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First-Time Nominee Spotlight: Carl Weathers

It might be hard to believe that veteran actor Carl Weathers just received his first-ever Emmy nomination. The 73-year-old earned the nod for reprising his role of Greef Karga in season two of The Mandalorian for “Chapter 12: The Siege,” an episode he also directed. He’s had a storied TV career leading up to this point, though, alongside his memorable work in film. Let’s start at the beginning. 

Weathers was born and raised in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans and went to St. Augustine High School before attending San Diego State University on a football scholarship. He signed with the Oakland Raiders in 1970, playing linebacker for the team, before transitioning out of the NFL to play in the Canadian Football League for the BC Lions. While playing professional football, Weathers was also working toward a bachelor’s degree in drama, and he graduated from San Francisco State University with it in 1974

Around the same time he transitioned into a film and TV career, picking up some credits like Good Times and S.W.A.T along the way. Then came his breakout role as Apollo Creed in Sylvester Stallone’s 1976 sports drama Rocky. But Weathers at first thought he blew the audition for it, during which he was told that his reader would be the film’s writer. The actor recalled during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he hadn’t realized at the time Stallone not only penned the film but would also be its star. “We read through the scene and at the end of it, I didn’t feel like it had really sailed, that the scene had sailed, and they were quiet and there was this moment of awkwardness, I felt, anyway,” Weather remembered. “So I just blurted out, ‘I could do a lot better if you got me a real actor to work with.’” But the faux pas ended up helping his chances instead of hurting them since Stallone felt it was a very Apollo-like thing to say.

He went on to reprise the role for the next three installments of the Rocky film series and then played opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1987 sci-fi action feature Predator. With the 1996 Adam Sandler-led Happy Gilmore, Weathers demonstrated his ability with comedy via the role of Chubbs. The actor revealed to GQ that while performing a stunt on that production, he sustained an injury to his spine that still bothers him to this day. “I didn’t know it until years later, but I fractured two vertebrae and osteophytes grew out and connected and it did a kind of self-fuse in a really bad place,” he noted.

Weathers didn’t let the injury hold him back, though, and continued building a stacked resume that includes recurring appearances in series like Arrested Development, Colony, and Chicago Justice. Then came The Mandalorian. Weathers brought to life the character of Greef, leader of the Bounty Hunters’ Guild, in the first season of the Disney+ series before bringing him back for the fourth episode of the second season. Time will tell if his performance will also land the 73-year-old actor his first-ever Emmy win on September 19 when this year’s awards show airs. But in the meantime, we certainly think he’s earned his place in the Emmy spotlight. 


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