- Associated Press - Saturday, December 26, 2015

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - A large man looks out from under his ballcap, arms folded across a massive chest, right hand hovering over his mouth in anticipation of success - or perhaps fear of failure.

In front of him, his son, a high school football player, tries to perform under the weight of impossible expectations and a vicarious glare of opportunities lost.

“Come on, Jol, stay in bounds! Stay on your feet!” the man shouts. “You gotta run behind your pads! . Use your stiff-arm! Get the ball and take it downfield! Come on! Get up off the ground, son! You can’t play on the ground! Come on, man!”

Cut. Print.

The Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/1QFMfTy ) reports that this is a glimpse into Marcus Dupree’s new realm, perhaps his new profession as an actor.

Dupree, now 51, plays an overbearing football dad in an upcoming film titled “Life at These Speeds,” the feature film directorial debut of one-time Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Leif Tilden. Shot in and around Dupree’s home of Jackson, Mississippi, “Speeds” is now getting a musical score in postproduction and will be shopped around at film festivals in 2016.

And here’s the kicker: Marcus Dupree apparently has some acting chops.

“Marcus is a really good actor because he knows, at his age and with some of his life experience and what he’s been through and has been humbled - he tells the truth,” Tilden told the Tulsa World. “And that’s what acting is all about. The really great actors that we all love are really great truth-tellers.”

Dupree has another scene, deeper, more emotional and more personally poignant, in which his character’s son - portrayed by Jaren Mitchell (“21 Jump Street,” ”Now You See Me”) - lies in a hospital bed, pushed too hard by his father, who now is forced to deal with his own shortcomings in life.

“Marcus plays this father who, you know, is a very conflicted dude,” Tilden said. “He pushes his kid hard because he wants him to have a better life than he did. . Marcus is in the hospital room and he’s looking at his kid, whose football career is over, and I just thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be amazing if that was Marcus looking at himself, like what happened to him?’ “

“That’s a pretty good scene,” Dupree said in a phone interview. “I think that will bring tears to people’s eyes. It may be too dramatic for the movies, so we’ll see.

“(Tilden) just told me to be me. He told me what the scene was and, hey, I guess I knocked it out of the park. Because we only had to do it two or three times . from different angles. He said just be me, be his dad and just do what you would do to your son if you pushed your son.”

Tilden grew up in Boston but spent summers with his grandparents in Little Rock, Arkansas. He played sports as a kid and made friends with some football players in Little Rock and became a fan of the game. Around that time, he also became steeped in the legend of Marcus Dupree - his unequaled high school career, his ridiculous recruitment, his meteoric flash as a running back at the University of Oklahoma, and his tragic and sudden exit from the game he loved.

“I knew Marcus Dupree’s story,” Tilden said. “I didn’t know the extent of it and didn’t kind of grasp it until I became an adult, like, the complications of how he was recruited. I was reminded of Marcus when I saw that ESPN ‘30 for 30.’ “

Tilden said his own mother committed suicide when he was 7, and I “spent my whole 40s trying to make this movie because it was important to me.”

Tilden compiled the outline of a film based on Jeremy Jackson’s 2002 novel of the same name, and when he saw Jonathan Hock’s 2010 ESPN Films documentary about Dupree called “The Best That Never Was,” Tilden said he “just took a flyer” on Dupree for the role of Mr. Brule.

“I felt as a director that he’s been through so much in his life that that life experience has to live in him,” Tilden said.

Graham Rogers (“Crazy Kind of Love,” ”Quantico”) is the film’s lead. “Speeds” also stars Billy Crudup (“Almost Famous,” ”Watchmen”), Tim Roth (“Pulp Fiction,” ”Reservoir Dogs”), Melanie Lynskey (“Up in the Air,” ”Two and a Half Men”) and Peter Coyote (“E.T. the Extraterrestrial,” ”Erin Brockovich”).

And an up-and-comer named Marcus Dupree.

When Dupree briefly played for the Los Angeles Rams, one of his teammates was Terry Crews, who now has 69 screen credits to his name. Dupree said being around Crews and being in Los Angeles made him wonder if he could be an actor.

“Yeah, I think I could do it,” Dupree said. “It would be a lot of fun to try, anyway.”

Tailgating before OU’s game at Tennessee back in September, Dupree met actor Joshua Morrow, who grew up in Sapulpa, played high school football in Skiatook, is an OU football fan and for the last 21 years has portrayed Nick Newman on “The Young and the Restless.”

“He said he’s gonna get me on ‘The Young and The Restless,’ ” Dupree said. “He said that’d be cool.”

Who knows? Maybe acting will treat Marcus Dupree better than football ever did.

“Billy Crudup was amazed,” Tilden said. “Billy is an amazing actor and he was like, ‘This guy’s amazing.’ And Marcus is.

“I don’t believe that anybody can just turn on the truth when the camera turns on. . Marcus is a prime example of that. He just kept it real. He told the truth. And he’s so good in it. He’s so good. . The (actors) who saw him work, and then the ones who have just seen the rough cut of the movie, they’re like, ‘This guy’s amazing.’ And he is.

“I tell Marcus, ‘Marcus, you’ve got to keep doing this, man. There are roles for you out there. There are a lot of actors who are working all the time that we see on TV and in commercials and in film that don’t have the life experiences that you have.’ “


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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