Carl Weathers Got Cast In Rocky By Insulting Sylvester Stallone's Acting Skills

"Let me tell you a little story about acting." These are words that Carl Weathers, playing a fictionalized version of himself, once spoke as a drama coach on the sitcom "Arrested Development." Yet they could also apply to Weathers and his acting career long before "Arrested Development," the Disney+ series "The Mandalorian," or even the sci-fi action movie "Predator."

When he auditioned for the role of Apollo Creed, the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, in the first "Rocky" film, Weathers was a virtual unknown in the acting world. He already had a pro football career behind him, having played as an NFL linebacker for the Oakland Raiders before he went back to school and earned a drama degree. However, his acting résumé was limited to television and "some movies out of AIP which was then doing quote-unquote 'Blacksploitation,'" as he once put it on The Rich Eisen Show. In the same 2017 interview, Weathers related how Sylvester Stallone's script for "Rocky" first came to him through his agents, but the makers of the movie, he said, originally "didn't want anything to do with me because I was nobody."

"I got a chance to go in and read for it with a cattle call of probably a hundred, a hundred and fifty guys," Weathers recalled. He did read with Stallone, but Stallone was also not famous yet, and in fact, had to make it a condition that he play the lead before he sold his script. This led Weathers to underestimate his scene partner for the audition, not knowing who Stallone really was.

"I was introduced to him as the writer," Weathers said. "So he comes into the room out of some vestibule somewhere and he sits down and they introduce, well, this is the writer of the screenplay."

'If you get me a real actor I could do a lot better!'

Despite not knowing who Stallone was, Carl Weathers was nervous for his "Rocky" audition, which ended in silence. "I've got all this energy going," he told Rich Eisen, "and at the end of it, the reading, it's like — it's quiet, it's like crickets man."

Feeling that he was being judged and had perhaps botched his chance at the Apollo Creed role, Weathers was left doubting himself and his mumbly scene partner:

"The producers and the directors are kind of leaning over to each other and then I see John Avildsen, our director, giggle a little bit. And I'm really nervous now, because I think I blew the interview, right? I blew the audition. So I chirp out, 'You know, if you get me a real actor I could do a lot better!' I have no idea why they laughed, too! And Stallone looks up at me like, 'This idiot, who's he? Who does he think he is?' And I tell people, I think I got the job because Sly wanted to beat the hell out of me."

Weathers would go on to play Apollo Creed in four "Rocky" films, and with Michael B. Jordan now playing his son, Adonis Creed, in a spin-off trilogy, it's safe to say that the "Arrested Development" version of Weathers is right – "there's still plenty meat on that bone."

Looking back on his first "Rocky" audition, before he ever donned the flashy Apollo Creed's star-spangled boxing trunks, Weathers concluded, "As far as I know, as far as I've heard, one thing Sly always said was, 'He was so arrogant, I knew he could do the role.' But I wasn't being arrogant. I was being nervous, man. I wanted the role!"