Carl Weathers’ Top 5 Performances from ‘Rocky’ and ‘Predator’ to ‘The Mandalorian’: In an era dominated by muscular action figures on the silver screen, Carl Weathers stood out as one of the kindest and most intelligent among them—a man whose intellect and compassion matched the size of his considerable biceps.
A contemporary of 1980s action cinema, Weathers, who passed away at the age of 76 on Thursday, shared the screen with and often co-starred alongside Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. A former Oakland Raiders linebacker, he underwent a cinematic transformation into larger-than-life characters, from Rocky’s formidable in-ring rival to a resilient combatant facing a deadly alien Predator in the jungle. Later in life, he even secured a place in the expansive ‘Star Wars’ universe. Despite his imposing roles, Weathers displayed a good sense of humor, playfully poking fun at his movie stardom and macho persona in works like ‘Happy Gilmore’ and the television series ‘Arrested Development.’
To understand why Carl Weathers was cherished by action-loving kids of the ’70s and ’80s, delve into his five quintessential screen roles
Carl Weathers, Iconic Action Star of ‘Rocky’ Movies, ‘Predator,’ and ‘The Mandalorian,’ Passes Away at 76.
Apollo Creed: The Legacy of the ‘Rocky’ Franchise
Weathers’ most iconic character was Apollo Creed, the brash and overconfident heavyweight champion who initially underestimates Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) in the 1976 Oscar-winning best picture, ‘Rocky.’ Although the final bout ended in a split decision, Weathers crafted a compelling character arc for Apollo throughout the subsequent movies. From his obsession with getting Rocky back in the ring and losing the title in ‘Rocky II’ (1979), to transitioning into a friend, coach, and mentor as Rocky faces Mr. T’s fearsome Clubber Lang in ‘Rocky III’ (1982), and ultimately having his final fight against Dolph Lundgren’s Soviet adversary Ivan Drago in ‘Rocky IV’ (1985). Watching the recent ‘Creed’ films, with Michael B. Jordan portraying Apollo’s son Adonis, now serves as a poignant tribute to Weathers’ life and the lasting impact he made on these films and popular culture.
Al Dillon, ‘Predator’ (1987)
If your sole exposure to ‘Predator’ is the widely circulated social-media GIF featuring the iconic handshake flex-off between Weathers and Schwarzenegger’s formidable arms, it’s time for a cinematic assignment. This sci-fi testosterone fest casts Weathers as a CIA operative and former Vietnam comrade of Schwarzenegger’s character, Dutch. Alongside Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Bill Duke, and others, the film thrusts them into the jungle where a routine rescue mission transforms into a battle for survival against a cosmic menace armed with extraordinary extraterrestrial weaponry. A must-watch for enthusiasts of action cinema, it stands as a fantastic collaboration among ’80s icons.
Jericho Jackson: Unleashing Action in ‘Action Jackson’ (1988)
Weathers finally earned his own star vehicle with this unjustly overlooked and underrated action thriller. In the film, he takes on the role of Action Jackson, a Detroit cop who plays by his own rules, demonstrated by his near-arm-ripping incident and nonchalant response, ‘So? He had a spare.’
With his charm and witty one-liners, Weathers navigates a delightfully campy and over-the-top narrative. The story unfolds as our hero, framed for the murder of his wife (Sharon Stone) by a sinister automobile magnate (the villainous Craig T. Nelson), receives unexpected assistance from a heroin-addicted singer (Vanity). While some may categorize it as ‘of its time,’ we consider it truly timeless.
Derick ‘Chubbs’ Peterson, ‘Happy Gilmore’ (1996)
Weathers demonstrated his comedic prowess in various films, but his breakout as a true comedic actor came alongside Adam Sandler in the enduring sports comedy. Sandler’s hockey enforcer turned golfer aims to settle his grandmother’s debts by taking up golf, seeking guidance from Chubbs, a former golf star turned coach sporting a wooden hand due to an encounter with an alligator. Weathers, drawing on his football background, engages in lively banter with Sandler, showcasing excellent chemistry. Notably, he delivers a memorable and amusing death scene while treating audiences to a bit of Carpenters’ music from the afterlife.
Greef Karga, ‘The Mandalorian’ (2019-present)
While the prospect of witnessing Weathers in a ‘Star Wars’ film would have been enticing, he found a significant supporting role in a series that, truth be told, surpasses many of the intergalactic films – and he even had the pleasure of sharing screen time with Baby Yoda. Weathers portrayed Greef, initially the leader of a bounty hunters’ guild and the primary source for the Mandalorian’s (Pedro Pascal) assignments. As the enigmatic Grogu enters the Mando’s life and transforms him, Greef undergoes a similar change, evolving into a steadfast ally on their journey and assuming the role of High Magistrate on the planet Navarro.
Even in his later years, Weathers seamlessly navigated ‘Star Wars’ battles, proving his versatility and enduring status as an all-time action hero – whether in the ring with Rocky, tangling with a Predator, or navigating the far reaches of the galaxy.
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