From Entourage to his latest project, HBO’s Ballers, Rob Weiss isn’t about writing works of fantasy—he’s out to write about real life. “If it’s rooted in truth and it’s grounded, I think it’s relatable. Ambition, altruism, and aspiration are all positive things we should reflect on. Even if I have some stories that are a little bit heavier—if they’re about redemption and the characters finding light—I think those are the things I choose to focus on,” says Weiss.
These elements run throughout Ballers, which Weiss writes for. In this show, Spencer Strasmore, played by actor Dwayne Johnson, is a retired NFL player focusing his attention on his second act. According to Weiss, Ballers could be viewed as a show about the NFL and the sports entertainment business, but it’s actually a series whose theme could be posed as, “Who are you now?”
“Spencer is segueing into this second chapter of his life. He was an NFL star. Now, who’s he going to be in this second chapter? He’s a guy who’s made a couple bad business moves, he got himself into a little debt, and he wasn’t super cash-positive—so now it’s come around to what he’s going to do in this second chapter.”
Even with Ballers’ popularity on the rise, Weiss has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. He owns the film rights to the life story of Iceberg Slim, an American pimp named Robert Beck who became an influential writer among African-American readers. He’s involved in developing the Hells Angels movie at Fox 2000 Pictures. Both film projects have been in the works for some time, but Weiss is in no rush to get them done—he wants to make sure they come out when they’re good and ready. He’s writing Ballers, he’s working on his cigar brand BG Meyer with Davidoff, and he’s now taking on the most important project of his life—fatherhood. Weiss is a busy man, but that’s how he prefers it.
Even toward the end of our interview, Weiss is humble and reflective, taking on the role of one of his characters as he moves into his second act. “It’s funny because people will say, ‘Oh, congratulations! You’re successful!’ I’m like, I’m not successful. I want more, I want to do more, and I want to create more. There are more challenges I want to achieve, so for me, I really hope it wouldn’t end now because there’s so much more that I want to do. I think I’ll know in the next decade or so if I’ve hit the mark on a bunch more of the things I’ve wanted to do or not. Obviously, most people kind of want the same thing.”
Story by Antoine Reid. Photography by Patrick Hoelck.