Dennis Rodman was a key part of the third episode of ESPN’s Michael Jordan documentary, The Last Dance. The third chapter chronicled Rodman’s evolution from a shy, child-like soul beginning his career with the Detroit Pistons to the unpredictable and volatile, yet vital third cog in the Chicago Bulls’ second three-peat championship run.
Yet as you might expect, Rodman wasn’t exactly a willing interview for director Jason Hehir as he was putting together the multi-part documentary.
Appearing on ESPN’s “Jalen & Jacoby” aftershow following Sunday’s Last Dance telecast, Hehir described the difficulties with interviewing Rodman and the unusual requests from the peculiar NBA star in exchange for his time.
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“Interviewing Dennis Rodman is like trying to interview a feral cat,” said Hehir. “He’s not looking in the same place, he’s got those big shades on. Every other sentence was going back to Kim Jong-un and how he was gonna be in the history books.”
Hehir went on to explain that Rodman showed up for his interview two hours late and constantly had to be reminded about the subject at hand. Additionally, Rodman said he’d give Hehir 10 minutes when the filmmaker was expecting to talk for hours. But the rebounding sensation relented once Hehir catered to his demands.
“So he sits down, I’m just kind of shooting the shit with him, and he says ‘I need a tuna sub from Subway and some chamomile tea,'” Hehir recalled. “It was like Chappelle sending the guys for a sugar cookie in Queens. Unless you pass this test, you cannot do this interview. So we got him the tuna sub, we got him the chamomile tea, and he sat down for three hours.”
“So he sits down. I’m just kind of shooting the s**t with him, and he says, ‘I need a tuna sub from Subway and some chamomile tea.’ It was like Chappelle sending the guys for a sugar cookie in Queens. Unless you pass this test, you cannot do this interview. So we got him the tuna sub, we got him the chamomile tea, and he sat down for three hours. But that is a difficult guy to interview.”
What Hehir managed to get from Rodman was good for the documentary and likely worth the effort (along with the cost of a Subway tuna sub, even if he wanted the foot-long size). Imagine devoting that much time to Rodman’s impact on the Bulls and his eccentric needs without getting any insight as to what he was thinking at the time or how he views those events more than 20 years later. Hehir wound up with some excellent footage, including this clip of Rodman talking about rebounding:
Sure, the story could have been told with the accounts of Jordan, Phil Jackson, and Carmen Electra. And maybe that would have even given those narratives a whiff of legend. But not having Rodman would have left a hole in the film.