Carl Weathers ()Carl Weathers () © Copyright

Carl Weathers: BTWT

The former Oakland Raiders linebacker left Gridiron to act, starring in classics like Rocky and Predator. So what has he learned? 

When I finished my audition for the role of Apollo Creed there was silence from the producers and I thought I’d blown it. I had been reading for the part opposite a guy who had only been introduced to me as the writer of the film. So I said, “You know, if you get me a real actor to read with I could do a better job.” I didn’t know that the writer was going to star in the movie and he was Sylvester Stallone. I maintain to this day that I only got the job because Stallone wanted to beat the hell out of me.

Boxing films connect with people because there is a gladiator in all of us. When we were kids, we were swashbucklers in the back yard; we always played games that were about conquering. In Rocky there’s the idea that if you don’t give up, you have a chance, but if you give up your chance is over. It’s the idea of defeating the defeatist within oneself by not giving up. 

Muhammad Ali was a big Rocky fan and we sparred a few times when we saw each other in public, in hotel lobbies and on the streets of Beverly Hills. He liked Apollo Creed because he was bombastic and Ali knew we had stolen certain elements from the real heavyweight champion. He always treated me well and I really appreciated that, because as a young actor it gave
me confidence.

I spent a lot of time in the gym before we started filming Predator. I was about to share the screen with Mr Universe [Arnold Schwarzenegger] and there was no way my athletics ego would allow me to not look as good as him. It was important to not only get in the gym but stay there as much as I could. We all did it. 

Predator was a larger-than-life movie, so every guy in it wanted to appear larger than life. When we weren’t getting up at 3am to work out before the shoot started in the morning, we were running the streets of Puerto Vallarta [Mexico] or up the hillside, trying to look as good as possible, be cut up and in great shape and not be missed on screen while standing next to Mr Universe. All that testosterone in the jungle and everyone pumping up and trying to outdo the guy next to him really helped make the movie so memorable. 

The name for the film Action Jackson came about from a conversation with an Australian crew member on Predator. He was talking about this woman he wanted to have an affair with and said if he had the chance he “would be in like Action Jackson”. And I thought, there is the title for my film.

Playing myself in Arrested Development was a lot of fun. The producer allowed me to run with this idea of being the cheapest guy in the world. I loved it from the moment they asked me to be in the show. 

 

Carl Weathers stars in Chicago Justice on the Universal Channel at 9pm on Thursdays

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