Carl Weathers, Rocky movies’ Apollo Creed, dead at 76

 Carl Weathers made his name playing the cocky and flamboyant Apollo Creed.

Carl Weathers made his name playing the cocky and flamboyant Apollo Creed. Photo: United Artists

Carl Weathers, a former American footballer who became a Hollywood action movie and comedy star, playing nemesis-turned-ally Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies, has died aged 76.

Matt Luber, his manager, said Weathers died on Thursday. His family said he died “peacefully in his sleep”.

As comfortable flexing his muscles on the big screen in Action Jackson as he was joking 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 cocky, undisputed heavyweight world champion in 1976’s Rocky, starring Sylvester Stallone.

“It puts you on the map and makes your career, so to speak.

“But that’s a one-off, so you’ve got to follow it up with something. Fortunately those movies kept coming, and Apollo Creed became more and more in people’s consciousness and welcome in their lives, and it was just the right guy at the right time,” he told The Daily Beast in 2017.

Most recently, Weathers has starred in the Disney+ hit The Mandalorian, appearing in all three seasons.

Creed, who appeared in the first four Rocky movies, memorably died in the ring of 1984’s Rocky IV, going toe-to-toe with the hulking, steroid-using Soviet Ivan Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren.

A bloodied Creed collapses in the ring after taking a vicious beating, twitches and is cradled by Rocky as he dies, inevitably setting up a fight between Drago and Rocky.

Muscles and mirth

Weathers went on to 1987’s Predator, where he flexed his pecs alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura and a host of others, and 1988’s nouveau blaxploitation flick Action Jackson, where he trains his flamethrower on a bad guy and asks, “How do you like your ribs?” before cooking him.

He later added a false wooden hand to play a golf pro for the 1996 comedy classic Happy Gilmore opposite 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 franchise.

He told The Hollywood Reporter that his start in the Rocky franchise was not auspicious. He was asked to read with the writer, Stallone, then unknown.

Weathers read the scene but felt it did not land and so he said “I could do a lot better if you got me a real actor to work with”, he recalled.

“So I just insulted the star of the movie without really knowing it and not intending to.”

He also lied that he had any boxing experience. Weathers is survived by two sons.


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