Iconic Careers: Carl Weathers’ Best Performances
Today, we received the sad news that iconic actor Carl Weathers has passed away at 76. The man, the legend, the legend appeared in over 80 TV shows and films throughout his fascinating career dating back until the early 70s. Most of us know him as Apollo Creed in the Rocky franchise. However, the NFL-turned-player showed incredible versatility during his run, including memorable voice work and parts in comedy series such as Arrested Development.
As a tribute to our fallen hero, we present our favorite Carl Weathers roles, listed in no particular order.
Credit Apollo – Rocky Franchise
Let’s get the big one out of the way first. If Weather’s only performance had been Apollo Creed, it would have been enough to enshrine him in the Hall of Fame. A memorable character who first starts out as a riff on Muhammad Ali before becoming Rocky’s BFF in Rocky III and Rocky IV, Creed is bold, larger than life, charismatic, and one of the few to defeat Stallion Italian in the ring. His violent loss at the hands of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV is still heart-pounding cinema at a high level, and perhaps, as Sylvester Stallone admits, a misstep that the franchise never fully recovered from . The Rocky franchise is as big to Weathers as it is to Stallone, and it just wasn’t the same without him.
Chubbs – Happy Gilmore
Weathers clearly didn’t take himself too seriously, as evidenced by his hilarious turn as Chubbs, the infamous tutor who teaches Adam Sandler how to pose in 1996’s Happy Gilmore. A former golfer, Chubbs’ life took a turn for the worse when he lost his hand to an alligator (!), an event that ended his professional career. Weep not, viewer, because Chubbs comes in just in time to help Gilmore’s attempt to beat the powerful shooter McGavin. Although he ultimately pays for this effort with his life, he is able to enjoy peace and tranquility in the next life.
Itself – Arrested Development
Arrest Development is one of the great TV shows (for its first three seasons, at least), and it made great use of its ensemble cast and a handful of terrific guest performances. Weather only appears sporadically but makes the most of its limited screen time. Here, the actor plays a version of himself, a former star actor who struggles with a relationship with a steward who cracks Tobias Fünke (David Cross) while trying to become a a movie star. “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” he says as Tobias throws food into the trash. “There’s still plenty of meat on that bone. You take this home, throw it in the pot, add broth, potatoes – baby, you got a stew going!” Gets me every time.
Combat Carl – Toy Story Tale of Terror
Weathers enjoyed a career in voice acting, bringing characters to life in films such as Eight Crazy Nights and Balto III and video games such as Mercenaries and (most recently) The Artful Escape. However, his best gig came in 2013 when he voiced Combat Carl in Pixar’s horror Toy Story of Terror. Carl, a decorated soldier/action figure who speaks in the third person, helps Jessie, the Yodeling Cowgirl, as she escapes from a seedy motel and delivers one helluva pep talk. It’s a short performance that somehow steals the show. Weathers reprized the character in Toy Story 4 and hopefully will appear in Toy Story 5, assuming they pre-recorded his performance.
Dillon – Predator
As much as I love Creed, I always see Weathers as Dillon, the shadowy CIA operative caught in a jungle skirmish against a violent, tech-heavy exterior in John McTiernan’s Predator. Starring opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger is no small feat, but Weathers stands out thanks to an intense performance that makes you feel for the man despite his devious ways.
It helps that he’s the only character in the film who enjoys anything close to an arc, changing from an unreliable turncoat to a noble friend willing to die for his friends. There’s a real sense of history between Arnold’s Dutch and Weathers’ Dillon, and it’s a shame the two stars didn’t work together on more projects if only to give us more of this:
Rest in peace, legend. We will miss you.