Law unto him­self

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - COLIN VICK­ERY and DAR­REN DEV­LYN

THE en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try is lit­tered with names of ac­tors who strug­gled to es­cape the shadow of a high-pro­file brother or sis­ter.

Any­one re­mem­ber Frank Stal­lone, brother of Sly, or Don Swayze, brother of the late Pa­trick? They’re just a cou­ple who couldn’t reach the stel­lar heights of a sib­ling.

When self-de­struc­tive co­me­dian John Belushi died at age 33 from a drug binge at LA’s Chateau Mar­mont Ho­tel in 1982, it ap­peared his ghost would for­ever haunt the ca­reer of younger brother and as­pir­ing ac­tor Jim.

How­ever, Jim has a string of films to his name and is hop­ing for­tune will keep shin­ing on him in TV land.

The 56-year-old ac­tor and co­me­dian hit pay dirt with hit US sit­com Ac­cord­ing to Jim. He played sub­ur­ban dad Jim Oren­thal for eight years and 182 episodes.

Now Belushi is star­ring along­side Jerry O’Con­nell, ( Cross­ing Jor­dan), in The De­fend­ers. The TDT com­edy-drama is set in Las Ve­gas and loosely based on real-life lawyers Michael Cristalli and Marc Saggese.

‘‘ The ap­peal of The De­fend­ers was that it wasn’t a sit­com,’’ Belushi says. ‘‘ I did eight years of that, so I wanted to do a drama.

‘‘ I saw a doc­u­men­tary on Michael and Marc and I loved their part­ner­ship.

‘‘ They were bril­liant in the court­room and re­ally stupid [ in their per­sonal lives].

‘‘ I thought, ‘ How could any­one that bright be so stupid with women?’

‘‘ Then I looked at my­self and re­alised it was a nat­u­ral for me.’’

Belushi was born June 15, 1954, the third of four chil­dren, and grew up in Wheaton, Illi­nois. The son of an Al­ba­nian im­mi­grant fa­ther, his per­form­ing abil­i­ties first be­came ap­par­ent in high school when a teacher, im­pressed by his im­pro­vi­sa­tional skills, con­vinced him to try out for a school play.

He joined the school’s drama club, he once joked, ‘‘ be­cause of girls’’.

‘‘ In the drama club, there were about 20 girls and six guys,’’ he said.

Belushi has been mar­ried three times. He has two chil­dren with cur­rent wife Jen­nifer Sloan and a child with his first wife San­dra Daven­port.

The rap­port be­tween Belushi and O’Con­nell, both pic­tured, is the heart of the show. Their char­ac­ters Nick Morelli and Pete Kacz­marek have plenty of fun us­ing all means nec­es­sary to free their clients.

Belushi de­scribes Las Ve­gas – lo­ca­tion for ev­ery­thing from CSI to The Hang­over – as ‘‘ the third char­ac­ter’’ in the show.

‘‘ Peo­ple come here and let loose but they don’t re­alise that Las Ve­gas is in Ne­vada, which is the most con­ser­va­tive state in the US,’’ Belushi says.

‘‘ Ju­ries love to put peo­ple away, so these guys work hard to keep the pros­e­cu­tors from overtrump­ing the charges.’’

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