Sylvester Stallone fairly recently reprised his role as the resilient boxer Rocky Balboa for Ryan Coogler’s Creed. But it took a little convincing to bring Stallone on board since he initially wanted nothing to do with the project.
How Rocky Balboa once resuscitated Sylvester Stallone
As many know, the Rocky franchise helped shape Stallone’s career into what it is today. The first movie propelled him into superstardom, while subsequent sequels and other movies helped grow his starpower. But the franchise almost didn’t end on a high note. The fifth movie in the Rocky franchise, Rocky V was a disappointing addition to many fans of the movies. Including Stallone himself.
Years later, he saw an opportunity to redeem his Rocky franchise with the sixth movie Rocky Balboa.
“I was so sorry I didn’t do well on Rocky V,” he once said on The Director’s Chair (via IndieWire). “If I would end my career, I wanted to at least salvage that. I didn’t want to end on a sour note. So, I kept pushing and pushing Rocky Balboa. It was by far 10 times harder than Rocky [to get made], because of the skepticism, there is no element of surprise.”
Rocky Balboa ended up being a well-received and welcome addition to the franchise. At the time, Stallone also thought it would be his last film. So when the Oscar-nominee filmed the last frame of the film, he couldn’t help but to reflect on Rocky’s impact on his life.
“I used the last frame in the credit where he’s just standing there looking at the city, that was actually me reflecting, this journey is over. It’s sad, but then again Rocky saved my life again. This is what brought me in and this is what resuscitated me. It’s just an amazing, wonderful character,” he added.
Sylvester Stallone was dead set against Ryan Coogler’s ‘Creed’
It turned out that Rocky Balboa wasn’t going to be the last time Stallone laced up his gloves as the boxer. Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, being a big fan of Rocky himself, would come up with an idea to continue the franchise.
Coogler’s vision of a sequel focused on Stallone’s aging Rocky acting as a mentor and father-figure to a younger boxer. But it was an idea Stallone initially met with some resistance.
“I was dead set against it,” Stallone said in a 2015 interview with the LA Times. “I just didn’t ever see taking this character into this realm. Finally my agent said, ‘For a guy who played Rocky, you’re kind of a chicken.'”
Stallone was also sold on the message the film was trying to convey.
“There are certain things I’m allowed to say through Rocky that I can’t say through Rambo or anyone else,” he said. “Rocky is very preachy. He’s just always talking. That’s what Rocky really is: a springboard for the way I see life or wish life was.”
How Michael B. Jordan impressed Sylvester Stallone for ‘Creed’
One of the things Stallone enjoyed about making Creed was his interaction with Michael B. Jordan. The Expendables star was impressed by the actor’s athleticism in the role and how he was able to capture a fighter’s physique.
“Michael Jordan is an extraordinary athlete,” Stallone once told GQ. “And he has those skills that very, very few actors have, his great kinetic mobility. It was very apparent in the first couple of days in the ring that he had great hand-eye coordination, and then the next time I saw him, about three months later, I couldn’t believe it: his back, he had doubled his size, his trapezius, his upper back was spot-on as the kind of musculature a serious fighter would have.”