The acting world has lost a warrior.
Carl Weathers, who rose to fame playing Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies and later starred in the Star Wars series The Mandalorian, died in his sleep, his family confirmed in a Feb. 2 statement to NBC News.
"Carl was an exceptional human being who lived an extraordinary life," they said. "Through his contributions to film, television, the arts and sports, he has left an indelible mark and is recognized worldwide and across generations. He was a beloved brother, father, grandfather, partner, and friend."
The actor is survived by his sons Matthew, 47, and Jason, 44, who he shared with first wife Mary Ann.
Born in New Orleans in 1948, Weathers initially pursued a career in professional football, playing for the Oakland Raiders between 1970 and 1971, before turning his sights towards acting.
After making appearances in shows like Good Times and The Six Million Dollar Man, he landed his breakthrough role of the adversary-turned-friend of Sylvester Stallone's character Rocky Balboa in the 1976 boxing film Rocky, reprising the role in the first three sequels.
"I'm so torn up, I can't even tell you," Stallone said in an Instagram video. "I'm just trying to hold it in because Carl Weathers was such an intricate part of my life, my success, everything about it. I give him incredible credit and kudos because when we walked into that room, and I saw him for the first time, I saw greatness. But I didn't realize how great."
The actor continued, "I never could've accomplished what we did with Rocky without him. He was absolutely brilliant. His voice, his size, his power, his athletic ability and more importantly, his heart, his soul. It's a horrible loss."
Following his time in the ring, he starred in the 1987 film Predator with another action film icon—Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"Carl Weathers will always be a legend," the actor tweeted. "An extraordinary athlete, a fantastic actor, and a great person. We couldn't have made Predator without him. And we certainly wouldn't have had such a wonderful time making it."
He subsequently found success in comedy, teaming up with Adam Sandler in the comedy flick Happy Gilmore, playing the title character's golf coach and mentor, Chubbs. The two reunited in the 2000 movie Little Nicky, with Weathers reprising his part in an uncredited role, and the 2002 animated film Eight Crazy Nights.
Following the news of Weathers' passing, Sandler paid tribute to his late friend.
"A true great man," the actor wrote about his late costar on Instagram. "Great dad. Great actor. Great athlete. So much fun to be around always. Smart as hell. Loyal as hell. Funny as hell. Loved his sons more than anything. What a guy!! Everyone loved him. My wife and I had the best times with him every time we saw him. Love to his entire family and Carl will always be known as a true legend."
Throughout the aughts, Weathers appeared mostly on television, with scene-stealing roles on shows such as Brothers, Arrested Development—in which he played a parody version of himself, and Chicago Justice.
His final role was as bounty hunter Greef Karga in Star Wars TV spinoff The Mandalorian, with him earning an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series nomination in 2021.
His costar Pedro Pascal expressed his grief wrote on Instagram, adding alongside a publicity photo of Weathers for the 1988 film Action Jackson and a broken heart emoji, "Words fail."