Bernie Mac: Mr. 3000 Is The King

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“I ain’t got no bodyguards, because they’re gonna do nothing but get in my damn way. I ain’t living like that. I ain’t got no vices, no outside
kids, I don’t do no drugs. I’m not living like that. I’m a comedian. Even
though people say I shouldn’t, I’m a go to the store whenever I want. I been that way and I don’t want ever, ever, ever to lose that. See ya later, alligator.�

Born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough in Chicago in 1958, Bernie Mac started his career as a teenager, performing on the streets of the Windy City. From there he worked his way onto the chitlin' circuit of clubs catering to predominantly Black audiences. After years of developing a faithful following, the colorful comic finally garnered the wide recognition he deserved in 2000 as one of the “Original Kings of Comedy.� After that hit tour of concerts was turned into a concert film, Bernie Mac landed his own sitcom on Fox and his became a household name. On the big screen, he's since appeared in “Head of State,� “Ocean's 11,� “Bad Santa� and even played Bosley in “Charlie's Angels 2.� Recently, he talked with me about his first title role as Mr. 3000, a major league baseball player who unexpectedly has to come out of retirement in order to achieve Hall of Fame status.

KW: What’s happening, Bernie?
BM: “I just got out of the hospital with pneumonia. I was doing two movies,
The Dinner Party and Ocean’s Twelve, and making a commercial at the same
time, and that’s how I caught pneumonia, I guess.�

KW: How was the set of Ocean’s Twelve?
BM: “I won’t say nothing but it was the best shoot I’ve ever been on. It was
a stone cold blast.�

KW: So, Clooney and company really know how to party?
BM: “Let me tell you something, that’s the new Rat Pack. I mean, we had a
ball all damn day. I really don’t like to compare anything, but those guys
are great guys from a peoples perspective, George, Don [Cheadle], Scott
[Caan], Brad [Pitt]... �

KW: Tell me about this flick, Mr. 3000, and the character you play, Stan
Ross.
BM: "He's an asshole."

KW: Who is he modeled after?
BM: "I used my brother, though I used the swing with the slap of Roberto
Clemente, my favorite, and the swagger and shake of Rod Carew. But Stan Ross
was my brother, the most arrogant, self-centered son of a bitch you ever
want to meet in your life. He hasn't seem it yet, so you pray for me,
because there's gonna be some stuff."

KW: Did he ever play baseball?
BM: "He was a helluva baseball player. My brother should've been playing
pro, but he didn't have the discipline or the drive. He was a dynamic,
Tommie Agee type player with range, speed, agility and power. Lou Brock got
him into the St. Louis farm system, but his head got as big as the room."

KW: Did you learn from his mistakes?
BM: "Yeah, I came from a large household, and going last gave me an
opportunity to watch and to reflect. I saw all the lack of appreciation and
took notes. We live in a microwave society where everybody wants what
somebody else got, and they want it quick. I didn't want to be that. Don't
nobody owe me nothing. Don't nobody have to give me nothing."

KW: Well, you've certainly paid your dues on your way to starring in your
first title role as Mr. 3000.
BM: "This is my first film as a leading man. I don't believe in no stars.
Stars fall. I'm an entertainer. I‘m just an ordinary man with an
extraordinary job."

KW: Why did you decide to make this movie?
BM: "I didn't want to make a buffoonish film, or an over-the-top or
under-the-bottom film. I wanted to make you laugh, cry, think and sit there
and say, 'I didn't know Bernie could do that.' And I didn't want a Hollywood
ending. Charles [director Charles Stone III] and I talked and we was on the
same page. And I said. 'Now Charles, when we go to shoot, don't trip on me,
because I'm not going to do it.' I want to entertain you, and I want to do
this for a long time."

KW: How do you find time to meet the competing demands of your TV show,
movie schedule, commercials, stand-up dates and other appearances?
BM: "I love work. I ain't scared of work, work's scared of me. I was a
construction worker, a professional mover, a cook, a waiter, a painter, and
a school bus driver for the handicapped, so all this is luxury. This is a
treat. I finally found something that makes my heart keep beating. I never
knew what passion for work was possible, because I never had the love for a
job that I have for what I do now."

KW: Do you feel an extra burden having to carry a movie for the first time?
BM: “It ain’t about just Bernie Mac. If this movie is a success, it’s due to
every player that’s involved. I’ll be happy for Angela [co-star Angela
[Bassett], for Brian [White], for Charles. We all win. Everybody needs help.
Even Jesus had twelve disciples.�

KW: Why don’t you travel with an entourage?
BM: “I ain’t got no bodyguards, because they’re gonna do nothing but get in
my damn way. I ain’t living like that. I ain’t got no vices, no outside
kids, I don’t do no drugs. I’m not living like that. I’m a comedian. Even
though people say I shouldn’t, I’m a go to the store whenever I want. I been
that way and I don’t want ever, ever, ever to lose that. See ya later,
alligator.�

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