Film Scouts Interviews

Michael Jordan Press Conference on "Space Jam"

by Karen Jaehne

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October 27. 1996

Your faithful Film Scout went to the Michael Jordan press conference prepared to witness another epic ego of the entertainment biz - and surprise! It was Michael Jordan, who is almost as charmingly human as Bugs Bunny. And you know how much we like Bugs.

Jordan admitted to liking Bugs himself: "I'm a lot like Bugs. Even if I fail, I think I win." (Presumably that referred to his brief career as a baseball player.)

We asked him how he approached the task of acting. (Face it, enough actors treat the task like a free-throw that there's no reason for Jordan to find it all that daunting.) Still, he gave credit to actor Stan Shaw for coming around to give him pointers. And, "It helped that I got a chance to play myself....No, I haven't had any other offers....I don't mind playing a hero. I can't see myself as a villain. I smile too much."

A deep-throated WNBC reporter posed the pretentious question: "Michael, do you ever wake up in the morning and ask yourself, Can this really be my life?" Jordan twisted his smile around and put the guy in his place: "Yeah. This morning."

What actors does Jordan admire? "Sidney Poitier a lot, always. And Bill Cosby - and Harrison Ford, Gene Hackman, Denzel Washington, and I don't have enough time to name them all." As to his entering show-biz, "I'm willing to take some time to learn everything I can about the film business." He has a lot of friends there, and a lot of them frequented the set of "Space Jam," in order to keep Michael company, because Bugs and the Warner Bros. cartoon folk couldn't be around for the shoot.

Of all the actors who came on the set to play b-ball with Jordan, he pointed to Damon Wayans as the best ballplayer.

Asked about his enormous impact as a role model for kids, Jordan admits, "I take being a role model very seriously. Kids have a sense of truth about them. You can't fool them. As long as I feel good about what I'm doing, it doesn't make any difference if people know about it. But the kids have a lot to do with the admiration and respect I enjoy, and I owe them some admiration and respect back."

In spite of his accessibility to the kids, Jordan claims, "I'm not afraid of going back to normal life....There's a heavy price to be in the public eye - to know everything you do is magnified out of proportion."

With the diplomacy that makes him such a nice guy when, in fact, he wants to get away from all these people who are going to magnify him, he says, "Look, I don't want to take too much of you guys' time."

The final question is about his message to kids who want to be like Mike. "Be better than Mike," is his answer. "Enjoy life. Success isn't something you chase, it's given to you for your work - hard work."

The very successful "Mike" Jordan then smiles shyly, rises from the folding chair where he's been sitting for 50 minutes on the hot seat and straightens his black Nehru jacket and strolls slowly off the dais. Again, he's won - in a battle of wits between one player and some 60 journalist-players who will go back and be Monday-morning quarterbacks of the movie biz.

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