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Q + A Michael Madsen

The star of Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 plays poker pro Don (The Matador) Everest on ESPN's Tilt

SI: Have you become hooked on hold 'em?

Madsen: It's been hard for me to catch on to the game because when you're an actor in a story about card players, by the end of the day the last thing you want to do is play cards. And I don't have a couple of hundred G's to throw on a table. I'm trying to keep a roof over my kids' heads.

SI: I'm having a hold 'em game with the Reservoir Dogs crew--Mr. White, Mr. Orange, Mr. Blonde, Mr. Pink, Mr. Brown and Nice Guy Eddie. What happens?

Madsen: One helluva card game (laughs). It would be, well, unpredictable.

SI: You played Bump Bailey in The Natural. How was it being in a big-budget sports movie?

Madsen: It was 14 weeks in Buffalo at War Memorial Stadium. We got the great uniforms and the cleats. I had fun, and [Robert] Redford was a great guy. We used to go out in centerfield and hit baseballs to the extras in the stands.

SI: How were you as a high school football player?

Madsen: I was a linebacker, and I tried to be a running back. I was also a long jumper, and I did the hurdles. But the only sport I ever excelled at was swimming. I swam the 100- and 200-yard freestyle.

SI: It must have been tough to swim in those Ray Bans you always seem to be wearing.

Madsen: Everybody thinks I wear those damn things because I'm trying to be a movie star, but the truth of it is I just don't like bright lights in my face. My dad wore them when I was a kid. That's why I took a liking to them.

SI: You're one of Hollywood's top heavies. How can I become more of a tough-guy interviewer?

Madsen: You can't be a telephone tough guy. All the other person has to do is hang up and your game is over. --Richard Deitsch