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Carl Weathers talks Comebacks

The actor and former Oakland Raider on The Comebacks.

Carl Weathers talks Comebacks

Carl Weathers is an actor I’ve waited my whole career in journalism to meet. I grew up with Rocky, Action Jackson and Predator. I wanted to see more Carl Weathers. Happy Gilmore and The Shield have been nice appearances, but he needs to do more. He is featured in The Comebacks as the coach who recruits a failure (David Koechner) for one last chance, and turns out to be the ultimate opponent. It’s a spoof of the kind of underdog sports movies that launched Weathers to stardom in the first place. With big arms and a firm handshake, Weathers still looks like he could kick some ass, but he’s so cool and mellow it’s hard to imagine anything making him so mad.

CraveOnline: Have you been waiting 30 years to spoof sports movies?

Carl Weathers: No. Quite frankly, I never even thought about it. It was just I guess the good fortune of a script to come along that you like. Certainly after doing so many movies that were somewhat serious about all that stuff, certainly Rocky, that whole arc of that character was very serious about it. It wasn’t a spoof at all. Then to do Happy Gilmore which was not really a spoof but a comedy set in the world of golf, to do a movie that sort of sends it all up and spoofs it, but a good script and to work with good people. When those come along, you’re just very happy to see it. It’s a joy.

CraveOnline: Do you feel protective of the underdog story since Rocky was the ultimate one?

Carl Weathers: No, not really. If you get too sacred about some of the stuff, I don’t know that as an actor or as an artist, you can really explore it fully. So like any artist, I think you have to look at things from different perspectives and different viewpoints and try to find just another perspective, another way of looking at something. If you’re fortunate again where you can look at it from a particular perspective and find either humor in it or pathos in it or whatever that thing is, the drama in it, the tragedy in it, whatever it is, and it turns out the material simply works, you’re an actor. That’s what it’s all about. Or in the case of a director or just a filmmaker.

CraveOnline: Have you turned down a lot of sports movies?

Carl Weathers: No, no. There’ve been other movies that had to do with boxing and that sort of stuff people ran by me of course. That just didn’t interest me, not because I had some sort of feeling of allegiance to anything. It’s just that some things aren’t good or what they’re about, you just don’t want to endorse. Or the characters don’t somehow resonate for you or whatever that thing is. If you have a fan base that really has positive things to say about the work that you do, that’s what I want to encourage. I want to encourage the fans who think what I’ve done has been appealing, has been certainly entertaining but for them, has had some sort of positive something to it whether it was a comedy or drama. If it’s not something I want to endorse, then why do it?

CraveOnline: Were there particular movie characters your coach was based on in this spoof?

Carl Weathers: No, I don’t think so. I don’t know what the writer necessarily had in his mind, or writers in their minds, as this progressed. But I know when David and I got together and were just working on it, there was never any sort of template that you chose or that you thought this person was based on. I think you borrow from just about every one. It could have been a coach at somebody’s school. It could have been something that you saw. It could have been somebody who wasn’t a coach at all. It might have been a teacher who might have had a parental kind of relationship or a father figure or for that matter a mother figure. It’s just somebody that could have been a priest if you went to Catholic school or a rabbi. It could have been almost anybody. So at the end of the day, with any character is can you relate? That’s all. If you in the audience can relate to that person, whether you’re laughing at them or with them, if you can relate, then we’ve hit a home run. That to me is what the job is all about.

CraveOnline: Did you play Happy Gilmore as a straight coach also?

Carl Weathers: In the case of Chubbs Peterson, it was two things. It was redemption on one hand because he’d lost his hand and the alligator and all that sort of stuff. The other thing is you want to see someone achieve something that you yourself never achieved, kind of a father figure in a way. Every father in a way wants to see his child do much better than he ever did. I think that’s what Chubbs was about. He found this kid who he thought was a prodigy and he was going to drive this kid into being what he never could, getting that jacket or whatever that thing is.

CraveOnline: You know I’m a huge fan, so what might Action Jackson 2 have been?
 

Carl Weathers: Oh my God, let’s not even go there. Well, man, pictures are so funny because the reasons pictures are made or not made can be probably as many as you can come up with. In the world of moviemaking, I think it could have been a great, great series of movies that could have been a lot of fun and could have just gotten better quite frankly. But that wasn’t my call. My agent and people I’m involved with approached and couldn’t get the kind of response we wanted. As a result, Action Jackson had his day in court and that was the end of that. On to other stuff. So how many times can you say in your life that you’ve managed to be involved in the kind of movies I’ve been involved in and had the successes I’ve had and have those movies be as well received around the world as they have been and have people still talking about them today, 20 years after, 30 years after? People remember those characters so obviously the successes are what they are and those things that didn’t become as successful as you would like to happen, that’s just the draw of the cards.

