Don't refer to me as an ex-football player, cracked Bernie Casey, the star of "Brothers," with the infectious laughter of a 15-year-old. "If you do, I'll come after you."

He wants to be known as an actor, painter and poet. And Casey has probably worked longer and harder at these crafts than he has at athletics. He painted since he was in high school, holds a master's degree in fine arts from Bowling Green State University and currently is preparing the 15th exhibit of his paintings. He also has acted in 13 movies and published five books of poetry.

Nevertheless, most people remember Bernie Casey as a flanker with the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams.

"It was just a gig," he says. "But it limits the way people perceive you. That can be frustrating. People have tremendous combinations of talents. A man can be a deep-sea diver and also make china."

Casey, 37, is expressing another facet of his talent in "Brothers." In the film he plays a character modeled on George Jackson, the Soledad Brother, whose writings from prison and violent death helped spark concern for prison reform.

The film was shot on location at the North Dakota State Prison. Casey said he encountered an inmate who said he had taken part in a James Cagney movie made at San Quentin 30 years ago.

Casey first became interested in acting as a youngster in Columbus, Ohia. "I was always a movie fan," he recalls. "You go see a film and you think, 'I could do it better than that.'"

He studied acting while playing football. His other film credits include "The Man Who Fell to Earth," "Conbread, Earl and Me," "Brian's Song" and "Maurie."

He wants to go further. "I would like to get the expertise to be a filmmaker," he explains. "I want to write, edit, produce, direct," and he's currently working on a new book of poems. Stretching his 6-feet, 4-inch, 212-pound frame, which is about the same as his football days, Casey says he'd like to combine the three crafts - painting poetry and film - in one setting.