Chicago Justice: Carl Weathers exclusive interview

Carl Weathers is back on the small screen in Chicago Justice, another TV show in the hit franchise from Dick Wolf, we spoke to him exclusively as the show premieres in the UK.

The 69-year-old actor and former football player is best known for his role as Apollo in the Rocky films but has worked in both film and TV since the early 70s, as the show premieres in the UK we spoke to the actor about his character and the show, and those Creed 2 rumours.

Carl Weathers exclusive interview Justice is the latest instalment in the franchise, why do you think it’s such a popular franchise?

Our characters were introduced in Chicago P.D. and there are lots of characters that crossover across the franchise which the fans seem to enjoy. Chicago Justice has a tremendous amount of definition and shape to it. When I read the first script, to me, it was so clearly what it was. Which is why I wanted to be a part of it.

For a moment, for a second, for an hour, the audience can lose themselves in the different shows and find some appreciation in all the characters. And ultimately they come back next week and check it out again. And then the following week, again. And then again and again. That to me is what makes the franchise such a success.

Tell us a little bit about the show & the role you play?

Well, I play Mark Jefferies who’s a State’s Attorney for Cook County in Chicago. And these stories are about what goes on in a big city like Chicago and how our office can prosecute those who are accused of crimes. As the manager, as the elected boss in the State’s Attorney’s office, I’m tasked with seeing that our group takes care of business for the city.

Legal dramas have proven a huge hit over the years, why do you think that is? And what makes this one any different to the rest?

Well, I think over the years part of the allure of legal dramas is that it’s a process which a lot of people may never have to encounter when it comes to a particular crime and going to court. It’s a landscape a lot of people are interested in because it isn’t every day. The other thing is, I think, people like to see justice being served and if you have a crime that’s committed and justice can be served, it’s going through that and understanding that process. And at the end of the day, if you have characters that are characters that you like, that you watch, that you enjoy, that they become a part of your family, that helps. A good drama of any type, certainly something to do with crime, politics and the law, I think there is just something about that which is intriguing for a lot of people. When they work, and they work well, they are spectacular to watch which means at any time of the day, on any day of the year, and any year, you can go back and watch those shows and they work.

What makes our show a bit different is, first of all, it’s set in a particular city which in itself becomes a character: Chicago, it’s a dynamic city, it’s a beautiful city, so what you see of that city you might not see any place else in the world. And of course, we are part of this one Chicago family, and that adds a whole other dimension to it and a dynamic to it that makes it quite different. I think the characters on our show are contemporary characters that you can relate to, whose issues in life are the same sort of issues we all deal with, and seeing them not only deal with their personal lives but seeing them deal with their work lives and how they navigate their way through that in a contemporary setting is quite interesting.

He’s described as seeing the world through a political lens – does this make him more of a villain?

I think he’s an ambitious politician and also a dedicated civil servant. And so there’s a bit of ambiguity there. And I think with Mark Jefferies that’s part of the fascination of him. You know, depending on who’s watching and how he behaves, one could accuse him of being a do-gooder or an ambitious a-hole… It depends on who’s watching and who’s doing the judging.

Carl Weathers exclusive interview

More film actors are crossing over to TV, do you think there’s been a shift in the industry?

Oh definitely there has been a shift in the industry but that is a result of better writing. And certainly, the quality of production in television has become that much better, so I think that actors today don’t distinguish as much as they would have at one time. Television doesn’t have the step-child kind of patina it once had, it is now, in many cases, as important and as successful as the vast majority of movies, and they deliver on a weekly basis, generally, that you can depend on.

If you could choose one medium to work in for the rest of your career, TV or film, which would it be?

Well, on to that, I don’t think they are that indistinguishable. I don’t know, I don’t have an answer for that one. I love what I do, as a filmmaker, as a person who creates entertainment, that’s first and foremost. Good television is just as riveting as good movies are so I wouldn’t want to have to choose.

You recently reunited with Sylvester Stallone at the Golden Globes, does this mean that we could see Apollo Creed make some sort of appearance in the rumoured Creed 2 sequel?  

It would be welcome if there was a good script with a good story about Apollo Creed that I could revisit, but obviously, it would be Apollo Creed 40 years later because it is 40 years later. So yes, it would be fantastic if it happened but I’m not sitting around waiting for it to happen. Right now, Chicago Justice is occupying a lot of my time.

Chicago Justice airs on Universal Channel from Thursday 30th March

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