Thursday marked the end of an era with the passing of notable actor Carl Weathers, known for his performances in a range of films and television shows such as the initial four Rocky films, Predator, The Mandalorian, Happy Gilmore, amongst numerous others. His family made the poignant announcement, expressing that Weathers, at the age of 76, sadly succumbed peacefully during his sleep on the very first day of February, 2024.
Weathers, celebrated for his versatile acting capabilities, left an enduring legacy across a variety of platforms including film, television, the arts, and sports. Born in New Orleans on January 14, 1948, Weathers showcased his talent in more than 75 films and TV shows over five decades, leaving a stamp on global audiences and generations alike.
One of his notable roles was his portrayal of Greef Karga, the leader of the Bounty Hunters Guild, on the Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian. As the show progressed, his character grew close to Pedro Pascal’s Mando. His robust performance in the series not only made him the center of attention in nine episodes over three seasons but also earned him an Emmy nomination in 2021.
Weathers widened his artistic scope by directing two episodes during the second and third seasons of The Mandalorian. Lucasfilm, just last month, signaled the development of a Mandalorian feature film – The Mandalorian & Grogu. However, the audience has yet to discover if any of the original cast, including Pascal, will be included in this forthcoming project set to begin production this year.
In demonstrating his skills in comedy, Weather’s compelling arc in Arrested Development stands out. He stars as a self-styled acting coach audaciously providing advice on economical living, ranging from food buffets to airport rides. Throughout the series’ first four critically-celebrated seasons, he made quite an impression during his four-episode stint.
One of his other underlying roles was that of Police Chief Hampton Forbes, which he played in several episodes of the late 80s and early 90s TV series In the Heat of the Night. This series starred Carroll O’Connor and Howard Rollins, further supporting Weathers’ rich and diversified acting portfolio.
Weathers also expanded his outreach to animation as the voice of Combat Carl in the acclaimed Toy Story 4. Initially bringing the character to life on the small screen in the TV special Toy Story of Terror in 2013, Weathers continued to resonate with fans and critics alike, exploring and validating his creative spectrum.
In the realm of action-filled thrillers, 1987’s Predator accolades Weathers’ skills where he starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, portraying Al Dillon, a CIA operative and Vietnam War veteran. Their characters, who find themselves on the wrong side of a thermo-imaging and cloaking alien life form, left a lasting impact on the genre.
Cleaving his mark in the terrain of sport films, Weathers is most recognized for his role as Apollo Creed, the world heavyweight champion in the 1976 film Rocky. Here, he gives the unsuspected Philly boxer Rocky Balboa portrayed by Sylvester Stallone, an unlikely shot at the title. Weather went on to reprise his role in the subsequent sequels, Rocky II and Rocky III.
As the Rocky series unfolded, Weathers displayed an impressive transformation of the Apollo Creed character from a competitor to a mentor in Rocky III. His character helps train Balboa to face the formidable adversary, Clubber Lang (Mr. T). His final appearance in Rocky IV, however, led to a tragic fate for Apollo at the hands of the relentless Russian heavyweight Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren).
Weathers showed off his comedic timing in Happy Gilmore, as Derick ‘Chubbs’ Peterson, the title character’s golf coach. His character, humorously armed with a wooden prosthetic hand, was a staple of levity and brought a unique zest to the film.
Beyond his acting career, Weathers explored his physical prowess on the football field during his time at San Diego State University. Post-college, he landed a short tenure with the Oakland Raiders and the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League, demonstrating his aptitude across multiple realms.
Weathers began his on-screen journey during his fleeting football career, appearing in popular series such as Good Times, Kung Fu, S.W.A.T., The Six Million Dollar Man and Cannon. As he navigated through the industry, he added Starsky and Hutch, Barnaby Jones, Switch, The Streets of San Francisco to his expanding list of TV appearances.
Before gaining prominence with Rocky, Weathers featured in few blaxploitation films such as Bucktown and Friday Foster. Throughout his career, he starred in movies like Semi-Tough, Force 10 from Navarone, Death Hunt and Hurricane Smith. His array of roles testified to his prowess in engaging with varied genres and audiences.
In addition to his acting career, Weathers embarked on a parallel journey of directing television episodes. In the past few years, he steered the helm of episodes in a variety of shows — Chicago Med, FBI, Law & Order, The Last O.G., Hawaii Five-O, For the People, 18 Wheels of Justice, Strong Medicine and Pensacola: Wings of Gold.