May 19, 2023
Carl Weathers’s acting career fueled by a comment from John Madden
In the mid-1970s, Raymond Chester converted his garage into a clubhouse. The former Raiders tight end enlisted the help of two of his closest Friends from his days in Oakland, and the trio got to work, drinking beers and assembling his blue pool table and three-foot speakers blasting David Bowie.Mahogany panels on the walls with a burgundy carpet and a kennel full of Great Dane puppies right outside, the players got to talking about what they wanted to do later in life. Chester and Gerald Irons eventually went into business after their playing careers were done; Carl Weathers, who was there to take home a puppy he would name Cherry Kijafa, was an up-and-coming Actor who had some small roles in television shows such as Good Times, The Six Million Dollar Man and Kung Fu, and had aspirations of hitting the big time. And on that day he couldn’t hide his excitement about one role he had gotten: a boxer. Growing up in New Orleans, Weathers had thought about acting ever since a teacher, Mr. Slush, gave him a role in a play the teacher had written himself. The role had a singing number; Weathers loved it. When the crowd laughed after a joke or cheered on cue after a perfectly delivered line, it gave him something. Even as a grown man in an NFL locker room, that feeling—and that need to chase it—persisted. Fifty years later, the athlete turned actor sees parallels in how he found success in two of the most competitive occupations in the world. His drive is fueled by a need to survive and a fear of what will happen if he gives in. He uses the metaphor that he’s on a boat with a group of people, and the boat capsizes. If the ship goes down, he’ll be the last one to go—think Rose and Jack at the end of Titanic. That mindset propelled him from New Orleans to a pro Football career in Oakland and eventually Hollywood. In his acting career, he’s taken on iconic roles that span generations. He began his recurring run as Apollo Creed in 1976; 20 years later he starred as retired golfer Chubbs Peterson in the cult classic Happy Gilmore and now he’s become known to many as Greef Karga on the Disney streaming hit The Mandalorian. But before that, he was Carl Weathers, undrafted linebacker. His NFL career lasted only two years. And, to this day, he remembers the words spoken to him by a legendary coach that ended it. Having the body of an actual NFL player helped Weathers convincingly play the iconic role of Apollo Creed.Neil Leifer/Sports Illustrated Besides just wanting to get out of the house, Weathers says he competed in so many sports as a kid because of the validation that came with it—not unlike the kind he found on stage. From football to gymnastics to, yes, boxing, his obsession with the drawing applause and approval he received through competition and performance fueled him in every endeavor. By the time he got his athletic scholarship to St. Augustine High School, he performed in nonunion productions in choirs and with bands across New Orleans. Weathers says there are still records out there somewhere of him singing with a handful of companies. But at the time football was still his top priority. His talents eventually landed him at San Diego State, as a transfer student, where he played defensive end for Hall of Fame coach Don Coryell. Weathers vividly remembers the recruitment process with linebackers coach Sid Hall: One morning, Weathers woke up to a white stranger with a round face and a flattop haircut by his bedside, shaking him to wake up—it was his first taste of Hall’s bedside manner. The rude awakening wasn’t enough to deter Weathers, who committed to the Aztecs.He describes San Diego State as “heaven” and he was part of a dominant two-year run there that ended with an 11–0 season in 1969 and a Pasadena Bowl victory—although he didn’t play most of that season due to a knee injury. After that season, he went unselected in the 1970 NFL draft but his connection to an old friend helped him land on his feet. Hall had become a linebackers coach for the Raiders. Weathers called him to let him know he was interested in Oakland, and he was given a shot at making the roster. It’s no easy task to make any NFL team, but Weathers tried to latch onto one that was going to compete for a Super Bowl under legendary coach John Madden, with the likes of future Hall of Famers Willie Brown, Art Shell, Gene Upshaw, Fred Biletnikoff, Ken Stabler, Jim Otto and Billy Cannon all on board. Weathers also had no belief that—at 6'2", 220 pounds—he could play defensive end in the NFL. So he changed positions to linebacker and played a large portion of his snaps on special teams. Weathers donned the number 49 for the 1970 season. He remembers his welcome-to-the-NFL moment, when he went into a blitzing drill “half-assed” and found himself airborne. Upshaw, the five-time All Pro guard, hooked the rookie by extending his arm and knocked Weathers off his feet. “When you’re just looking at a guy like that you say, ‘Oh s---, I got to turn up my game,’’’ Weathers says. Stabler and Weathers were both rookies under Madden in 1970.Neil Leifer/Sports Illustrated His former teammates remember Weathers’s aggressive nature, and they theorize that in today’s NFL he would have been more suited for other positions, given his build. “He was what we call a tweener,” Raymond says. “Carl was strong and fast and had good size, but he was small for a linebacker. Today, Carl would be a safety. That would have been the perfect position for him. He had everything it took. He was smart, he could run like a deer and he was chiseled. He was a magnificent athlete.”Biletnikoff, on the other hand, thinks his former teammate would be a perfect edge rusher or maybe a weapon in the offensive backfield. “Carl would be a great outside edge pass rusher in my estimation, now and then,” Biletnikoff says. “He’d be a hell of a pass rusher because he’s so active. He’s so physical. He would probably fit in really, really well as a running back. That’s what I always thought. I thought he’s somebody that you can put in the backfield and give him the ball in a short-yardage situation.”Weathers appeared in seven games during the 1970 season, as a linebacker coming off the bench, but Oakland’s year came to an end after an 8-4-2 regular season and a loss to the Baltimore Colts in the AFC championship. Weathers remembers being at the Raiders’ practice facility in Alameda, Calif., one game into the ’71 season, when someone told him that Madden wanted to see him—and to bring his playbook.Madden sat down with Weathers and gave him the news that they planned to cut him, but Weathers says what he heard next hurt more than any left hook or form tackle. “I don’t know what he meant by it, but I know how I took it,” Weathers recalls. “He said to me, ‘You’re just too sensitive.’ What the f--- do you mean I’m too sensitive? Not that it’s not true.”Weathers has no idea what led to the comment (Madden died in December 2021), but that brief interaction—that quick jab—stung a man who viewed himself as a rough-and-tough football player.Raymond describes Weathers as sensitive, but in the best of ways. “[Madden] misread Carl, because Carl was as intense, in terms of being a competitor, as I’d ever seen,” Raymond says. “And I knew him a lot better than John Madden knew him. But Carl is a sensitive human being. He cared about his fellow teammates. So, yeah, he was sensitive. Very sensitive. But not in a sense that it limited him from having the kind of aggressive approach to being a great football player.”And now, 52 years later, Weathers’s outlook on that parting gift has a complex significance on his career trajectory. “I couldn’t let it go, man,” Weathers says. “It kind of put a chip on my shoulder on one hand and it was like a wound on the other because as a football player, certainly, as a professional football player, the last thing you want to hear is that you’re too sensitive. On the other hand, without that sensitivity, how could I be an actor? How could I be an actor of any worth, really?“That’s what we trade on,” he continues. “We trade on performances that delve into the humanity of us all. And without sensitivity, how can you do that? So on one hand, it felt like an indictment, like I committed a crime. And on the other hand, I guess it reminded me of something that was actually necessary in me to succeed and what I envisioned doing with my life, you know, as a performer, as an artist. So, God bless John Madden for seeing something in me and naming it what it actually is: a certain amount of sensitivity.”Weathers continued his professional football career as a linebacker for the CFL’s BC Lions in 1971 but officially retired from football in ’74 and pursued acting full time. “I knew that it’s time for me to walk away from this. It’s not what I really want to do,” Weathers says of his thought process. “I really want to be an actor and I’m going to go to Los Angeles and give myself a shot. I was blessed enough to have made it.”Several years of acting and one Great Dane puppy later, Weathers portrayed one of the most iconic characters in sports movie history. Premiering in 1976, Rocky went on to be one of the most celebrated movies ever, with Weathers as its iconic antagonist: Apollo Creed. He had turned in the Silver and Black for red, white and blue—shorts with a top hat to match. Weathers’s chiseled frame graced movie screens across the world as the lightning-quick, Master of Disaster, heavyweight champion of the world. The charismatic Creed became a household name, which is now the namesake of a spin-off franchise three movies deep starring Michael B. Jordan. It was just the first big role for Weathers, who to this day does what he loves; his full-time acting career has lasted for nearly a half century. Baby Yoda is one of many famous characters with whom Weathers has shared the screen.Courtesy of Disney His latest acting credit is on Disney Plus’s The Mandalorian, where he plays Greef Karga of the Star Wars universe. The show premiered in 2019 with Karga the leader of a bounty hunter group on a planet that is still haunted by remnants of the now-fallen Evil Empire. His portrayal of the gray character earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his Season 2 performance in an episode titled “The Siege.” The show just finished its third season, in which Karga turned in his bounty hunter uniform for an extravagant getup that includes a gold-trimmed cape with jewels hanging from his neck as the new high magistrate of the planet Nevarro. Now, a bureaucratic leader, Karga is a stone-cold good guy at his core who—spoiler alert—ends the season by giving the main protagonist a home on the planet where he can hang up his cape and enjoy some peace with his son, Grogu, whom the internet often refers to as “Baby Yoda.” Weathers has also directed episodes in Seasons 2 and 3.He has come a long way since Madden’s criticism, but that character trait, the one he perceived as an insult, has been in his corner for every role he’s ever taken on. “Because I don’t know that I was conscious enough or aware enough at the time to even accept that in myself. But here we are today and, you know, there’s a certain amount of sensitivity in every performance I've ever given, from Rocky, from Predator, through Action Jackson, to Happy Gilmore, to today in The Mandalorian.”Once Weathers’s acting career took off, he says Madden gave him a shout-out when he was a broadcaster and specifically cited his role as Apollo Creed, among his other acting credits. Weathers always wanted to prove Madden wrong. But in the end, he proved him more right than he could have ever imagined. 
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Kylie Jenner and Timothée Chalamet serve PDA at 2023 U.S. Open
Sep 10, 2023
Originally appeared on E! Online Kylie Jenner and Timothée Chalamet are bouncing together from coast to coast as their romance heats up. The Kylie Cosmetics founder and the Oscar-nominated actor served some PDA while sitting together in the stands at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City to watch the U.S. Open matches Sept. 10, the final day of the 2023 tennis championships. Jenner, 26, and Chalamet, 27, were photographed watching the tournament with their arms around each other and in a video shared on the U.S. Open’s X (formerly Twitter) account, she also appeared to stroke his hair. The two wore black outfits on their tennis date, which marked their third outing in a week. The “Kardashians” star and the “Wonka” actor had also twinned in black two days prior when they made their joint New York Fashion Week debut at a private, star-studded dinner celebrating French designer Haider Ackermann’s first beauty collab with Augustinus Bader. They Dated? Surprising Star Couples Following multiple reports in April that said the two are dating, Jenner and Chalamet were photographed in public for the first time Sept. 4 at Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour concert in Los Angeles, where they also spent time making out. Also in attendance at the show: Jenner’s ex, Travis Scott, with whom she shares daughter Stormi Webster, 5, and son Aire Webster, 19 months. Jenner and Chalamet have not commented on the nature of their relationship. During their PDA-filled outing at the U.S. Open, the two sat behind Laverne Cox. Many other celebs attended the tournament that day and last week. This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.
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