RIP American Comedy Icon Carl Weathers
“We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Carl Weathers,” his family wrote in a statement. “He died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, February 1st, 2024. … Carl was an exceptional human being who lived an extraordinary life. 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.”
A former NFL linebacker, Weathers broke into the movie business at the tail end of his football career, appearing in small parts on TV shows and blaxploitation films before landing his breakout role as the iconic boxer in Sylvester Stallone’s boxing series by famously insulting the director and star with a joke during his audition. Though Weathers would firmly establish himself as an all-time great action and sci-fi actor with roles in Predator, Action Jackson and The Mandalorian, for many of his fans, the aspect of Weathers’ artistry that most endeared him to the audience was that same sense of humor that compelled Stallone to cast a man who took a jab at his acting abilities to his face.
Weathers’ first major comedic role was in the 1996 Adam Sandler comedy Happy Gilmore in which he played Derick "Chubbs" Peterson, a golf legend whose career was cut short when an alligator bit off his hand. Chubbs agrees to coach Sandler’s Happy Gilmore, and his teachings propel the mediocre hockey player turned master golfer to victory — but not before that alligator’s stuffed head scares Chubbs into falling out a window to his death. The fall stunt actually fractured two of Weathers’ vertebrae, which caused him pain for years afterwards.
Despite the unfortunate on-set accident, Weathers’ performance as Chubbs was so beloved that Sandler even invited Weathers to reprise the role in his 2000 film Little Nicky, in which Chubbs traded in golf instruction for mambo lessons and moved from the living world to Heaven above.
But Weathers’ most enduring comedy performance would be his four-episode arc the cult classic sitcom Arrested Development, where, once again, he was a teacher, this time playing a farcical version of himself as he gives Tobias Fünke acting lessons that mostly center around the craft services table. On a show that’s notorious for the sheer volume of iconic catchphrases contained in the cut-short original series, Weathers’ legendary line, “Baby, you got a stew going!” stands out as one of the most hilariously memorable.
Weathers first became a giant of American entertainment for his impressive physique and his imposing screen presence, but his skills as a performer and sharp sense of humor made him beloved by fans across genres. It’s not often that a burly, masculine leading man is willing to get weird, absurd and silly the way Weathers did, and we were all very lucky to witness what Weathers had stewing.