If you’re expecting the normal Bernie Mac performance when you see the new movie Pride, think again. Unlike most of his roles which play up his comedic ability Bernie’s character in Pride, a local janitor, is not the normal Bernie we’re used to seeing. Instead the film shows what Bernie can do in a dramatic role, and he doesn’t disappoint.
From the synopsis (provided by the studio):
The year is 1973, and Jim Ellis (Terrence Howard), a college-educated African-American, can’t find a job. Driven by his love of competitive swimming, Jim converts an abandoned recreational pool hall in a
Yes the film is another in the long line of feel good sports movies, but thankfully due to the performances and the story it’s a welcome addition to the genre.
The interview below has a few highlights – like when he talks about his role in Transformers and how he thinks Oceans 13 will be the best one yet. Rather than posting the specific quotes I’ll let you read them below.
The interview with Bernie Mac was conducted in roundtable form and if you would rather listen to it – click here.
If you would like to watch the trailer for Pride before reading the interview – click here
Pride opens Friday in theaters everywhere.
Question: How was it being dramatic, Bernie?
Bernie Mac: Dramatic was easy. A lot of people don’t know I started dramatic. Comedy is something you all know I can do. I’ve introduced myself with comedy and once you’ve introduced yourself as something that’s where people keep you. That’s where people like to hold you. But Miss Hunter in 4th grade started me in drama. That’s where I first started doing plays. I took a page out of my Big Mama and my mother’s notebook. Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. So that works in my favor. When you all see me in that light or an individual in that light, I love to hear you all say “wow, I didn’t know he could do that” and for actors and stuff, ballplayers, they sometimes when they want to do other things and the media or the critics don’t let them, they get frustrated. You shouldn’t get frustrated because that goes with the territory. For example, it’s an honor when people see you and without you saying a word just starts laughing and smiling. One person I know had that and that was Richard Pryor. And Richard Pryor in Lady Sings the Blues did an excellent job. Every time he came on the screen everybody was laughing. He was tight afterwards. Man, I did good I wasn’t trying to be funny and I learned from that. I remember when he said that and I said don’t get mad Richard, they love you. You know what I’m saying? That’s a compliment. But I realize the frustration on people’s parts when they want to do something outside of what everybody else sees them. All you do as a performer is keep doing it. If you keep doing it and then it depends on why you’re doing it. If you’re doing something for superficial monumental reasons and if you’re doing it for female attention, or if you’re doing it money, it’s like being upset. Only way you can you get upset is when you expecting something. If you don’t yet this award or don’t get that award that because you expect something. If you get mad at John or Jill or Jack you expect something – I’ve been knowing him for 30 years. Well, you gotta pay for it? Do you understand my point? So I don’t ….drama is something I can do man, I got chops, but you just have to always, always, every time you get the opportunity, that’s what this life—life ain’t’ no dress rehearsal. You know, every time it comes, every time that light comes on or every time that camera comes on, every time that microphone comes on the Mac Man seek and destroy.
Is your character based on a real person?
Kind of, sorta. I came up in the community center. I used to be physical director of the
I’m not Richard. I don’t want to do Jo Jo Dancer. I want to show and no disrespect to anybody, I run my own race. I don’t worry about what lane anybody’s in or what somebody’s doing or who’s in front. I want people to say at the end of my day, you know like I used to say about Sidney Poitier and James Cagney and Joan Crawford and Red Skelton and those guys and Bill Cosby. They did quality and substance. You always remember them. I turned down so much stuff because I want people to see when they say Bernie Mac is performing something I’m going, because they know I’m not going to cheat the people. When they say Bernie Mac is in the film I’m going to see that. That’s why I say, when Stevie Wonder had a new album–I’ve got to go get it because I knew he was going to bring it. Jo Jo Dancer is something definitely Richard Pryor wanted to do. He wanted to tell the story of his life. I don’t want to tell a story. I think it’s important for…I think I told my story #1 many times and if someone’s going to tell their story that’s their job to tell the story about you or him, for me that’s a sign of bragging. You know. I don’t want to do that.
How’s Ocean’s 13 doing?
Oceans 13. Let me tell you something. I hate to compare anything especially while I’m promoting. I feel that’s another disrespect, but Oceans 13 is the best movie I’ve ever done in my life. No question. You’re playing with the boys because I mean its personal. You’ve got all the boys, all my buddies over there. You’ve got George and Don Cheadle and Carl Reiner and Elliot Gould and Matt Damon a sweetheart you got Brad and all the boys you can’t no, it’s solid. You can’t say more dude.
What about it is going to make it better because George is on record saying he was disappointed in the 2nd movie?
We were all disappointed.
How do you guys come back for the 3rd time and make it the best one?
By making a bad film the 2nd time. They you say ok, you know what. No kidding. What are we doing? That is a perfect example of pimping. That’s a perfect example of not being true and honest to yourself. I don’t want to do that. But my connection with the boys, I couldn’t say no. I can’t say no Soderbergh–Bernie we want you in there and I was Guess Who at the time too and you fly all over. That’s how I got pneumonia from flying all over the world. I was doing that. I just through the television show 20 hours. No, I’m not doing that next time. You’re just making a film. I said man this script is booty. I didn’t know if it was
Can you talk about your character in Transformers?
Transformers. I’m playing a used car salesman and all used car salesmen are full of shit excuse my French but they’re con men. They came to my set and I sold them the transformer. I didn’t know it was a transformer, I thought it was a piece of junk and the first thing you do as a car salesman, and I didn’t know this I did some investigating myself, they always sell you the B.S. cars first. It’s almost like a restaurant, get rid of the food and rotate it. When they come I didn’t know what car….what is this stuff and I just through them a line and I’m a fast talker and quick wit guy you know. I got a chance to have some fun.
Do you ad lib a lot in this because
I only ad lib when Sunu told me to Bernie Mac it. I try to do and stay…I’m very disciplined and I’m a fan of respect. Sunu, a first time director, I didn’t want to be …and go all off the page and everything. But when Sunu instructed me he said “Bernie I need something right there.” Give me Bernie Mac, you know. That’s when I did. We took a take the way Sunu wanted it and Sunu if he had a note for me I did it what Sunu’s note described to me and then when Bernie Mac, I put the Mac Man on it.