Carl Weathers, the actor known for roles in Rocky, Predator and The Mandalorian, has died. He was 76. His family said in a statement Friday, according to Deadline and Variety, that Weathers “died peacefully in his sleep” on Thursday, Feb. 1.
“We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Carl Weathers,” said the family, adding, “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.”
Weathers, a former NFL linebacker, starred as boxer Apollo Creed opposite Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky films, starting with the 1976 original. He costarred with Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987’s Predator, and he most recently starred as Greef Karga on the Star Wars series The Mandalorian, which earned him an Emmy nomination.
Growing up in New Orleans, Weathers started performing in plays as early as grade school. In high school, athletics took him down another path but he would reunite with his first love later in life.
Weathers played college football at San Diego State University — he majored in theater — and went on to play for one season in the NFL, for the Oakland Raiders, in 1970.
“When I found football, it was a completely different outlet,” says Weathers told the Detroit News. “It was more about the physicality, although one does feed the other. You needed some smarts because there were playbooks to study and film to study, to learn about the opposition on any given week.”
After the Raiders, he joined the Canadian Football League, playing for two years while finishing up his studies during the offseason at San Francisco State University. He graduated with a B.A. in drama in 1974.