- Actor Carl Weathers passed away at the age of 76, leaving behind a legacy of achievements and influence in the entertainment industry.
- Weathers played a significant role in making actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone shine in supporting roles.
- Without Weathers' character Apollo Creed, the Rocky franchise would not have been as impactful.
On 1 February 2024, actor Carl Weathers died in his sleep. He was 76 years old. The reaction from the entertainment world to the news proved unanimous: There was sadness he was gone, but a celebration for all he achieved and his wide-reaching influence in the industry. From Rocky to The Mandalorian, Weathers left an undeniable mark on pop culture spanning five decades.
Weathers, though, never received his flowers for being one of the best action stars of any decade. Audiences continue to debate if Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone is the greatest of all time; yet, we overlook the influential part Weathers had in making them look like total stars in key supporting roles. No matter what was required of him, no matter how big or small the part was, the former American football player showed up and delivered. Now is a good a time as any to look back and remember him as one of the best.
Without Apollo Creed, there is no Rocky
The first Rocky film sees Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) and Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) as rivals. Creed is at the top of the mountain as the world heavyweight champion, while Rocky receives the opportunity to step into the ring with the champ and see if he can go the distance. There’s a cockiness and arrogance to Creed’s demeanor, believing this will be an easy exhibition fight for him to showcase his boxing abilities and charisma. However, Rocky proves everyone wrong. He lasts the full fight, losing by a split decision but winning Creed’s respect.
Rocky II becomes Creed’s story, as he seeks to change the perception that he fixed the fight to win. He has something to prove, so he taunts and goads Rocky into a rematch, which he loses – fair and square. Ultimately, he retires from boxing, but he gains everyone’s respect for putting his reputation on the line and providing a thrilling fight. From there on out, Rocky and Creed establish an endearing friendship, as Creed acts as both a mentor and confidante to the man who beat him. Creed appears at the most pivotal moments in the franchise, inspiring and motivating Rocky, while it’s his death (after a heartbreaking fight against Ivan Drago in Rocky IV) that reignites the fire in Rocky.
Unquestionably, Weathers’ Creed undergoes a transformative arc in the Rocky series. He develops from Rocky’s biggest rival to best friend over the course of the character’s journey, both serving as a warning of what can go wrong and what can go right in the sport of boxing. More importantly, the chemistry between Weathers and Stallone is electric on screen. Not only are their fights the action highlights of the franchise, but they also carry the deeper emotional scenes. Remove this brotherhood dynamic and the Rocky story isn’t as powerful and poignant.
Providing Dutch the necessary backup in Predator
While there’s no doubt it’s Dutch Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who takes down the Yautja in Predator, he isn’t alone in his quest. Dutch has a team (even though they all get gutted) and he meets up with his old army buddy, Colonel Al Dillon (Carl Weathers), in the jungle. Dillon isn’t honest about the nature of the mission or why Dutch and his men are really out there, but the CIA operative proves his mettle and worth in the end.
Weathers’ Dillon plays a crucial part in the story as he faces off against the alien hunter. Not only does he decide to face the Predator on his own, mostly out of revenge for killing the team, but he also does it to buy time for everyone else to escape. If Dillon’s sacrifice doesn’t happen, it’s unlikely Dutch would be able to get to the chopper at all.
Once again, Weathers demonstrates his ability to play an important supporting role in the overall narrative. His character might not be the one to blow the Predator to smithereens, but it’s unlikely Dutch would have had the chance were it not for Dillon’s heroism.
Carl Weathers knew how to create memorable characters
Carl Weathers’ impressive filmography saw him take on several notable parts in film and television. However, he possessed an ability that not all actors have – and that’s to make do with the role, regardless of how big or small it is.
Take one of his last final parts in The Mandalorian as an example. Weathers plays Greef Karga in the Star Wars show. Initially, it was meant to be a small role for a few episodes, but showrunner Jon Favreau and the writers liked Weathers’ characterization of Greef so much that they found a way to bring him back for 10 episodes. This also led to Weathers directing episodes of the series.
In an industry that can be self-indulgent and selfish, Weathers showed a quality that many actors could learn from. He understood how to serve the story being told, having the uncanny ability to look beyond what’s on the page and to see the bigger picture. By doing so, he made full use of his screen time and created memorable characters, even if they didn’t have the bulk of the lines. Whether it was as Al Dillon, Apollo Creed, or Derick “Chubbs” Peterson in Happy Gilmore, Carl Weathers turned the ordinary into extraordinary. For that reason alone, he deserves to be remembered as one of the best of his generation.