Weathers, who starred as Apollo Creed in four Rocky films, died Friday at the age of 76.
“Today is an incredibly sad day for me,” Stallone said in a video posted to Instagram on Friday evening. “I mean, I’m so torn up I can’t even tell you. I’m just trying to hold it in because Carl Weathers was such an integral part of my life, my success, everything about it. I give him incredible credit and kudos, because when he walked into that room, and I saw him for the first time, I saw greatness, but I didn’t realize how great.”
“I never could have accomplished what we did with Rocky without him,” Stallone continued. “He was absolutely brilliant. His voice, his size, his power, his athletic ability, but more importantly, his heart, his soul. It’s a horrible loss.”
“He was magic, and I was so fortunate to be part of his life,” he concluded. “So, Apollo, keep punching.”
Weathers, a professional football player-turned-actor, famously won the role of Apollo Creed after criticizing Stallone’s acting abilities.
“There was nobody to read with, and they said you’re going to read with the writer [Stallone],” Weathers recalled of his audition in a 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “And we read through the scene and at the end of it, I didn’t feel like it had really sailed, that the scene had sailed, and they were quiet and there was this moment of awkwardness, I felt, anyway. So I just blurted out, ‘I could do a lot better if you got me a real actor to work with,’” he recounted. “So I just insulted the star of the movie without really knowing it and not intending to.”
Stallone felt the reaction was emblematic of something Creed would say and proceeded to cast Weathers in the role.