One of the more endearing elements of the Toy Story universe is that it reminds audiences of the wide world of toys and the infinite amount of storytelling possibilities we experienced growing up, whether those characters were based on existing brands or were merely created for the series. In the very first film, Woody made mention of a toy named "Combat Carl" and, while we had no idea what this toy was, its name alone immediately reminded us of a very specific type of action figure that seemingly never shied away from battle when it came to doing what was right. In 2013, fans finally met the real Combat Carl in 2013 with Toy Story of Terror, voiced by Carl Weathers.
Thanks to his roles in films like the Rocky series and Predator, hearing Weathers' voice emerge from the action-oriented toy immediately gave the character a tremendous amount of gravitas, with the viewers themselves being persuaded to follow him into battle. Weathers had the opportunity to reprise the role and bring him to the big screen with Toy Story 4, which also introduced a number of specialized Carls for any occasion.
ComicBook.com recently caught up with Weather to discuss Toy Story 4, his growing number of franchise roles, and what it's like to regularly be greeted with one of his more iconic and obscene cinematic moments.
ComicBook.com: While we're here to talk about Toy Story 4, a family-friendly adventure, we have to get a little PG-13 for a moment. Are you ever thrown off when fans meet you and shout, "You son of a bitch!" like Arnold Schwarzenegger says to you in Predator?
Carl Weathers: Usually what they say is "Dillon, you son of a bitch." I think it's flattering. I think it certainly says something about the popularity, and the success, of Predator, and the impact that Dillon made in that film in terms of one of the number of pieces, or characters, that I'm known for throughout my career. I find it really flattering, and, my God, I hear it so many times, so it just depends on age, demographic, part of the country. I don't escape it. Let's put it that way.
So some good advice to any of your fans would be to make sure they say "Dillon" before calling you a son of a bitch. If they included "Carl" in there, it might be a different reaction from you.
You know right away. Yes, that'd be different. And still, even when people forget the character's name, as soon as they put the hand up for the iconic handshake, you know where they're going.
Whether it be your character in Predator or Apollo Creed in Rocky, or even your comedic efforts in Happy Gilmore and Arrested Development, does one character prevail when it comes to what you're recognized for?
So much depends on demographic, part of the country, but all of those characters, from small children on—if they've not seen those movies—and they're small, they maybe have seen Happy Gilmore, or they've seen other characters. In voiceover, I've done a lot of characters. Sometimes young fans who've managed, for whatever reason, to see Rocky, even though I don't think that's a problem, some parents are waiting until the kids are 12 or 13 before they show them those movies, it's all over the place. There's no sort of rhyme or reason.
Unless it's that early 20s to 30s age range when you get a lot of Rocky, and Predator, particularly.
You first voiced Combat Carl in Toy Story of Terror, how did that opportunity come about? Were you a fan of the series and were looking to get into it however you could?
They reached out to my representatives, who came to me with the idea, and, my goodness, we're talking about really iconic filmmakers and animated movies that have just been through the roof, so how do you not know of them? And to really be flattered that they would ask you. I knew early on that it was going to be released for television. One thing, an actor who's been around for a while knows that, particularly, when it's going to be something that has to do with Halloween, then you have something that ultimately is annual, perhaps.
So there's an audience beyond the immediate audience that's going to see that. There are kids who were going to be around for God knows how long, probably long gone, and kids will still be around to see Toy Story of Terror on television at Halloween. To me, it was tremendously flattering. And then, of course, when they came back to me with this idea for the movie, which I've known about way before the movie was made, I thought, yeah, of course, I'm in.
If they were specifically coming to you with the role, did they have a pretty specific vision of how you would bring that character to life or did you get to bring your own perspective to creating the character?
Those jobs really are collaborative jobs because the writers and the director have a specific idea of how it's all going to integrate in the finished product, but of course, if they're asking you, they're asking you for a reason, whatever it is that you bring to that character, and the celebrity that you had, and how the audience recognizes ability, et cetera.
You're always asked if you've got another version, "Give me another version," and very often after you've gotten this thing warmed up a little bit in the studio, you come up with ideas, and you see how flexible they are. They can see how flexible you are with your creativity, and somehow, in the end, it all comes out and works out really well.
Combat Carl was first mentioned in 1995, but didn't come alive until 2013. The minds behind Toy Story 4 have made it seem like there won't be another sequel, are there adventures you wish you could continue to explore as Carl?
I think that character is made for all kinds of adventures. When I was growing up, and so many of us, we had toys, and a lot of times they were action figures, and you created all kinds of stories around your action figures, and anybody who's familiar with the Marvel Universe, or some of the other superhero universes, you create your own stories around those characters. Combat Carl, for me, he could do everything from look for a missing character in a yard to being swallowed by some creature that crawls around the yard, and tries to find his way out, and find his way back home, be picked up by a bird and taken to some foreign territory where he has to fight his way back to wherever he began.
There's just so many ideas, and then when Combat Carl has three of them, then it's even more magnificent as far as the kinds of stories you could craft out of that, and where they could go, and what they can do, and kids around the world who desire a Combat Carl, or somebody who looks like a Combat Carl, what kind of games could they play with their imaginations and what kinds of stories do they dream up? I think there are endless possibilities.
You mention the Marvel universe, and you have a number of exciting franchises under your belt, are there any franchises out there that you would actively seek out, just to have any involvement in it?
That's an interesting idea. Not one that I'd thought about, honestly. I don't necessarily think in ways of franchises. For me, it's really about character and about story, and if those two things are in alignment with what interests me, or what I believe in, or what I'd like to promote, then I'm all over it. Otherwise, there's just so many other things to do that I'm interested in, so if that comes about, I'm happy, if it doesn't, I'm equally happy.
You can hear Weathers as Combat Carl in Toy Story 4, out now on Digital HD and hitting 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on October 8th.
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney