, Day and Ice wanted to make sure the denouement was successful.
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The altercation between the two teachers in the high school parking lot lasts only about 10 minutes but was actually shot over an eight day period.
“This wasn’t your typical movie fight,” said Ice Cube, from Punch Miami boxing studio. “One thing [director] Richie Keen kind of made sure we knew was that it had to be epic because we had built it up so much. The choreography was pretty intense.”
Day did not want to disappoint audiences, either.
“We wanted to build tension and deliver big; hopefully it’s a big release by the end. We worked hard.”
Both guys were pretty banged up afterward.
“Twelve to 14 hours of fighting. It’s a good workout,” admitted Ice Cube, 47. “I mean, you kind of had to sit down and rest and let the body cool off. By about by fourth day, everybody was pretty glad the weekend was coming around. We got rejuvenated so we could finish this thing out.”
Day, 41, says he feels like his body went through a transformation from the grueling shoot.
“I honestly don’t think I’ll ever be the same. Some part of me got a little tweaked,” he laughed, adding, “My next movie, I use all stuntmen!”
Though some stuntpeople were involved in “Fist Fight,” Keen thought it would be more realistic for viewers to see Day and Ice actually go at it.
“The problem is they were so good at what they do that they didn’t look sloppy enough,” explained Day. “So he was like, ‘You guys get in there and dirty it up.’”
Despite the aches and bruises, Ice and Day had a blast, helped along with a cast that includes Tracy Morgan as the dumb-jock coach; Christina Hendricks as a hilariously sadistic colleague; and Dean Norris, as the beleaguered principal.
“I would say the cast was one of the reasons I chose to do this movie,” said Ice, who last year starred in the big screen hit “Straight Outta Compton,” based on his life with iconic hip hop group NWA. “It was a pleasure to be with that many funny people in one place. Plus the script and the premise were so good. You had some strong bricks.”
In a bit of dream casting, it turns out Ice had wanted to work with Day a while.
“I know he don’t believe me but I’ve been wanting to get a chance to act with him since I saw him in ‘Horrible Bosses,’” said the “It Was A Good Day” singer. “I just love his style of comedy. The way he took his character and made it a unique person. I knew if we ever got a movie together we could kill it!”
Day was duly flattered: “It works between us. Boom! We need to create our own franchise!”
OK, so if there is a “Fist Fight 2,” what kind of scenario can we expect?
“We’ll call it Teachers with Attitude,” joked Ice, who despite his menacing presence on screen is in real life a teddy bear.
“Nah. I think we should do the public school teachers vs. the private school ones,” Day laughed, adding, “Hey, if they want another one, we’ll figure a plot out pretty quick.”
They’ll have find the time to fit a sequel into their busy schedules.
Day is working on “Pacific Rim 2,” and Ice, who has a cameo in “xXx: Return of Xander Cage,” just launched a new basketball league called Big3, a new professional 3-on-3, half-court basketball league made of up retired NBA players.
“Of all the things I’ve done. That’s something I’m really proud of,” said Ice. “It’s fun.”