For those of us from my generation, the name Carl Weathers probably brings to mind his performances in Rocky or Predator. Yet, the younger crowd might recognize him from his role in The Mandalorian. He was one of those rare actors who had a lengthy life and career, to become a star that will be remembered by multiple generations.

Born on January 14, 1948, in New Orleans, Louisiana, Carl showed a natural talent for sports, particularly football, where he earned a scholarship to a private high school, Long Beach City College, and later to San Diego State University. However, he wasn’t one of the jocks who picked on the theatre kids. In fact, just the opposite, he joined them, receiving his degree in theatre. From there, he went on to play for the Oakland Raiders in 1970 as a linebacker. However, his time on the team was short. After being cut from the Raiders, he played in the Canadian Football League for a few years before retiring from football in 1974 to focus on his acting career.

He started doing small parts on TV in shows such as Good Times (1974 – 1979) and Starsky and Hutch (1975 – 1979, as well as a few blaxploitation films, such as Friday Foster (1975). However, it was his breakout performance as the charismatic Apollo Creed in Rocky (1976) that shot him to fame. A role that he thought he would not get after he insulted the film’s star and writer Sylvester Stallone. When auditioning and reading lines opposite of Stallone, not realizing that he was also starring in the film, Weathers said, “I could do a lot better if you got me a real actor to work with.” It turns out that the insult helped him gain role, as Stallone felt that it was something Apollo Creed would say. Despite having no prior boxing experience, Weathers took on the character of a heavyweight boxer and used his natural athleticism to convince audiences. He reprised the role for three more films, as Creed’s character expanded from Rocky’s adversary to his mentor and trainer.

Following his role in Rocky, Weathers continued to play tough guys in films like Force 10 from Navarone (1978) and as a badass soldier alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator (1987). Having held his own against the two action greats in the prime of their careers, he was given an opportunity to star in Action Jackson (1988). Unfortunately, the film did not perform well, but it didn’t seem to damage his career as he remained busy throughout the remainder of the 80s and 90s, working on both TV and film projects. Showing that he had range beyond action films, he appeared with Adam Sandler in the comedy Happy Gilmore (1996), as Chubbs Peterson, a former pro-golfer who lost his hand to an alligator.

Weathers continued to be a consistent presence in film and television, most recently with a standout performance as Greef Karga in The Mandalorian (2019 – 2023).

In addition to his acting career, Weathers was also involved in various organizations such as the Big Brothers Association and the U.S. Olympic Committee, assisting in the careers of athletes across a range of sports including gymnastics, wrestling, swimming, and judo.

Car Weathers will always be remembered by his children and grandchildren, as well as the rest of us, for his incredible talent, charisma, and the lasting influence he had on the world of film.

January 14, 1948 – February 1, 2024