America is about to see a lot more Shaquille O'Neal, with a slew of new TV and movie projects in the works, so the guy who was once the biggest NBA star in the world and a genie named Kazaam wants you to know he's only here to entertain, not talk your ear off about politics or other divisive subjects.
“I don't do politics. I'm in the fun business," he tells The Hollywood Reporter in a new profile, in which he also shrugs off some of the hottest topics in America. When asked about Roseanne Barr's racist tweet, which resulted in her massively successful ABC sitcom getting cancelled, the former Los Angeles Laker refused to label the alleged "joke" (describing a black former Barack Obama adviser as "Planet of the Apes" meets the Muslim Brotherhood) as an example of racism.
"She's a comedian. I guess she thought she was being funny, but because apes are correlated with black people, I guess you could cry 'racism,'" he said. "But I don't do that. I'm sure she's going through a lot of it right now, but I had a lot of people call me worse names that never hurt me."
Shaq, who is no stranger to acting (remember, before "Black Panther," there was "Steel"), voiced a character in May theatrical release "Show Dogs," is a lead in Lionsgate's upcoming comedy "Uncle Drew," and has two scripted TBS comedy series in the works, one with co-star Ken Jeong. Plus, he's got a Facebook Watch reality show in the works. "Big Chicken" will chronicle the opening of his fried chicken sandwich restaurant chain, the first of which opens this fall in Las Vegas.
"Who am I to say no to Hollywood? You know, everybody wants to be a movie star," he told THR.
But while so many movie and TV stars feel obligated to speak up about the current state of affairs in the United States, Shaq prefers to stay on brand. Here are three more topics the gentle giant star weighed in on without taking a strong stance one way or the other.
Colin Kaepernick Taking a Knee
"I have nothing bad to say about the guy, but if I was making a stand, I probably would have got about 500 top athletes, set up a press conference, invite everybody to say something and come out on TV," he said.
"Now people starting to hate police, and I don't like it, personally. I don't get it," he said. "You know, I always tell some people, 'Hey, if a rapper does something crazy, you want me to hate all rappers? You know, one athlete does something crazy, you want people to hate all athletes? So I love police. I'll always support them."
His respect for the police in a time filled with seemingly never-ending headlines about police brutality and excessive force probably stems from his actual experience as a reserve police officer with the Los Angeles Port Police, as well as the Miami Beach department. Most recently he was sworn in as a sheriff's deputy in Jonesboro, Georgia, and told THR he plans to run for sheriff in Henry County, Georgia, in 2020.
OK, this topic isn't exactly a national conversation, but given Shaq's beef with his former teammate in the past, which led to O'Neal's trade to the Miami Heat in 2004, we figured you might care that, yes, he's totally jealous of Kobe's Oscar win earlier this year for short film "Dear Basketball."
"I was a bit jealous. Jealous of him, he got a 12-pack [of abs], I only got a four-pack. So it was one of those professional jealousies, like, 'Oh, man, he got the gold.'"
Also, Shaq said he and Kobe "never" talk.
"I've got six kids, I ain't got time to be calling another man, you know?" he said.