We’re reeling from the fact that legendary actor Carl Weathers – best known for classic roles in Predator and as Apollo Creed in Sylvester Stallone‘s originally Rocky and many of its sequels – has died at the age of 76 years old. It was announced by his family earlier today, Friday, Feb. 2.
The statement forom Weather’s family read: “We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Carl Weathers. He died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, February 1st, 2024. … Carl was an exceptional human being who lived an extraordinary life. Through his contributions to film, television, the arts and sports, he has left an indelible mark and is recognized worldwide and across generations. He was a beloved brother, father, grandfather, partner, and friend.”
Weathers was born on Jan. 14, 1948, in New Orleans, and he began his professional career first as a football player, as the linebacker for the Oakland Raiders in 1970 to 1971, playing for a short time for the Canadian Football League, before pursuing acting in the ’70s. Over the course of the ’70s and ’80s, Weathers became an iconic and highly inspirational black actor with a number of key roles in major blockbusters. In recent years, Weathers had been cast as Greef Karga, the head of the Bounty Hunters Guild, in Lucasfilm and Disney+‘s popular “Star Wars” series, The Mandalorian, for which he won an Emmy for his acting, while also directing episodes in Season 2 and 3.
First and foremost, it was Weather’s role of Apollo Creed in the original Sylvester Stallone Rocky in 1976 that put Weathers on the map, creating an important part in the Rocky iconography, appearing in Rocky II in 1979 and in Rocky III in 1982, before his character was killed in 1985’s Rocky IV.
The impact Weathers’ role had from those movies is hard to calculate, but when Black Panther director Ryan Coogler was brought on board to revive the boxing franchise, he cast Michael B. Jordan as Apollo Creed’s son in Creed. That hit movie led to two more Creed films, the most recent one, 2023’s Creed III, directed by Jordan. Jordan is also slated to direct a fourth Creed feature as well.
Just as his tenure in the Rocky movies came to an end, Weathers was cast opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the John McTiernan-directed action-thriller, Predator, a movie that would start its own long-running franchise. Around the same time, Weathers was cast in the leading role of Action Jackson, a spy action movie with Craig T. Nelson, Sharon Stone, and Prince ingénue, Vanity. Weathers received an NAACP Image Award nomination for that film.
Other key roles included a memorable one in Adam Sandler‘s Happy Gilmore, Semi-Tough, and Death Hunt, but he kept working steadily throughtout the ’90s and ’00s, returning to television for appearances on shows like Arrested Development (playing himself), Chicago Fire and its spin-offs (playing Mark Jefferies), and as mentioned before, The Mandalorian.
Weathers also got a loving tribute by Pixar Animation when they introduced the “Combat Carls” toys in Toy Story 4, which of course, Weathers provided the voice.
It’s a very sad day in Hollywood for fans of Weathers’ of all ages, a brilliant actor who successfuly managed to have a 50-year career as a beloved actor, who will be much missed by everyone who knew and worked with him.
UPDATE: Stallone himself posted a sad tribute to Weathers on his Instagram, which you can watch by clicking on the preceding link.