Jim Belushi: Table Manners

If Ralph Kramden had ever had kids, it's easy to imagine that one of them might have been Jim Belushi.


Still sweaty from a workout with a personal trainer, the actor flops down on the couch in his living room, lights a cigarette and lifts his feet up on the coffee table. This is not a man who puts on airs. "I try to be versatile, I don't think I have a locked-down character. I haven't seen anybody do any impressions of me, so it seems to be working okay. I think Hollywood sees me as a 'likable' type. I've gotten a lot of scripts Michael Keaton and John Candy have passed on."

He's mostly played a buddy (K-9), a boor (About Last Night) or both (Red Heat) in his films, but in his latest, Mr. Destiny, he's neither. He portrays a former high school athlete who's never gotten over striking out in the Big Game. Michael Caine shows him, a la lt's a Wonderful Life, how different things would have been had he triumphed in that game. "Mr. Destiny fits into my game plan in that it's the leading role and it's got a lot of women in it, which the buddy parts don't offer. I recently did a romantic film called To Forget Palermo, but the movie's so bad I don't want to talk about it. Let's just say the film got left at customs in Palermo."

An alumnus of Chicago's famed Second City comedy troupe, Belushi seems ill at ease with his fame. "There's not one day I don't worry that I won't work again," he says. "In Chicago I was a big fish in a small pond. Here it's a huge pond where they eat everyone regardless of your success."

He smiles, and says in a conspiratorial whisper, "I still can't believe I'm getting paid to do on film what I used to do at the dinner table." Except in Hollywood, no one says get your elbows off the table-or your feet, for that matter.

Craig Modderno