Brian Presley's football playing background made him a good fit to play quarterback Scott Murphy in “Touchback,” a movie coming out Tuesday on DVD.
The actor, best known for his role as Jack Ramsey in both “Port Charles” and “General Hospital,” was born in Midland, Texas. That's “Friday Night Lights” football country for the uninformed.
His family moved to Jenks, another football powerhouse city, and he started as quarterback for the Trojans. He briefly played the same position for the University of Arkansas when the acting bug bit, and he left sports for acting.
“It was good to put the pads back on again,” Presley said in a telephone interview. “I hate sports movies that looks like the actor has never played sports. I made every play you see in the movie.”
Director Don Handfield deliberately cast actors who had been football players. Along with Presley, actor Marc Blucas played basketball at Wake Forest and high school football. He plays Chris Hall, the movie's star receiver.
What that meant was when Presley actually threw a pass, they could film that, as well as Blucas catching that pass.
As much as Presley enjoyed the football game in the movie, he liked the love story in it, too.
“People who watch the movie can relate to the love story,” he said. “It leaves them satisfied, going back to the meaning of friends and family, even after the lights fade.”
Presley's Oklahoma ties come back again and again.
“The movie's plot reminds me of the Garth Brook's song ‘Unanswered Prayers,'” the actor said, referencing some of the lyrics. “Some of the greatest gifts we are given come from unanswered prayers.”
He believed that so much, and likes Brooks so much, he went to Vegas to see the fellow Oklahoman perform.
Presley said when he was contacted about the movie, writer/director Handfield wanted to meet him and talk about the role and within five minutes of meeting the other man, he knew he was supposed to make this movie.
“The message of this movie is a story about life — when things don't go as planned, what if you were given a chance to do it over? Would you change anything or would you do things differently?
“It's about accepting life where you are, unexpected challenges, community, family,” Presley explained.
He said that when the movie was screened, married couples approached him and thanked him for showing a strong, loving marriage.
Working with co-star Kurt Russell wasn't too shabby either.
“Kurt, he was amazing. He was a dream come true to work with,” Presley said. “He is a true gentleman; he's genuine and a delight to be around.
“I hope to be able to do other stuff with him.”
He was as effusive when describing working with Christine Lahti, who plays Thelma, Scott's hardworking mother.
“She's another veteran actor who elevated the role just by being in it,” he said. “She responded to the material, and it helped me to do it as well.”
A sweet surprise in “Touchback” is the cameo of Oklahoma State and Detroit Lions superstar running back Barry Sanders.
Sanders plays a coach for the Cuyahoga, Ohio, football team. His part was filmed in Michigan.
“We found an opportunity to use him at the last minute. He is one great guy,” Presley said. “It was a pleasure simply to be in his presence. We had fun.”
With this movie safely launched, Presley continues his role on “General Hospital,” one that was launched on a short-lived spinoff of the show, “Port Charles.”
He is ready to start work on a project he can't say much about. All he could say was he is writing and directing a film with four or five major stars and it's about the diphtheria outbreak in Nome, Alaska.
It's the outbreak that needed dogsleds to take the serum to the city, and the run is now a yearly event called the Iditarod.
The other big project is a film for a 2013 release called “Thunder Run,” the story of the taking of Baghdad, Iraq in 2003. The film, directed by Simon West, stars Gerard Butler, Matthew McConaughey, Sam Worthington and Presley.
“It's a very 'Blackhawk Down' sort of movie, a heroic tribute to the men who fight,” Presley said. “People think we just waltzed in there and knocked Saddam's statue down. It wasn't like that. There were less than 1,000 men on the ground.”
Though his career keeps him in Los Angeles and on location, he heart has remained in Oklahoma. The proof lives with him and in him.
He owns two dogs, part Labrador retriever, part Vizsla. Their names?
Boomer and Sooner.
“'Touchback' represents how I grew up in Oklahoma, and the great sport of football,” he said. “I'm an Okie at heart. I'm a Sooner. I have an OU flag outside my house.”