“Don’t let this calm exterior fool you, baby,” smiles Carl Weathers. “I’m straining to keep my equilibrium. Just a couple of years ago nobody knew who I was. Then it was Rocky, Close Encounters, Force 10 From Naverone, Semi-Tough, Rocky II. Ali invites me to a party. Don Rickles says nice things about me. I meet Alex Haley. Don’t think I don’t keep waiting to wake up. It’s just mind-blowing.”
At 31, Weathers has finally learned to handle it. He set foot on the Rocky road to raves by convincing producer Irwin Winkler “I’d knocked out everybody along the Canadian border from the Atlantic to the Pacific,” he recalls.
“I’d never had a glove on, but by the time I had to step into the ring, I knew what I was doing.”
As for his acting style, “I don’t want to be the second Brando or another Pacino, I want to be the first one,” he says.
Pre-Apollo Creed, Weathers was less confident. While playing on the special teams for the Oakland Raiders some years back, Weathers wanted to meet a schoolteacher who lived in his apartment building and fumbled it.
“I told her I admired her thumb, green thumb – the plants. she was nice enough not to laugh in my face,” he grins. Six years ago he married Maryann Castle, unconcerned by the question of race.
“I was too damn worried about the male-female thing to even think about the other,” he says. “I’d come a long way from my New Orleans ghetto, but not so far in my insecurity with women.
“Growing up, people in my neighborhood tended to get in a downward spiral. I was real afraid of falling into that vortex and never being able to get out,” he says.
For him, football led to commercials and then TV acting.
Now Matthew, 3, and Jason, 5 months, are growing up secure in the Weathers’ sumptuous San Fernando Valley home. Their father wants to start a production company to do “films for kids with no self-confidence. God, I care about those people, because I was one of them,” says Carl.
“I still sometimes have to reassure myself that I’m okay, that I should love myself. If I can learn that, anyone can – ’cause I was one scared little boy.”