Chris Weidman makes a living by voluntarily stepping into a fenced-off area they call “the cage” and punching and kicking the person in front of him more times than he gets punched and kicked.
He has stared down legends of his sport in Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort.
But, standing under the bright lights with legends of a different arena had the former UFC middleweight champion from Baldwin a little out of his element.
“I was really nervous because it was my first time acting,” Weidman said Wednesday at UFC 205 media day about guest-starring along with Adam Sandler on the CBS comedy series “Kevin Can Wait” starring Kevin James. “And then also it’s those two comedy legends, and there’s this guy Chris Weidman who’s never even acted before and I’m doing all these lines with them, so it was very intimidating.”
Weidman, who fights Yoel Romero on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in the UFC’s New York City debut, and James are close friends. Both grew up on Long Island, and James works out and trains with Ray Longo, Weidman’s trainer.
Weidman spent four days on set filming his scenes for the episode that aired Monday. He played a rookie police officer named Nick Dawson, the guy who replaced James’ character as partner to Sandler’s character. He had four separate scenes, all of which focused on how awesome he was as a new partner to Sandler, which drew the ire of James and the laughs of the crowd.
“When I first got my script, they had a lot of lines for me, I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I’m nervous.’ And Kevin I think was nervous for me because he didn’t really know how I was going to do.”
Weidman said James offered to not shoot his scenes in front of a live audience.
“It was nerve-wracking, I was almost with him,” Weidman said. “I ended up saying, ‘All right, let’s just do the live audience, and I was happy.’ By the end of the whole thing I wanted more lines, it was so much fun. And it was because, it was intimidating working with Kevin and Adam for my acting debut, but they were so comfortable on camera that it made me feel more comfortable as if we were just having normal conversations hanging out.”
James was cracking jokes at Weidman during the early hours on set, the former All-America wrestler said. But that changed as the official taping drew closer. James’ chides turned to confidence-inspiring commentary.
“It was just so much fun,” Weidman said. “It was an honor. I don’t know how many people beat that for their acting debut.”