In the new documentary I Ain’t Scared of You: A Tribute to Bernie Mac, the late comedian’s life is explored from the time he was struggling as a comedian, to the time when he eventually reached stardom. The documentary consists of old footage from his tours, clips from different movies, and interviews with actors and actresses with whom Bernie Mac worked on various films. Those interviewed include Cameron Diaz, Don Cheadle, Andy Garcia, and director Steven Soderbergh.
Rhonda McCullough, the widow of Bernie Mac, took some time to speak to us about the documentary and share her favorite memories of Bernie. McCullough also served as executive producer for the documentary and talks about her experience of working in that position.
Check out the interview below.
We Got This Covered: How did this documentary come together?
Rhonda McCullough: It came together by a producer out of New York named Robert Small. He contacted me, and I think Bernard had passed away about a year and a half prior. He asked me about what I thought of doing a documentary on Bernie, and if I would be interested. I said, “Sure. Why not? We need to let people know what a great guy he was, and how he made it from nothing to stardom.”
WGTC: I saw that you served as an executive producer on the documentary. What was the experience like for you, since this was your first time in that position?
Rhonda McCullough: It was a fantastic experience. I got to gather all the old footage for him (Robert) that Bernard made back in the day, and all the photos and other things. So, it was really interesting. My daughter got to do a lot of the interviews, since she was available at the time. Overall, I thought it was a wonderful experience.
WGTC: So, did you help Robert gather all the people who had worked with Bernie in the past?
Rhonda McCullough: I didn’t have to help him call, but I did give him names of people that he (Bernie) had worked with in the movies. From that point, he (Robert) went on and started contacting everybody.
WGTC: Does this documentary serve as both a tribute and a final farewell to Bernie, or do you think there might be more tributes to him somewhere down the road?
Rhonda McCullough: There possibly could be something else down the road. I wouldn’t say this is a final farewell. But, for me, a tribute is something that lets people see his struggle from the very beginning of his comedic rise and then it shows him as he achieved and embraced that stardom.
WGTC: What are some of your favorite memories of Bernie that you would like to share?
Rhonda McCullough: Oh, my. I have lots and lots of memories. [laughs].
There is this one particular memory I still have of him. Bernard was quite the practical joker and I do miss him playing his practical jokes. But I can remember this one practical joke he played. We lived in a 2nd floor apartment. I remember coming home and bringing groceries and putting everything up. After that, I went to go sit down in the living room and play with our daughter. I think she was about 18 months old at the time. I was sitting on the couch with her on my lap and all of a sudden, I heard a loud bang – almost like a gunshot. Then I heard Bernie scream. So, I put my daughter down and I go, “Oh, my god! What happened?” And I was thinking, “Who could shoot up in a 2nd floor apartment?” So I run into the bathroom and there he is, sprawled out on the bathroom floor. And I’m like, “Oh, my god! Oh, my god! What happened? Who could do this?” So, I go down to the floor, and it looks like blood. But the closer I get to him, I can smell ketchup. Then I looked around the floor, and I could see firecracker paper. I looked at him, and I started kicking him and telling him, “Get up off this floor. There’s nothing wrong with you.” And he just broke out into laughter, like it was so funny.
So, that’s one thing that I can remember he did to me. He always played these cruel practical jokes on me. But after a while, you laugh at him. You don’t laugh at him at that moment, but you do later on. That’s one that always sticks out in my head. He tried to make me think he got shot, but he put ketchup on the floor and lit a firecracker.
David Wangberg: [laughs] So, he was a pretty heavy practical joker around you guys?
Rhonda McCullough: Oh, absolutely, yes. He played practical jokes on you all the time. But you couldn’t play them on him. He did not like practical jokes played on him at all.
David Wangberg: Did you ever go with Bernie on his comedy tours, or on any of the film sets of the movies he did?
Rhonda McCullough: Oh, absolutely. I didn’t get to go to all of them, because we had a daughter we were raising, and I also had to take care of the house. One weekend, I went with him when he was on Def Comedy Jam, and then I also went with him when he was on the Kings of Comedy tour. I only went to the good places, though. If he would go to Vegas and places like that, that’s when I came. I went to all the good cities that I could go to and enjoy. But yes, I went on a lot of his movie sets and his tours.
David Wangberg: What was your favorite comedy tour on which you went with him?
Rhonda McCullough: Well, I didn’t enjoy Def Jam when he first got into it, because it was something new and I had never traveled like that. But my favorite would have to be when he was on the Kings of Comedy tour, and they went to the MGM Grand Hotel in Vegas. That was one of my favorites. He kind of just nailed that. He was so good in Kings of Comedy. That was my favorite.
David Wangberg: What about your favorite film set?
Rhonda McCullough: I got to go to Guess Who, Mr. 3000, Ocean’s 11, and Soul Men, which was his last film. I was there for quite a while on the Soul Men set. It’s kind of very hard to view that film, because that was his last one.
I think Guess Who with Zoe Saldana and Ashton Kutcher was a really nice set. Mr. 3000 was a fun set as well. All the sets were really fun and really nice. All the actors were so wonderful. Everybody was just so nice.
This concludes our interview, but we would like to thank Rhonda McCullough for taking the time to speak to us. I Ain’t Scared of You: A Tribute to Bernie Mac will be available on DVD and Digital Download on February 21.