Today, we’re shocked by the unexpected death of actor Carl Weathers, renowned for his portrayal of the beloved character Apollo Creed in the Rocky series. Weathers, whose performances left an indelible mark on Rocky fans, died peacefully in his sleep this morning, as confirmed by a statement released by his family:
“We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Carl Weathers. He died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, February 1st, 2024. … Carl was 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.”
This news comes just three months after the passing of another Rocky legend, actor Burt Young, who died in October, 2023 of natural causes.
Mentions from the Rocky Cast Family
“I was saddened to just hear that Carl Weathers passed away today at 76,” Frank Stallone posted on Instagram.
“I had known Carl since Rocky one, and all through the other movies I did. I thought he was extraordinary in Rocky one, I thought he should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor. He had a good career, he was a good friend. In the Stallone family, we’re all saddened to hear that. He was taken too young – he was always in tip top shape and he was a nice guy and I considered him a friend.”
View this post on Instagram
Sylvester Stallone: Distraught Over Weathers’ Death
In a very moving video posted later in the evening, Sly appeared visibly shaken by the news of Carl Weathers’ death.
“Today is an incredibly sad day for me,” Stallone begins. “I’m so torn up, I can’t even tell you. I’m just trying to hold it in because Carl Weathers was such an integral part of my life, my success, everything about it.”
“I give him incredible credit and kudos because when he walked into that room [during the casting for the original Rocky] and I saw him for the first time, I saw greatness. But I didn’t realize how great. I never could have accomplished what we did with Rocky without him. He was absolutely brilliant. His voice, his size, his power, his athletic ability, but more importantly, his heart, his soul.”
Sly continued, “It’s a horrible loss, and I’m standing here in front of this painting [“Rocky vs Apollo” by LeRoy Neiman] because it was probably the last moment we were ever in the ring together, and I’ll never forget it. He was magic, and I was so fortunate to be part of his life. So, Apollo, keep punching.”
View this post on Instagram
From the Gridiron to the Silver Screen
Born on January 14, 1948, in New Orleans, Carl Weathers embodied the spirit of Apollo Creed, the charismatic heavyweight champion who captured the imagination of audiences worldwide. But before he stepped in front of the cameras, Weathers first made a name for himself on the gridiron.
A standout athlete, he excelled in football, playing collegiately at San Diego State University before pursuing a brief career in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders. Though his time on the football field was short-lived, it was his passion for performance that ultimately led him to pursue a career in acting.
Role as Apollo Creed in “Rocky” Series
From his iconic debut in “Rocky” (1976) to Apollo’s poignant farewell in “Rocky IV” (1985), Weathers mesmerized audiences with his portrayal of Apollo Creed, earning critical acclaim and leaving an indelible mark on the Rocky franchise.
During the making of the original Rocky, Stallone and Weathers didn’t just play tough guys on screen — they became them.
Stallone sweated it out in the ring for months, sculpting his body and mastering the art of boxing to make his portrayal of the Italian Stallion as authentic as it gets. Weathers brought years of athleticism to the table, but didn’t hold back either, hitting the gym hard and trading punches to nail his role as Apollo Creed.
These guys didn’t just show up and throw punches — they put in the work. Stallone choreographed the fight scenes himself, ensuring they packed a real punch on screen. Meanwhile, Weathers got down and dirty, sparring like a champ to perfect his moves and create that electrifying chemistry with Stallone.
Just two weeks ago, Sylvester Stallone posted some rare, never before seen footage of the behind the scenes training for Rocky II, which shows Weathers in the ring.
View this post on Instagram
Their dedication paid off, setting the bar high for every Rocky movie that followed. Stallone and Weathers didn’t just act tough — they lived it, proving that real men don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk.
From “Predator” to “Action Jackson”
But Weathers’ talents extended far beyond the cinematic boxing ring. He showcased his versatility as an actor in a diverse range of roles, captivating audiences with his charisma and presence on screen. From his star turn in “Action Jackson” (1988) to his memorable performance opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Predator” (1987), Weathers proved time and again that he was a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood.
In recent years, Weathers continued to captivate audiences with his portrayal of Greef Karga in the Disney+ Star Wars series, “The Mandalorian.” His portrayal of the leader of the Bounty Hunters Guild endeared him to fans young and old, earning him critical acclaim and a 2021 Emmy nomination for his outstanding performance.
Weathers and Stallone Reunite at 2015 Creed Premiere
One of the last public appearances Carl Weathers made alongside Sylvester Stallone was at the premiere of “Creed” in 2015. It was a memorable sight to witness them together, alongside the younger generation represented by Michael B. Jordan, who is carrying the torch forward with the spinoff series.
Two years later, the heavyweights presented at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards in celebration of Rocky’s 40th anniversary win of a Golden Globe.
Apollo Creed’s Legacy Lives in With “Creed 4”
Rocky franchise producer Irwin Winkler disclosed in late 2023 that a fourth installment of the “Creed” series is currently in the works, with Michael B. Jordan slated to direct.
Jordan, known for his portrayal of heavyweight champ Adonis Creed in the Rocky spinoff films, made his directorial debut with “Creed 3.”
Just last month, FanDuel released a new television commercial featuring Carl Weathers alongside NFL great Rob Gronkowski promoting the Super Bowl “Kick of Destiny 2”.
Weathers is survived by two sons from his marriage to ex-wife Mary Ann Castle (interestingly, Mary Ann is the name of Apollo Creed’s wife). Matthew Brandon Weathers and Jason Anthony Weathers were born to the couple during their decade-long marriage from 1973 to 1983.
As we bid farewell to Carl Weathers, we do so with heavy hearts but also with profound gratitude for the legacy he leaves behind. His portrayal of Apollo Creed will forever be etched in the hearts of Rocky fans, his spirit immortalized in the iconic moments he brought to life on screen.