He probably made your acquaintance as one of the boyz in the ’hood, or as catchphrase-spewing wideout Rod Tidwell in Jerry Maguire, which won him an Academy Award. Now Cuba Gooding Jr., 43, plays the bad guy in The Hit List (trailer at bottom, out on DVD this week), a gritty, Collateral-like action flick. The dude likes keeping busy. “Actors are perishable fruit,” explains Gooding Jr., who’s shot nearly 40 movies since his Oscar. “In film acting, you only get to practice when you’re on a set.” Here, he dispenses some life advice that would make Dorothy Boyd blush.

MADE MAN: What item do you never leave home without, and why?
CUBA GOODING JR.: Two items. My BlackBerry and my wallet. My wallet because if they don’t recognize a black man, they might think I’m stealing something. And my BlackBerry ’cause brother’s always waiting for his agent to send him another script.

MM: What’s your drink of choice after a tough day at work?
CGJ: My mom used to tell me as a kid, “Drink more water.” I used to think, “No, no, no.” But I’m telling you, it just flushes me out. Like, I got a bottle of water with me now. So whenever I get too stressed, I gotta just start flushing my system out. So water. Just water. Especially after a hard night of drinking.

MM: What grooming, style or fitness thing can a guy do in the morning to look good all day?
CGJ: Put on deodorant. Because no matter how you look, if you stink, nobody wants to stand next to your ass.

MM: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about women?
CGJ: My father told me years ago, and this has rung true in my relationship with my wife, who I’ve been with 23 years. And she’s going to be mad when she hears this, but it’s so true. He said, “Never take them too seriously, son.” And it’s so funny if you think about it. Every argument you ever get in with someone you love is just a little more because you’re like, “What did they mean by that? Why did they say that?” My buddy could tell me to go f*** myself, I’d be like, yeah, you too. My wife could tell me to go f*** myself. I’d be like, “Well, what does that mean? What did I do?” Never take them too seriously. It seems to work.

MM: What can The Hit List teach us about being better men?
CGJ: Well, let’s hope that if anybody gets anything out of this movie other than just shooting guns and action stuff and violence, it’s this: appreciate what you’ve got. Know your place on the food chain and be that thing. Somebody told me a long time ago as an actor, “Your greatest power that you can have is to know where you stand.” Because if you shoot too high, you’re done. If you shoot too low, you’re cheating yourself. Just know where you stand. People love being around a person who just makes the most out of whatever his scenario is. That’s the best thing you can ask for. That’s from God.

MM: Any parting words of wisdom?
CGJ: They’ve got a lot of surveys about how many people are hit by buses and how many people die of cancer and from heart attacks, but the number-one killer is stress … That’s why I’m headed to the bar.

MM: Nice. OK, bonus question. What’s the best way to get a girl?
CGJ: You know what I’ve learned, being married for so long, that is attractive to men and women: confidence. Just confidence. Not arrogance. Just confidence. Like, it’s so funny, I have this friend, Sean. And the one thing that everybody says about Sean is that he can put on a pair of boots and swim trunks and make it look cool. Whereas if some other people do it, they look insecure, they walk insecure, you’re like, “What the hell are you wearing them boots for?” But Sean can do it. So you gotta be confident about what you do.

MM: How do you get confidence?
CGJ: Um, not giving a f*** what other people think!

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