Carl Weathers, the actor best known for his role as Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” film franchise, has died at age 76. Weathers’ family announced his death on Friday.
After a career that began with roles in blaxploitation films and in small roles in popular television shows such as “Good Times, Kung Fu and Starsky and Hutch, Weathers got his biggest break when he was cast in the role of Creed for the first installment of the “Rocky” franchise. The film went on to win an Academy Award for best picture.
Weathers was a perfect fit for the role of flashy and cocky world champion Creed opposite Sylvester Stallone’s scrappy underdog Rocky Balboa. Weathers recalled the odd tale of his casting when speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in 2015.
“There was nobody to read with, and they said you’re going to read with the writer [Stallone],” Weathers said. “And we read through the scene and at the end of it, I didn’t feel like it had really sailed, that the scene had sailed, and they were quiet and there was this moment of awkwardness, I felt, anyway. So I just blurted out, ‘I could do a lot better if you got me a real actor to work with,'” he says, laughing. “So I just insulted the star of the movie without really knowing it and not intending to.”
Weathers would appear in several other installments of the Rocky franchise before his character was killed off in Rocky IV by Ivan Drago.
Following his involvement in the Rocky films, Weathers had several other big roles in film and television, including Predator, Happy Gilmore, Toy Story 4 and The Mandalorian.
Before his stint in Hollywood, Weathers was a successful athlete in several sports. After playing college football at Long Beach City College and transferring to San Diego State University, Weathers signed with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 1970, playing as a linebacker. He played in seven games in his rookie season, a season in which the Raiders won the AFC West division title before being released after playing in just one game the following season. After playing football in the Canadian Football League for three seasons, Weathers retired from the sport in 1974.
“We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Carl Weathers,” Weathers’ family said in a statement. “He died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, Feb. 1, 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.”