Numerous tributes have been paid to former NFL player turned Hollywood actor Carl Weathers, who starred in “Rocky,” “Predator” and “The Mandalorian.”
Carl Weathers, linebacker-turned-actor and star of the films “Rocky” and “The Mandalorian” has died
Carl Weathers, a former NFL linebacker who became a star of Hollywood action films and comedies, playing nemesis-turned-ally Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” films, facing off against Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Predator” and teaching golf in as a friend”, died. He was 76 years old.
Matt Luber, his manager, said Weathers died Thursday. His family released a statement saying he died “peacefully in his sleep.”
“Carl Weathers will always be a legend,” Schwarzenegger wrote on Instagram. “An amazing athlete, an amazing actor and an amazing person. We couldn’t have made ‘Predator’ without him. And we definitely wouldn’t have had as much fun making it.”
As comfortable flexing his muscles on the big screen in “Action Jackson” as he was goofing around on the small screen in shows like “Arrested Development,” Weathers was perhaps most closely associated with Creed, who made his first appearance as the arrogant and undisputed world heavyweight champion in the 1976 film “Rocky”, starring Sylvester Stallone.
“It puts you on the map and creates your career, so to speak. But it’s a one-off, so you have to follow it up with something. Luckily those movies kept coming, and Apollo Creed became more and more popular among people. awareness and reception in them lives, and he was just the right person at the right time,” he told The Daily Beast in 2017.
Most recently, Weathers starred in the Disney+ hit “The Mandalorian,” appearing in all three seasons.
“We lost an icon,” former “Predator” co-star Jesse Ventura wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Carl Weathers was a phenomenal talent, a true professional and a dear friend.”
Creed, who appeared in the first four “Rocky” films, died memorably in the ring of 1984’s “Rocky IV,” going toe-to-toe with the hulking, steroid-using Soviet Ivan Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren. Before entering the ring, James Brown sang “Living in America” with the showgirls and Creed appeared on a balcony wearing a Star-Spangled Banner shorts and vest combo and an Uncle Sam hat, dancing and taunting Dragon .
Weathers moved on to 1987’s “Predator,” where he showed off his pecs alongside Ventura, Schwarzenegger and a host of others, and 1988’s nouveau blaxploitation film “Action Jackson,” where he points his flamethrower at a bad guy and asks : “How do you like your ribs?” before roasting it.
He later added a fake wooden hand to play a golf pro in the 1996 comedy classic “Happy Gilmore” alongside Adam Sandler and starred in Dick Wolf’s short-lived spin-off series “Chicago Justice” in 2017 and in Disney’s “The Mandalorian.” earning an Emmy Award nomination in 2021. He also voiced Combat Carl in the “Toy Story” series.
Sandler hailed his friend on social media, calling him a “great man” and “a true legend” – “So much fun to be around all the time. Smart as hell. Loyal as hell. Funny as hell.”
Weathers grew up admiring actors like Woody Strode, whose combination of physique and acting ability in “Spartacus” left its mark. Others he idolized included actors Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte and athletes Jim Brown and Muhammad Ali, stars who broke the mold and the color barrier.
“There are so many people that came before me that I admired and whose success I wanted to emulate, and who just reached the benchmarks that they reached in terms of success, that created a path that I was able to to go through and find success as a result. And hopefully I can inspire someone else to do good work too,” he told the Detroit News 2023. “I guess I’m just a lucky guy.”
Having appeared in numerous films and TV shows, including “Good Times”, “The Six Million Dollar Man”, “In the Heat of the Night” and “Starsky & Hutch”, as well as fighting the Nazis alongside Harrison Ford in “Force 10″ From Navarone,” Weathers landed his role in Knockout: Creed. He told The Hollywood Reporter that his start in the iconic franchise was not auspicious.
He was asked to read with the then unknown writer Stallone. Weathers read the scene but felt it didn’t work and blurted out, “I could do a lot better if I found a real actor to work with,” he recalled. “So I simply insulted the star of the film without knowing it and without intending it.” He also lied that he had some boxing experience.
Later in life, Weathers developed a passion for directing, directing episodes of “Silk Stalkings” and the Lorenzo Lamas vehicle “Renegade.” He directed an episode of the third season of “The Mandalorian”.
Weathers introduced himself to another generation by portraying himself as an opportunistic, extremely thrifty actor who becomes involved with the dysfunctional clan at the heart of “Arrested Development.”
Weathers leaves behind two children.