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Facts You May Not Have Known About The Rocky Films

Rocky is one of the most successful film franchises ever. The series, comprised of 5 films, has grossed over $1.7 billion (£1.4 billion) in total worldwide. It has also given the world a number of iconic characters, from Rocky Balboa himself to his foils, Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, and Ivan Drago. Now, with the franchise less than a year away from being 45-years-old, lets celebrate with some facts you may not know about the Rocky films.

The first draft of Rocky 1 was written in 84 hours

Stallone, inspired by the Muhammad Ali vs. Chuck Wepner bout, wrote the first draft of Rocky in just 84 hours. Granted, Stallone was an actor and sometimes screenwriter at that time, but to write the first draft of a film in just a little over 3 days is mighty impressive.

A real-life underdog inspired the Rocky premise

It was actually the underrated Wepner who became the film’s inspiration. Wepner gave Ali all he could handle before getting knocked out in the final round, but that gallant stand by The Bleeder inspired Stallone, who told Forbes that Wepner’s tenacious showing was “a metaphor of life.”

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Rocky managed (almost) otherwise

The average time it takes to shoot most movies is anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks. But Rocky wasn’t most films. Gala Bingo points out that the OG of the franchise took just 28 days to shoot! That’s mostly due to budget constraints, which compelled the production crew to make do with handheld cameras, and use just one take to film most of the footage.

Rocky-Creed II could’ve taken place at the Roman Colosseum

In an earlier script of Rocky II, the big rematch between Rocky-Apollo Creed was supposed to be held at the Roman Colosseum, Stallone’s ancestral home. That plan, unfortunately, didn’t push through for a number of reasons that still are yet to be revealed.

Burt Young didn’t want to be in the sequel

Initially, Burt Young didn’t want to be part of Rocky II, as he had lost loads of weight to play a very different part in another feature film. After plenty of encouragement from Stallone, Young agreed to reprise his role as Paulie — albeit a much slimmer one, leading to Stallone redoing a part of the scrip to explain Paulie’s slimmer look.

The Rocky statue was the subject of much debate

The A. Thomas Schomberg-made Rocky statue featured in Rocky III attracted controversy. Stallone had tried to donate it to the Philadelphia Museum of Arts, but they had initially refused it due to it being a movie prop. Nowadays, the statue stands proudly at the bottom of the so-called Rocky Steps that lead to, yes, that same museum.

Clubber Lang was a real-life tough man

Lawrence Tureaud, aka Mr. T., is a real-life tough man, having worked as a body guard for 10-years. Among his notable clients were Ali, Joe Frazier, and Leon Spinks. He also served in the U.S. Army, and worked as a bouncer for several years.

Drago only spoke 46 words


Dolph Lundgren’s Ivan Drago, Rocky’s foil in Rocky IV, uttered just 46 words in 91 minutes in the film. Two of his lines, though, are classics: “If he dies, he dies” (after killing Apollo Creed) and “I must break you” (before going 15 rounds with Rocky).

Stallone nearly died


Stallone wanted Rocky IV’s fight scenes to look as authentic as possible. The towering Lundgren took it to heart, and sparred full on with Stallone. Unfortunately, one of Lundgren’s punches slammed Stallone’s heart against his breastbone, sending the real-life Rocky to the ICU for 8 days.

Rocky was supposed to die

In Rocky V, Stallone felt it was the right time to retire Rocky. In fact, he had already written into the script how Rocky would die. The studio rejected the idea, forcing Stallone to rewrite parts of the script.

Adrian was supposed to be alive

Stallone told USA Today that Adrian was still alive in Rocky Balboa‘s original script. But Stallone, along with Young, felt the need for a plot-driving backstory to account for the 16-year gap between Rocky V and Rocky Balboa. That meant Adrian had to go due to “woman cancer,” as Rocky put it.

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