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Tom Berenger

Dec. 02, 2002
Dec. 02, 2002

Table of Contents
Dec. 2, 2002

College Football
Pro Football

Tom Berenger

The 53-year-old actor--who was the glue of the Cleveland Indians
in Major League and Major League II--plays Bear Bryant in The
Junction Boys. The ESPN film, which debuts on Dec. 14, covers
Bryant's 1954 training camp in Junction, Texas, when he coached
Texas A&M.

This is an article from the Dec. 2, 2002 issue Original Layout

SI: Coach Bryant made his players practice in 120-degree heat.
How hot did it get inside your air-conditioned trailer on the
movie set?

Berenger: [Laughs.] Oh, it was around 68 degrees.

SI: Why film a movie about Bear Bryant near Sydney?

Berenger: Fifty-five cents to the dollar on the exchange rate. I
was the only American actor. All the others were Aussies. It was
freaky and weird hearing them with Texas accents, but they did a
great job.

SI: What facets of Bryant's personality can you relate to?

Berenger: Obsessive-compulsive. Supreme organization. The
march-or-die mentality. My wife said this was the perfect role
for me. I'm the type of person who will see a piece of paper on
the floor and can't just let it go. Somebody's got to pick it up.
What are we going to do? Just sit and stare at it?

SI: You caught Charlie Sheen on the set of Major League. Could he
really pitch?

Berenger: The first day he threw to me, nine of the first 10
pitches were in the strike zone. On his best days, if he was
rested and his arm was good, I think he was throwing around
88--89 miles per hour.

SI: How much would it take to get you to do another Major League
movie?

Berenger: A lot of money. A lot.

SI: You played tight end at Rich East High in Park Forrest, Ill.
Could you ever have survived Bryant's Junction camp?

Berenger: I was in pretty good shape. I think it's all in the
head more than the body. He himself said those guys were not the
fastest, the strongest, not the most brilliant football players
he had. They just had a lot of heart.

SI: One film critic recently called you a sleepy-eyed,
thick-lipped leading man. How's that for a description?

Berenger: Never heard that one. "Sleepy" is kind of scary. I hope
to hell I'm not as sleepy as Bear Bryant.
--R.D.

COLOR PHOTO: PHIL SHEATHER/ESPN March-or-die mentality