Carl Weathers, known for his iconic role as Apollo Creed in the ‘Rocky’ film series, passed away on February 1 at the age of 76. His death has left a deep impact on both the movie industry and fans across the globe who admired his work. Weathers’ journey to becoming Apollo Creed is a fascinating tale of determination and charisma, which eventually convinced Sylvester Stallone that Weathers was the perfect fit for the role.
Initially, the character of Apollo Creed was to be played by professional boxer Ken Norton, but due to circumstances that remain somewhat of a mystery, Norton exited the project. This opened the door for Weathers to step into the spotlight. During the casting process, Weathers had a memorable audition experience. Faced with no one to act alongside, he was told he’d be reading the scene with the film’s writer. After performing the scene, a palpable silence filled the room, resulting in an uncomfortable pause. It was then that Weathers confidently stated, “I could do a lot better if you got me a real actor to work with.” The catch? The writer was none other than Sylvester Stallone himself, the star of the movie.
This bold statement could have backfired, but instead, it secured Weathers’ place in the film. His assertiveness and demeanor proved that he embodied the energy and arrogance needed to bring the character of Apollo Creed – the charismatic and proud boxer – to life. This role etched Weathers’ name into Hollywood history.
Weathers’ rise to fame came after a remarkable athletic career. Born in New Orleans, he excelled as a professional American football player. His journey started at the university level, where he played for San Diego State University under the legendary coach Don Coryell. His athletic prowess led him to play for the Oakland Raiders, coached by the renowned John Madden. Weathers reached the prestigious AFC Conference final with the team in 1970 before being released after just one game in 1971, with Madden citing that he was “too sensitive.”
However, this sensitivity that Madden saw as a weakness would become a cornerstone of Weathers’ transition into the arts. After his time with the Oakland Raiders, Weathers played several seasons with the BC Lions in the Canadian Football League (CFL) in Vancouver. It was during this period that he used the offseasons to cultivate another passion – acting. He enrolled at San Francisco State University, where he graduated with a degree in dramatic arts in 1974.
Upon leaving his football career behind, Weathers set his sights on the entertainment industry. His big break, portraying Apollo Creed in ‘Rocky,’ transformed his life and launched a legendary acting career.
Carl Weathers might have began as an elite athlete, but he will forever be remembered as a celebrated actor who captivated audiences with his compelling performances. His legacy lives on in the characters he portrayed, inspiring countless fans and leaving an indelible mark on the silver screen.