Does Sylvester Stallone Have Any Regrets Playing Rocky Balboa?
One of the greatest Cinderella stories put to film has been the Rocky franchise. Sylvester Stallone’s depiction of the underdog-turned-world champion-turned icon has stood the test of time since 1976. Its entire run doesn’t come without some real-life darkness to it.
Stallone spoke to Variety about his role outside of the character. One of his biggest regrets was never earning an equity stake in the franchise, which is still going strong today with spinoff’s Creed and an upcoming Rocky film.
“I mentioned it a few times because after “Rocky II” came out and made a ton of money and then “Rocky III” hit and made more than all of them, I said I’d like to have some ownership since I invented it. And that never happened,” Stallone stated. “So I have zero ownership of “Rocky… Because I was told it just doesn’t happen, no one has it, and look, they’re giving you more money on ‘Rocky III.’ They took their chances, and you’re not entitled to it.”
Stallone earned 10 net points and $2.5 million for the first movie. MGM struck a deal with him for $35,000 for the film. That earned him the status of an international movie star with award nominations and all the praise you could think of. After all, he was the director, writer, and actor for the films. By the second movie he earned $75,000 and by the third, he made $120,000.
Looking out for his family, Stallone wanted to leave a legacy behind that could help the future of his clan out. Producer Irwin Winkler appeared surprised to find out how upset Stallone was. Seeing how he makes money from all angles of Rocky and was a producer for the Creed movies, his stance on it is interesting, to say the least. Stallone’s status, however, was altered as a result of it.
“I think there was a certain code of business conduct, maybe not as much now, but back then, that you don’t ruffle the feathers of the golden goose,” Stallone stated regarding his lack of pull for owning Rocky. “The studio is the power, the agency relies upon them, and the attorneys are the go-betweens. When I finally confronted them [just before “Rocky IV” in 1985], I said, “Does it bother you guys that I’ve written every word, I’ve choreographed it, I’ve been loyal to you, I’ve promoted it, directed it and I don’t have 1% that I could leave for my children?” And the quote was, “You got paid.” And that was the end of the conversation”
A star, Stallone went on to film movies that did not gain the same sort of attention as Rocky did. He was then dropped by CAA, his agency, and his manager. He was considered blacklisted until Rocky Balboa in the late 2000s came out. Stallone akens his few years before Rocky Balboa as Hollywood stabbing him in the chest.
“I was going the way of the dodo bird and the Tasmanian tiger,” Stallone stated.
Stallone is currently working on a new Rocky movie with MGM. The synopsis sees “the onetime boxing champ befriending a young street fighter living in the U.S. illegally.”
Stallone can relate to Rocky, just like he thinks anyone can. What draws Rocky to those who are Average Joe’s or anyone else?
“There’s something about the perseverance of being so overwhelmed by life and still driving through it,” Stallone stated. “People can relate to it on a subliminal level. … Rocky is very touchable. It’s like my brother. It’s the only voice that I can say what I want without being ridiculed, or being silly, or being precious or sentimental, because he is that way.”
At 73, Stallone has still managed to entertain millions. His story is that of Rocky, and the next “Italian Stallion” will look to learn from his legacy.