Lengthy ca­reer af­ter Rocky start

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If destiny had gone a dif­fer­ent way, ac­tor Carl Weath­ers might’ve been an NFL star.

Or we might know the Rocky star as an R&B sen­sa­tion. (He per­formed in bands as a teen and even re­leased a sin­gle – a slow jam called You Ought to Be With Me – in 1981.) But in­juries and good tim­ing con­spired to bring the New Or­leans na­tive to screens big and small in a host of mem­o­rable roles over 40-plus years.

From the start, the for­mer line­backer with a BA in drama was a man of ac­tion. Most fa­mously, he played the ir­re­sistibly ex­u­ber­ant heavy­weight champ Apollo

Creed, who was vic­to­ri­ous, then later lost in a re­match to Rocky Bal­boa in Sylvester Stal­lone’s box­ing fran­chise.

He helped Har­ri­son Ford thwart the Nazis in Force 10 From Navarone and faced down the Preda­tor (and lost) along­side Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger. In 1988, Weather took things into his own hands in the un­der­rated Ac­tion Jack­son. The ac­tion star then turned to com­edy, giv­ing golf tips to Adam San­dler’s Happy Gil­more (‘‘It’s all in the hips’’) and play­ing a thrifty ver­sion of him­self on the crit­i­cally ac­claimed Ar­rested De­vel­op­ment.

He’s cur­rently star­ring as State’s At­tor­ney Mark Jef­feries on Dick Wolf’s lat­est drama set in the Windy City, Chicago Jus­tice. Weath­ers, 69, says he was happy to jump into the court­room.

‘‘It’s Dick Wolf,’’ he says rev­er­ently of the Law & Order master­mind. ‘‘You’ve got a guar­an­tee pretty much that it’s not go­ing to be a dog.’’ There was no pivot. The first play I ever did was in grade school, and that was be­fore I was an ath­lete. I fell in love with act­ing. What I fell in love with – most ac­tors, I think, would prob­a­bly say the same thing – was ap­plause and ap­proval. There’s some­thing about that that’s so heady, par­tic­u­larly when you’re a kid.

I didn’t re­ally start se­ri­ously into sports un­til I got into ju­nior high school. I’ve never re­ally thought this through re­ally well, but I think prob­a­bly as a young boy, you [play sports)]to fit into those groups of guys, and also if you start be­com­ing in­ter­ested in girls, girls like ath­letes. They can know about it, but that kind of self-dep­re­cat­ing and offthe-wall [hu­mour] just ap­peals. Then, of course, Rocky in its own way is such a clas­sic for ev­ery­one. It’s such a fa­mil­ial way of bond­ing. Also, where can you go in the world where you can’t talk to some­one about Rocky? It con­nects peo­ple in so many ways be­cause there’s so many as­pects of it that they love. It’s a buddy film in a strange way, it’s a love story in a strange way, it’s this phys­i­cal test of one’s abil­ity to per­se­vere.

When you think about it, all of those el­e­ments I just mentioned are el­e­ments we all ex­pe­ri­ence in life. Our own dis­ap­point­ments, our own some­times lack of be­liev­ing in our­selves, maybe find­ing some­thing that in­spires us and pushes us be­yond where we thought we could be.

Ul­ti­mately, when you re­ally fi­nally get to a place of en­light­en­ment, what you re­alise is, you are the great­est com­pe­ti­tion you will ever face. That state­ment is one that I think is very, very sig­nif­i­cant, and it’s un­der­stated, but it exists in those movies. You have to push your­self. You have to mo­ti­vate your­self. You have to find a rea­son to get up and go on and achieve your dreams, be­cause noone else can do that for you.

– Los An­ge­les Times

Chicago Jus­tice 8.30pm, Wed­nes­days from July 26, Three

Carl Weath­ers plays Mark Jef­feries in Chicago Jus­tice.

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