NEW YORK — He lost an arm to a Predator and gave up a hand to play Adam Sandler’s mentor. Oh, and he kicked Craig T. Nelson’s ass in “Action Jackson.” But forget about all that: Carl Weathers is Apollo Creed, one of the most iconic characters of the 1980s.
Weathers recently dropped by the MTV offices to stroll down the hall of heroes that is his career and, of course, to plug his latest film, sports spoof “The Comebacks.” Before we let him out of our clutches, we mourned Apollo’s passing, got an impromptu campaign announcement, and discovered just how cheap he really is.
MTV: You’re back on the big screen, and very appropriately with a film called “The Comebacks.” Why this film?
Carl Weathers: In the words of Norma Desmond, “It wasn’t a comeback, it was a return.” It was easy because the script was really good, really funny. As they say, if it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage, and in this case it was on the page. We spoof and lampoon anything that ever walked that has to do with sports, baseball, football, ice hockey, basketball, NASCAR, you name it. If you’ve got a sport you like, we ram it down your throat in a very ridiculous way.
MTV: Sports films are of course nothing new for you. Let’s go all the way back to “Rocky.” How did you land the role of Apollo Creed?
Weathers: I was a nobody. They had literally seen everybody in the world — boxers, actors who thought they could be boxers, actors that pretended to be boxers. On a Friday evening, they had this cattle call. They had been seeing people all day, and I read and they kind of perked up. Then I had to prove that I could actually act like a boxer. I went into the ring with a real boxer, and he beat the hell out of me, tired me out in about three minutes. I couldn’t pick up my arms. They saw some promise though.
MTV: I took it pretty hard when Apollo Creed died in “Rocky IV.”
Weathers: You weren’t me, man! You should have been on this side of it! I mean, come on!
MTV: A nation mourned.
Weathers: And so did I. First of all, when I found out about it, what are you going to do? You’re either in or you’re not in, and then you’re dead anyway. You’re going to be utilized so that Rocky can go on. In a strange way I think [Apollo’s] arc was as complete as anybody could have it be. What would I do after going in and beating the Russian?
MTV: What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I mention “Predator”?
Weathers: Fun. It was just a bunch of guys in Mexico smoking big stogies, drinking a lot of beer and having fun. Arnold [Schwarzenegger] and I had a competitive thing going on. He took his whole gym down there, enough weights to kill a giant. All of a sudden guys were getting up at 6 and 4 in the morning, trying to be the first one in there and get the biggest pump. It was just ego, ego, ego. We were getting up in the middle of the night to work out! It was like having a bunch of adolescent boys at day camp.
MTV: Two of your “Predator” co-stars have been or currently are governors [California’s Schwarzenegger and former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura]. Would you like to announce something?
Weathers: Yes, I would. Ladies and gentlemen, this country needs an infusion of new blood. I would like to announce here today on MTV that I’m your king. No more president! No more Democrats! No more Republicans! It’s King Carl!
MTV: “Action Jackson” is almost as impressive a title as King Carl.
Weathers: We had a great crew on “Predator.” One of the electricians was talking about his prowess with the women, and he [said], “I was in like Action Jackson!” I swear to God. That’s how it happened. I was writing this outline out, and I thought, “That’s a great title!”
MTV: In recent years you’ve done a lot more comedy, starting with “Happy Gilmore.” Any more adventures planned for Chubbs?
Weathers: People love Chubbs, man. I just saw Adam [Sandler] a few days ago. He said to me, “We’re writing something else, and we want you in it.”
MTV: Are you as cheap as your character was on “Arrested Development”?
Weathers: No. That’s the cheapest guy in the world. They wanted to do an Apollo Creed riff, and I thought, “That’s over, man.” I thought, “What if he was the cheapest guy in the world? Rather than make a three-course meal, he’s going to make a stew! I can go to the Kraft service and I can get some bologna and some doughnuts and go home and I can make a stew, man!” They loved the idea.
MTV: Time for some completely absurd questions. If all of your characters met in a gladiator pit, who would emerge victorious?
Weathers: Freddie Wiseman from “The Comebacks.” He’s devious.
MTV: What is your battle cry?
Weathers: “Flatulence is not a good thing.”
MTV: If you were on an abandoned space station, what one of your movies would you take with you?
Weathers: “The Comebacks,” because if you’re stranded and you’re all alone, you better have something to laugh at. “Rocky”? I don’t want to cry. “Predator”? Those guys die. “Happy Gilmore”? Another dead guy.
MTV: Who would you cast in “The Carl Weathers Story”?
Weathers: Who out there is good enough? Who is strong enough? Who is handsome enough? Who is funny enough? He hasn’t been born yet.
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