Co-stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone pay tribute to NFL linebacker-turned-actor.

Carl Weathers, who starred as nemesis-turned-friend Apollo Creed in the Rocky film franchise, has died. He was 76.

“Carl was an exceptional human being who lived an extraordinary life,” Weathers’s family said in a statement on Friday.

“Through his contributions to film, television, the arts and sports, he has left an indelible mark and is recognised worldwide and across generations.”

Carl Weathers, a former NFL linebacker who became a Hollywood action star, was perhaps best known for playing Rocky Balboa’s rival-turned-ally in the film Rocky and its three sequels opposite Sylvester Stallone.

Rocky, released in 1976 and starring the largely unknown Stallone, became an unexpected commercial and critical hit, nabbing the Oscar for best picture and catapulting both actors to prominence.

Weathers also had memorable roles as the brash Colonel Al Dillon in the 1987 film Predator, starring alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, and as one-handed golf coach Chubbs Peterson in the Adam Sandler-led comedy, Happy Gilmore.

Most recently, Weathers starred in the Star Wars spin-off series, The Mandalorian, a role for which he received an Emmy nomination.

Stallone on Friday paid tribute to Weathers, saying the Rocky films’ success would not have been possible without his co-star.

“When he walked into that room, and I saw him for the first time, I saw greatness,” Stallone said in a video posted on Instagram.

“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.”

Schwarzenegger described his co-start as a “legend”.

“An extraordinary athlete, a fantastic actor and a great person … We couldn’t have made Predator without him,” Schwarzenegger said in a message on Instagram. “And we certainly wouldn’t have had such a wonderful time making it. Every minute with him – on set and off – was pure joy.”

Born in New Orleans, Weathers played American football at San Diego State University and with the Oakland Raiders before retiring from the game in 1974 to pursue a career in acting.

He appeared in more than 75 films and TV shows during a career in Hollywood spanning more than 50 years, according to Deadline.

Weathers, who was married and divorced three times, is survived by two sons.

“He was a beloved brother, father, grandfather, partner and friend,” his family said in their statement.



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