Michael B. Jordan and Dolph Lundgren also remembered Weathers, who played Apollo Creed in the franchise
Friends and colleagues are remembering the late Carl Weathers.
The New Orleans-born actor known for roles in Rocky, Predator and The Mandalorian "died peacefully in his sleep" on Thursday, per a statement from his family, according to Deadline and Variety. He was 76.
In Sylvester Stallone’s 1976 Best Picture Oscar winner and many of its sequels, Weathers, a former NFL linebacker, played heavyweight boxing champion Apollo Creed. Following his passing, Weathers’ family of costars in the hit film franchise paid tribute to the star.
“We lost a legend yesterday,” Stallone, 77, wrote in an Instagram statement, alongside an emotional tribute video. “My life was forever changed for the better the day I met Carl Weathers. Rest in power and keeping punching."
In his video, Stallone said he "never could have accomplished what we did with Rocky without" Weathers.
"He was absolutely brilliant," Stallone continued. "His voice, his size, his power, his athletic ability, but more importantly, his heart, his soul. It’s a horrible loss.”
Stallone stood in front of a painting of Rocky fighting Apollo in the video, noting that it captured one of the last moments he and Weathers shared inside a boxing ring.
“He was magic, and I was so fortunate to be part of his life,” Stallone concluded. “So, Apollo, keep punching.”
Michael B. Jordan, 36, who played Apollo’s son Adonis "Donnie" Creed in 2015’s sequel Creed, shared a tribute to the man who played his onscreen father. In a story posted on his Instagram account Friday, the actor-director included a photo of Weathers with the caption, “We lost a Legend.”
Although Weathers did not collaborate on Creed, in 2015 the veteran actor gave his seal of approval to Jordan after seeing the film. "You did well for the CREED name!” he wrote in a tweet to Jordan, as Entertainment Weekly reported at the time. “Congrats on [a] great job, my friend. May your success continue."
Rocky IV star Dolph Lundgren, 66, shared a statement about costarring with Weathers in the 1985 film.
“I was saddened to hear the news this morning," said the actor, who played boxer Captain Ivan Drago. "Along with the world, I will miss Carl. He was a great actor, a terrific athlete and a good friend. I cherish many special memories of Carl, both professionally and personally. Like Apollo Creed, he had that special charm that always brought a smile to your face. 🙏."
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In their statement announcing the news Friday, Weathers' family called him “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 studied theater and played football at San Diego State University. In 1974 he retired from professional football to pursue acting, earning roles in blaxploitation film and television.
In a 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Weathers recounted how he booked the role of Creed. After reading in an audition opposite Stallone as Rocky and feeling “a moment of awkwardness,” he remembered, “I just blurted out, ‘I could do a lot better if you got me a real actor to work with’ … So I just insulted the star of the movie without really knowing it and not intending to.”
But Stallone cast him, he added, apparently because that insult was in character for Creed. “Sometimes the mistakes are the ones that get you the gig.”
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