Things you didn’t know about Rocky

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Some movies are etched in the memory of movie-goers! It’s been nearly 40 years  and Rocky remains Sylvester Stallone’s best known film. The Philadelphia pugilist Rocky Balboa became an iconic role for millions of movie fans and it has been the same for its actor-creator, Sylvester Stallone as well.

It was played to perfection by Stallone who endeared himself to millions of people through his hard work, perseverance, and determination. His impact on moviegoers is so profound that the city of Philadelphia has a statue of their fictional sports hero. The 72 stone steps before the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, have become known as the ‘Rocky Steps.’ These steps are a character on its own and have appeared in the triple-Oscar-winning film Rocky and five of its sequels, Rocky II, III, V, Rocky Balboa and Creed. The eponymous character runs up the steps to the song ‘Gonna Fly Now’. Tourists often imitate Rocky’s famous climb which is considered a metaphor for an underdog or someone rising to a challenge. A bronze Rocky statue was briefly situated at the top of the steps for the filming of Rocky III and after the shoot the statue is at the bottom of the steps, which is now a popular photo opportunity for visitors.

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The genesis of this iconic scene is very different from what it has now become. Stallone recounted that the film crew shooting on a tight budget, identified the steps one night while searching for locations. Stallone first thought Rocky should carry his dog Butkus up the steps, but he proved too heavy for the scene to work. But the view from the top of the stairs inspired him to reshoot the scene without the dog.

“He is a man of the streets. But, he has deep emotion and spirituality and good patriotism. He has a good nature, although nature has not been particularly good to him.” – Sylvester Stallone

While its classic status in inarguable, how much do you know about the greatest boxing movie ever made? Found this bit of information interesting, read on to find out more.

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  • One of the most interesting Rocky facts was that Susan Sarandon auditioned for the role of Adrian and didn’t get the part. This had nothing to do with her acting skills. They thought she was too pretty for the role and the role finally went to Talia Shire.
  • When shooting the scenes in the meat-locker where he punches the slabs of beef, Stallone punched the meat so hard for so long that he flattened out his knuckles. To this day, when he makes a fist, his knuckles are completely flat.
  • Frank Stallone, Stallone’s father, has a cameo playing the man who rings the opening bell of the Creed vs. Balboa fight.
  • Sylvester’s younger brother, also has a cameo playing the lead singer of the street band.
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  • Rocky was the first sports movie to ever win an Academy Award for Best Picture.
  • Stallone wrote the first draft of the script in just three days. There were actually several rewrites to get to the version that was finally shot.
  • When United Artists offered to buy Stallone’s script they were not interested in him playing the lead, preferring instead to cast an established star like Ryan O’Neal, Robert Redford, James Caan or Burt Reynolds. Stallone insisted that he wouldn’t sell the script unless he played the title role. Finally UA relented but cut the proposed $2 million in half.
  • Rocky’s dog Butkus was actually Sylvester Stallone’s dog in real life.
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  • Stallone was inspired to write the movie after seeing unfancied boxer Chuck Wepner last fifteen rounds with Muhammad Ali at the Richfield Coliseum on March 24, 1975.
  • The two scenes in which Rocky runs up the stairs of the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum – once when he can’t do it and once when he, after much training, triumphantly can – were filmed two hours apart.
  • Before directing the film, John G. Avildsen had never watched a boxing match or a boxing movie.
  • The budget didn’t allow for a sufficiently large crowd to fill the arena in the final fight scene, so stock footage of sporting crowd scenes had to be used to fill out the editing. However, you can still see in some shots that some of the seats are empty.
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