Happy Gilmore Left Carl Weathers In Excruciating Pain

There's a bitter irony in Carl Weathers' storied acting career. Despite starring in several "Rocky" movies and some memorable 1980s action movies, it was a silly Adam Sandler comedy that did irreparable damage to the actor's body.

For most of his career, Carl Weathers looked like he was cut from stone. He survived two seasons of NCAA football at San Diego State University and had a brief stint with the Oakland Raiders. After his professional football career ended, he took advantage of his degree in theater arts and made the switch to acting.

After a few years of small TV and film roles, the actor landed the role of a lifetime as boxer Apollo Creed opposite Sylvester Stallone in the 1976 film "Rocky." After four "Rocky" films, Weathers would star in some high-profile 1980s action films such as "Predator" and "Action Jackson." He would also star as a police detective in the syndicated crime drama series "Street Justice" and for one season of the CBS series "In the Heat of the Night."

Through all of his action roles, Weathers managed to stay relatively injury free. That is until the role of Chubbs Peterson came along. The "Happy Gilmore" role left Weathers in pain for nearly the rest of his life.

The switch from action to comedy came at a cost

In 1996 Carl Weathers took his career in a different direction, branching off into comedy with the Adam Sandler movie "Happy Gilmore." In the film, Weathers played one-handed former golf pro, Chubbs Peterson, who lost his hand to an alligator (a possible homage to the ridiculous "Predator" scene where Weathers' character has his arm blown off).

Despite all the crazy action sequences in his action films, it was a stunt in the goofy Sandler golf movie that left the actor in excruciating pain. In 2020 Weathers told GQ what went wrong with the stunt. The actor said:

"It was a blind fall. There are stunt bags, which, maybe are like two feet tall. But the bag wasn't pushed all the way against the wall, so when I went out backward instead of hitting something flat, my body kind of got trapped, my head on the bags, and my tailbone at the wall, and so it just would crunch on the spine. I felt the pain and the burning sensation immediately. But again, I'm an athlete, I'm tough, I'm an actor, let's keep going. And after about three or more of those, I said, 'No more of that.'"

The scene was likely when Chubbs fell out of a window after the reappearance of the alligator that ate his hand. Despite the hilarity of the scene and the untimely on-screen death of Chubbs, the accident left Weathers in terrible pain for years.

He called the injury debilitating

When the accident happened, Weathers kept it a secret. "I didn't tell anyone because, you know, I'm tough, man," Weathers said. The actor downplays the injury, but the details sound as gory as a scene from "Predator." The actor described the injury in greater detail, saying:

"I didn't know it until years later, but I fractured two vertebrae and osteophytes grew out and connected and it did a kind of self-fuse in a really bad place. There were three or four years there where I was just in excruciating pain. And somehow, I was going to a doctor and getting treatment and then I went to another doctor and, finally, after I thought I was exhausted with what to do, I started to look into surgeons and I was told by one of the heads of surgery at one of our very fine hospitals in Los Angeles, 'You don't want us to touch that. We can only make it worse.' ... Now, for about two-and-a-half years, almost three years, no serious pain. I'm glad not to be experiencing what I was experiencing. It was debilitating."

Somehow, the injury hasn't slowed him down. Today, at age 75, Weathers is still at it, starring as bounty hunter Greef Karga in the first two seasons of "The Mandalorian." He even directed an episode ("Chapter 12: The Siege"). Unfortunately, he does it with a twinge of pain, all from that "Happy Gilmore" accident. "To this day, it still really bothers me, because it was right on the spine," Weathers confessed.

The actor wasn't lying when he said he was tough. You just can't stop Carl Weathers. Broken back or not, he's returning as both actor and director for season 3 of "The Mandalorian."