Action Man: Remembering Carl Weathers (1948-2024)
This is fucking surreal; I was somewhat shocked when I learned via social media that prolific actor and action hero Carl Weathers has made the transition.And the timing just couldn't be any worse as it happened during the start of Black History Month. talk about 'irony!"
According to Deadline, Weathers died on Thursday Feb 1st at the age of 76.
"We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Carl Weathers,” his family said in a statement. “He died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, February 1st, 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.”
Weathers signed with the Oakland Raiders and played eight NFL games for Coach John Madden in 1970-71 but decided to take his career in a different turn by going into acting with humble beginnings as an extra in 1973's Magnum Force and appeared as antagonist Yarbro in the 1975 Blaxploitation thriller, Friday Foster starring Pam Grier and Bucktown with both Fred Williamson and of course, Grier.
But it was his charismatic character Apollo Creed opposite Sylvester Stallone in the 1976 Oscar winner Rocky, that helped to boost his career in motion pictures. Weathers as the braggadocious opponent Creed, obviously channeled the legendary Muhammad Ali, and his surprise return in the third installment of the iconic Sports drama where this time, he was Rocky Balboa's mentor who showed him the "Eye of the Tiger."
This was no doubt, one of his more standout performances in film. During the 80's Weathers went on to star or costar in other films such as 1987's The Predator where he played CIA operative Dillon opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. I remember heckling in the theater by referring to him as "Stalker " from G.I. Joe and not gonna lie, that would have been perfect fan casting had there been a live action Joe movie in the latter 80's but at least we got "Duke survives a snake in his heart edition " but I digress.
Then came his first solo action thriller called Action Jackson where he plays tough as nails Sgt Jerricho Jackson who alongside Vanity, made for a underappreciated buddy movie.
Set in Detroit, our titular hero finds himself against a variety of dangers when investigating a corrupt auto magnate played by "Coach's" Craig T. Nelson. This movie has a who's who of familiar faces, including pre–Total Recall and Basic Instinct Sharon Stone along with Bill Duke who also starred in Predator.
Aside of appearing in various television shows like SWAT, Kung Fu, Good Times where he played a jealous husband ready to kick JJ's ass over a misunderstanding. (Funny scene where Weathers referred to Jimmie Walker's character as a "Bag of Bones".)
I wasn't aware that he had a guest role in Six Million Dollar Man, but one of his brief television appearances that stood out was from FX's The Shield, where he played Vic Mackey's friend and mentor Joe Clark in one of the more memorable episodes titled Partners. Weather’s recent television appearances was from the Disney Plus Star Wars Series The Mandalorian, where he played as the Greef Karga, the former lead of the Bounty Hunters’ Guild, which earned him an Emmy for outstanding guest actor!
Stallone in a brief Instagram video pays respect to his Rocky co-star in a humbling tribute, ” My life was forever changed for the better the day I met Carl Weathers. … He was magic, and I was fortunate to be part of his life. … Rest in power and keep punching.”
It was good to learn that he and Sly patched up their differences and personally, Carl deserved a much bigger career, but you know, "Hollywood!"
Rest in Power, Legend and thanks for all your contributions to film, television and of course popular culture. You’ll be sorely missed, fam.