CraveOnline: What were your emotions when you read the script to Rocky IV and saw that Apollo died?
 

Carl Weathers: Well, I don’t remember what my emotions were at the moment but I do remember reading it and going, "What? WHAT?" The only thing you ultimately come up with is those deaths were devices to give Rocky some sort of inspiration to go on. Now had I written the script, it would have been different. But I didn’t write the script and I had a great run in those movies and had a great, great time working with the people I worked with. The rest of it is there for posterity. People look at the movies and enjoy them to this day and talk about them, and bring them up just as you are now.
 

CraveOnline: Did you check out Rocky Balboa?

Carl Weathers: No, I didn’t. In fact, I’ve been in and out of the country so much, I have seen so few movies in the last six, seven months, year, whatever it’s been, that I keep talking. My wife and I keep talking, "We got to go to a movie, we got to go to a movie." I’ll see it I’m sure. I’ll see it probably on DVD.

CraveOnline: What was it like hanging out in the jungle with the Predator gang?

Carl Weathers: Oh my God, we had such a great time. You get a bunch of guys together, you don’t have to worry about changing wardrobe. You don’t have to worry about makeup. I’m not saying that we didn’t have makeup but you didn’t worry about it like you do on other pictures. You put it on and when you need to wipe some of the sweat down, you wipe some of the sweat down. When you need to add some, you spritz a little. You don’t have to worry about a lot of stuff. With these other movies where you’re under lights and you’re in the studio and there’s a different kind of vibe to the movie and necessity to look good and all that sort of stuff, we looked good in that but we were manly. So you can have sweat running down your face at a time when making another kind of movie you wouldn’t. And then I hung out with a bunch of wacky guys, just scratching and having a good time and laughing and smoking cigars and just doing what guys do. You don’t get a lot of those movies. I’ve been fortunate. I’ve worked in a lot of things where I had those kinds of experiences with actors who were perceived as very macho guys, everybody from Lee Marvin to Charlie Bronson to Harrison Ford to Robert Shaw. To work in those kinds of pictures, Schwarzenegger, there are just not that many actors I think who can talk about those kinds of experiences and have a fondness for them and have grown up doing those kind of movies with really iconic actors.

CraveOnline: Will you show up once more in The Shield’s last season?

Carl Weathers: I haven’t heard anything. They certainly could write another episode for that character because the character is still alive. I had such a great time on the show that I would in a heartbeat. I’d be back there. You never know. I thought this last season was supposed to be their last. In fact I was working with them, on the last episode I did, we were working when they got the pickup for what was supposed to be the last season. Chiklis came over to me and said, "Well, I got it, man." Because he was directing that episode, meaning he had that last year in there. Now they have another. Well, cool. I’d love to do the show again. I really had a great time. It was kind of a nice departure to do a really hard character on a show like that.

CraveOnline: How do you keep in shape these days?

Carl Weathers: I’m in the gym five, six days a week. I really try to take care of myself. I really put forth the effort to make a regimen just a part of my life. When I can’t, for instance if I’m in a location someplace and I can’t work out because of the schedule of the picture or whatever it is, as much as I normally do when I’m home, I still do something. If only to go out and do a five mile, six mile walk at a really hellish pace so I at least get a sweat going and use my entire body to just keep active. I’ll get up in the morning, five o’clock and go do that if I’m not having a really early call. So something, and then I just try to really watch it and not go too crazy on what I eat and what I drink. When I start to get that few pounds, which I try to monitor, then I just pull back. So it’s really just being conscious.

CraveOnline: What sort of work do you do with the military?

Carl Weathers: I’ve done some stuff which is kind of a combination of things. I’ve made some films for the military that are teaching things like cultural awareness and leadership issues, that sort of stuff. And try to, in essence, look at what training they’re doing and say, "This is how you can improve the training from a humanistic point of view." Because more and more today, you’re talking about 19-year-olds doing this stuff. These guys, and women, they see the world very differently. They absorb things differently, so you can put a film in front of somebody and teach them a lot more when they’re used to playing video games, and a certain type of way of training and embedding ideas about leadership and about cultural awareness. When you’re going to a different culture, how to deal with people who are quite different. So that’s what I’ve been doing.