Carl Weathers is a man of many talents. He began his career in professional football, but during his playing years he got a bachelor's degree in drama and left football behind him forever. His first breakout hit as an actor was in Rocky, where he played the flamboyant heavyweight champion of the world Apollo Creed. After that, he gained cult status among sci-fi fans as Dillon in Predator. He's been a fan favorite in many movies and television shows since, but now he's taken his first steps into the larger galaxy of Star Wars.
In The Mandalorian, Weathers plays Greef Carga, a mysterious character who runs a Bounty Hunter Guild and hires the titular Mandalorian as well as others for various jobs around the Outer Rim. We'll know more about the character he plays as the show begins airing on November 12 when Disney+ launches.
Speaking to SYFY WIRE at a press event for The Mandalorian, Weathers said he was thrilled to be a part of the first live-action Star Wars TV show and told the story about when he first spoke with showrunner Jon Favreau about the series.
"You walk into the conference room and all this art is on the walls and [Favreau] is so passionate about it all and it's all magnificent," Weathers recalled. "It's like, 'Are you kidding me?' I'm working on something that Disney is going to be behind, I'm working on something that Jon Favreau is marshaling, and I'm working on Star Wars — and then I get a chance to meet Dave Filoni — and now it's like, 'We're in really good hands.'"
Weathers told Favreau that he had an interest in directing episodes of the show in addition to being a part of the cast, and at the press event it was revealed that he will be directing at least one episode of The Mandalorian's second season, which does not have a premiere date yet. Weathers is no stranger to directing television, he's been doing it for 25 years on shows ranging from Silk Stalkings to Hawaii Five-0.
Despite his directing experience, Weathers said he learned a lot while behind The Mandalorian's camera, describing it as "a liberating experience when you have so many smart, talented, collaborative, good-hearted, caring people around you on a daily basis."
"[The Mandalorian] is one of the most exciting projects as a result of just that," Weathers said. "There is so much that you get a chance to learn. You learn a lot about yourself. Let me just listen and see what happens here. Somebody's gonna come up with something that's really brilliant. I don't have to be the sharpest tool in that box, but I can take credit for it when I'm directing somebody else. They come up with the answer, I'll take credit for it and it's okay."
One important thing that Weathers pushed for in his direction was diversity among an already diverse show.
"For me, it can be something as simple as casting background. I wanna see a really diverse [background]." he explained. "And when I say diverse, I'm not just talking about the color of a person's skin. I wanna see height. I wanna see somebody who's got a limb missing. I wanna see in an albino, I wanna see small people, I wanna see children. I wanna see anything that we have experienced in the world to be in that universe, because they're disparate creatures coming from every part of the universe. So why wouldn't they be there? Why would it be this kind of homogenized world? That to me isn't Star Wars at all. And that's what I find fascinating and great about it."
Weathers also revealed the secret that makes The Mandalorian — and really all of Star Wars — work so well. It's making things up, rather than staying shackled to tradition.
"I was going through the script, and I've read it at least two dozen times now, but I would have these questions. There was this one thing I kept forgetting to get addressed; it was just a line that a character says. And finally I got Jon and asked him, 'So what does it mean when he says this?' And I'm thinking, 'Man, this has to relate to some character, something somebody said in Star Wars.'" Weathers recalled.
"Jon says to me, 'Oh, I just made that up,'" Weathers continued, with a laugh. "Which is what Dave would say that George Lucas would say. It's so perfect, because it made sense that this was something special, but it wasn't special at all! That's creativity, that's what you do, it's all made up, but people buy into it, and it becomes this thing. It's the same thing as holding a blaster. How did they come up with holding a blaster like that? Dave asked George, and George was like, '[Because] it works.'"
You can see Carl Weathers as Greef Carga in the premiere of The Mandalorian on November 12 with the launch of Disney+. You'll see episodes he's directing when Season 2 premieres sometime in the future.