The Story Behind Carl Weathers Auditioning For Sylvester Stallone To Play Apollo Creed In Rocky

Film News

Carl Weather’s death at age 76 left Hollywood and the general public stunned, leading to endless tributes from the likes of Adam Sandler and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Though he starred in many notable movies throughout his decades-long career, Weathers’ most memorable role is arguably that of Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies (which we’ve ranked). As the cocky and intelligent boxer, he starred opposite Sylvester Stallone, who played the franchise’s eponymous boxer. Stallone has paid tribute to his late collaborator and, most recently, opened up about the story behind Weathers auditioning for him to play the iconic role of Apollo.

The Rocky icon spoke about his late co-star while promoting his series The Family Stallone on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (which was shared on YouTube). Stallone was emotional when discussing his buddy, calling Carl Weathers “magnificent” while reflecting on their time shooting the Rocky movies. The Oscar winner said about the Mandalorian star:

He was magnificent. Rocky was a compilation of really great actors, some were born to play those parts. And I couldn’t fill that [Apollo Creed role], because it required athleticism, brains, spirit, talent, speed. [Carl] had it all. I mean, he had it all.

Sylvester Stallone’s praise for his late co-star continued as he revealed how Carl Weathers’ first audition for the beloved boxing drama played out. The Rambo star opened up about his first encounter with Weathers, and it took place in a somewhat atypical manner:

But the best thing is the first day he came in to read. Actually, it was at night, and we were at wit’s end, because we couldn’t find anyone. They had taken him off a Piper Cub going to Oakland, because he lived in Oakland. And he was, at that time, still playing for [the] Oakland Raiders as a linebacker, so you know he’s fit. He comes in, he goes, ‘Oh god, this better be good.’ And like, he was in a bad mood. And I’m going, ‘Perfect, check that. Bad mood. I like that. Big voice. He’s coming at me.’

While the leading man enjoyed athlete-turned-actor’s candor, Carl Weathers’ first impression of the then-upcoming screenwriter only got worse once the audition started. The Cliffhanger star recalled the humorously blunt piece of feedback that Weathers shared about him personally. He also explained what ultimately signaled to him that Weathers was the perfect person to play Apollo:

Then we read, and he’s going, ‘ Oh my god, if you could get me a real actor, I could perform.’ ‘That loser, that’s Rocky.’ … And then I stood up, and [he] literally took his shirt off. And I went, ‘Oh my god, am I in trouble.’ Because I kinda looked like Pooh bear at the time. I did, and he looked like Adonis. And he banged about three shots off my forehead, and I went, ‘[Groans] Hired.’

That’s a wild audition story if I ever heard one, and I’m glad it played out as it did. Had something been different, Sylvester Stallone may not have felt compelled to hire the Action Jackson icon as Creed. After telling this funny tale to Jimmy Fallon, Stallone shared some throwback behind-the-scenes footage of him and his co-star practicing their big third-act fight. Watch it for yourself in the video below:

Seeing Carl Weathers and Sylvester Stallone spar while having an enjoyable time is sure to be heartwarming for many of the Rocky faithful. It would seem that Stallone is still mourning the loss of his comrade but is more so leaning on the positive memories he has of him. He also already gave a heartfelt tribute to the late Weathers via a video shared to his Instagram account. Take a look at the moving eulogy that Sly gives:

Carl Weathers is certainly missed but will surely never be forgotten. And it’s likely that fans will continue to be grateful to Sylvester Stallone for casting him. If you want to relive the magic between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed and honor Weathers, stream all the Rocky movies. After that, watch other excellent movies and TV performances from Weathers.

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