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Q+A Bernie Mac

The comic and Emmy Award-winning sitcom star, 45, is filming Mr.
3000, the story of a major leaguer who retires thinking he has
3,000 hits, only to return 10 years later when he learns he's
still three hits short.

SI: Give us a preview of your character in Mr. 3000.

Mac: Stan Ross is a very confident, over-the-top, self-centered,
egotistical, arrogant son of a bitch. The only thing he cares
about is himself. But he can swing the bat, and he's got pizzazz.

SI: Have you based your portrayal on any real-life major leaguer?

Mac: No. I wanted to individualize this. The only thing I might
have taken in terms of hitting was Roberto Clemente, because he
was my idol. I'm a fan of Ichiro now. He and Clemente have the
same style: They play rightfield, they have the dynamite arm and
they come to play all the time.

SI: Has anyone worked with you on your swing?

Mac: We train with coaches and we soft toss and hit BP. They're
right there on the set watching us. [Former major league pitcher]
Bill Landrum is a pitching coach, and he's been burning us out.
He throws hard sliders.

SI: You grew up in Chicago. What's it like being a fan of Chicago
sports teams?

Mac: We're disappointed. The Bears? One Super Bowl, 1986. How in
the hell you win only one championship with that team? Chicago
sports beat us down. I'll give you an example. How the hell do
the Bulls get rid of Jordan, Pippen, Phil Jackson, Horace Grant,
a championship team that dominated the 1990s? In Chicago, we're

SI: In the 1970s and '80s, you played semipro basketball. How was
your game?

Mac: I was the Wizard. Gus Williams. I was an offensive threat,
and quick. I was a helluva shooter.

SI: John Travolta had been in talks to star in Mr. 3000. Who's
the better hitter, you or Travolta?

Mac: Me. Ain't no question about it. Oh, yeah, I can hit the

SI: Are people born funny or can you become funny?

Mac: You have to be born funny.

SI: So who's the funniest guy in America?

Mac: What's his name? Bernie Mac. The Mac Man. I hear he's a
hell of a man. --Richard Deitsch