Carl Weathers

Hollywood Mourns Passing of Carl Weathers, Legendary Actor Known for ‘Rocky’ and ‘The Mandalorian’ Roles, Dead at 76

Carl Weathers, the charismatic actor best known for playing rival-turned-friend Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” films and Greef Karga in “The Mandalorian,” has died at the age of 76. Weathers died on February 2, 2024, as a result of complications from newly diagnosed cancer. His acting career spanned five decades and had an indelible impact on both film and television. Weathers’ muscular physique, million-dollar smile, and smooth line delivery added warmth and powerful screen presence to each role. His unexpected death elicited somber reactions in Hollywood and around the world.

Early Life and Football Career

Carl Weathers was born on January 14, 1948, in New Orleans, Louisiana, and grew up to be an outstanding two-sport athlete. He excelled in both football and track and field events at Long Beach Polytechnic High School. Weathers received a football scholarship to San Diego State University, where he played linebacker and helped lead the Aztecs to multiple winning seasons. After graduating in 1970, Weathers briefly played for the Oakland Raiders and the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League before retiring to pursue an acting career full-time. This athletic background prepared his body and competitive spirit for the iconic physical roles he played throughout his filmography.

Breakout role as Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” films

Carl Weathers first established himself in popular culture with his electrifying portrayal of boxing legend Apollo Creed in 1976’s “Rocky.” The character was portrayed as an egotistical heavyweight champion who gave washed-up fighter Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) an unlikely chance at the title.

Over the course of four sequels from 1979 to 1985, audiences grew to love Apollo as his friendship and respect for Rocky grew when they faced off in the ring. Weathers’ most moving performances came in “Rocky III” as a humbled Apollo who returns from retirement to face a brutal defeat, and later in “Rocky IV” when Apollo is killed by Soviet champ Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Weathers developed Apollo into a complete, nuanced character who served as the franchise’s anchor through subtle character shifts throughout the series. His tragic yet inspirational death scene in “Rocky IV” is one of the most devastating moments in boxing film history.

Action Film Career Highlights

In addition to starring in the ongoing “Rocky” saga through the 1980s, Carl Weathers amassed an impressive resume of action-oriented film roles that allowed him to showcase his athletic abilities on film. Weathers reunited with Sylvester Stallone for the arm wrestling battles of “Over the Top” in 1987, immediately following his first collaboration with him. Some of his most memorable performances came in the Predator film franchise, opposite stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger (“Predator,” 1987) and Danny Glover (“Predator 2,” 1990).

Outside of these major franchises, Weathers delivered admirable supporting performances in combat-heavy films such as “Action Jackson” with Craig T. Nelson and 1993’s “Hurricane Smith” with Yuen Biao of Hong Kong action cinema fame. Weathers had a talent for balancing intimidating physical presence with a light touch of warmth and humor, regardless of the film.

Transition into Television Roles

As the twenty-first century dawned, Carl Weathers began to gradually translate his talents into appearances on television. He acted in popular primetime shows like “Arrested Development” and “The Shield,” as well as TV movies and miniseries. Weathers found another career-defining role when he joined Disney+’s hit series “The Mandalorian” in 2019 as Greef Karga, the leader of a bounty hunters guild. 

Weathers’ performance as a grizzled but genial authority figure earned him new recognition and fans. Had recently joined the cast of the comedy film “Government Cheese” and signed on for a recurring role in the “Star Wars” spinoff series “Ahsoka” alongside Rosario Dawson, adding to his late-career revival.

Reaction and Remembrances From Hollywood

Carl Weathers’ death at the age of 76 stunned the entertainment industry, prompting an outpouring of tributes on social media platforms. Sylvester Stallone issued a lengthy statement mourning the loss of his dear friend and irreplaceable co-star. “Rocky” director John G. 

Avildsen described Weathers as “an effortless performer who brought joy with that million-watt smile.” Arnold Schwarzenegger reflected on great laughs shared with his “Predator” co-star over the years. Pedro Pascal, Weathers’ costar on “The Mandalorian,” described him as “a true legend who was amazing to work with.” Costars, directors, and collaborators ranging from Ryan Coogler to Michael B. Jordan praised Weathers’ kindness, professionalism, and iconic character work throughout his long career. With his death, Hollywood lost a pioneering African-American talent and a universally adored staple of American cinema.


Carl Weathers was one of the few actors who could play both intimidating physical roles and warm, charming character roles. His breakout performance as boxer Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” franchise is still considered one of the best in cinematic sports history. Weathers supplemented this with a series of memorable action film appearances in the 1980s, before seamlessly transitioning into beloved television roles decades later. As Greef Karga in “The Mandalorian,” he used his gruff charisma to anchor a cast of newcomers. The news of Weathers’ death at the age of 76 sparked widespread grief over the loss of a Hollywood icon who left an indelible mark across genres. However, his characters will be remembered as icons, particularly Apollo Creed, the tragic soul who captivated audiences while forging a timeless bond with Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa over four decades on film.

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