Carl Weathers, who immortalized the role of Apollo Creed opposite Sylvester Stallone in Rocky and three of its sequels, has died. He was 76.
Weathers’ family announced that the actor died Tuesday. No cause of death was given.
“We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Carl Weathers,” his family said in a statement sent to multiple news outlets.
“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.”
Among his other notable screen roles were as Colonel Al Dillon opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator, and the voice of the military action figure Combat Carl in Toy Story 4.
With his muscular frame and imposing physicality, Carl Weathers cut an intimidating figure on movie screens, leading Hollywood to cast the former athlete in action roles.
He was a star football player at San Diego State before launching a brief career in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders. He segued into acting in the early 70s and eventually landed the role of heavyweight boxing world champion Apollo Creed in the 1976 movie Rocky.
As the movie’s main antagonist, Weathers projected confidence and swagger in contrast to Sylvester Stallone’s shy and mumbling Rocky Balboa. Their on-screen chemistry was formidable, culminating in the movie’s grueling fight sequence in which both boxers are brutally pummeled over multiple rounds.
Apollo Creed was reportedly inspired by a host of famous boxers including Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson. But Weathers made him a unique and complex movie character who became a household name as recognizable as Rocky Balboa.
Weathers would reprise the role in Rocky II, III, and IV. Over the course of the movies, Apollo Creed evolved from Rocky’s nemesis to close friend.
The legacy of Apollo Creed lives on in the Creed movies, with Michael B. Jordan playing his son, Adonis.
Weathers starred opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1987 alien-action movie Predator, another box-office smash.
The actor eventually got a chance to headline his own movie, Action Jackson (1988), an action comedy that was a modet box office success.
Weathers played small roles in a handful of Adam Sandler movies, including Happy Gilmore. More recently, he had a recurring role in the Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian.