Sports prepped him for acting, ‘Enlisted’ star says

  • By Luaine Lee McClatchy-Tribune News Service
  • Monday, December 30, 2013 4:28pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

When actor Geoff Stults threw an interception during a critical football game in junior high school, he set a pattern for his life.

“We were about to win, and I threw an interception and got mad at myself and punched the ground and broke my hand,” he said.

“So I had to miss some games because of that, and people were very disappointed in me because I was the quarterback. So I learned very quickly to handle your emotions a little bit better.”

That ability came in handy when, at 17, Stults decided to move to California to attend college and to try to be an actor. Like most before him, it’s been a struggle.

Stults’ first significant role was that of one of the love interests on “7th Heaven.” He and his real-life brother, George, played siblings on the show.

George stayed on for seven years, but Geoff left to do a pilot that failed, finding himself among the unemployed again.

“I think the one thing that athletics prepared me for that’s been more beneficial than anything has been the humbling times,” said Stults, who is starring in Fox’s new comedy, “Enlisted,” premiering Jan. 10.

“I learned how to deal with the lows and there are, in sports, every day you can be the hero or the goat.

In “Enlisted,” Stults plays one of three goofy brothers, all serving at a military base in Florida. If fate had swerved slightly, Stults might really be there. He grew up in Colorado and was on his way to the Air Force Academy.

“I was being recruited by them for football. I got my congressional nomination, I would’ve had to run to prep school because my grades weren’t quite up to par, but I was very close. And I wanted to do it. But I just decided against it towards the end. I think once I came out to California and saw the palm trees, that was it, he said.

“I’d never been away from my brother and parents before. Looking back I was so ambitious: ‘I’m going to take on the world!’ I was probably less scared to do it then than I would be now,” he said.

He landed guest roles on television and became a regular on shows like “October Road,” “Ben and Kate” and “The Finder.” His co-star on “The Finder” was the late Michael Clarke Duncan, with whom he became very close.

“I watched him unfortunately suffer that heart attack and be in a coma for a little while. Just to be there and watch a guy who was just so big and healthy and vibrant and positive — to watch how that just went away. He was in a coma for 54 days. Just to watch this big personality fight, and you could see him fighting, but it just wasn’t working.

“You could see him trying. You could talk to him and he’d respond. It was amazing and terrible to watch. He was healthy for all intents and purposes. He worked out, tried to eat right — you just never know.”

Stults also lost his best friend when he was a freshman in college to suicide, another seismic shift for him. “I didn’t realize how much it affected me until later. Just appreciating things and it’s easy to take life so seriously and not (realizing) I’m so lucky and life is great.”

“I see his parents occasionally now, and I just saw how that changed their whole lives, absolutely. It made me miss him but be grateful for what I had, I think.”

Watch it

“Enlisted” premieres at 9:30 p.m. Jan. 10 on Fox.

More in Life

From Jasper to Banff: A Canadian adventure in an RV

Jennifer Bardsley plans to take her family on two-week roadtrip through Canada in a tent trailer.

Skippers share sea stories at Marysville speaker series

The Bellingham couple will talk about charter cruises on the historic wooden vessel they rebuilt.

Anxiety, or chronic worry, is a growing problem

Paul Schoenfeld shares four approaches to help keep your anxiety from getting out of control.

Expo in Stanwood can help you get ready for the country

The Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winterschool is set for Jan. 27 at the high school.

Find many of our region’s winter birds in the Skagit Valley

If you love birding, also check out these bird-related festivals, lectures and other events.

What’s new this year for travelers in England, Ireland

The nations are improving tourism infrastructures and adding exhibits to well-known sights.

Curries continues home-cooked Indian cuisine at new location

The restaurant, now located on Evergreen Way, also puts an Indian spin on Northwest cooking.

Bremerton teacher’s comic aims to defy black stereotypes

Boosted by a successful Kickstarter campaign, the series explores greed, power, racism and religion.

Want to buy a house this year? Here’s how to start saving up

Here are five ways to help you put 10 percent of your income per year toward buying a house.

Most Read