It is the film that birthed what became arguably the greatest franchise in the history of sports movies. Rocky was the story of the ultimate underdog, and it will forever go down as the first sports movie in history to win an Academy Award for best picture. In Rocky II, the main character fights personal and professional setbacks en route to shocking the world. Rocky III features Mr. T serving as Rocky’s foe and opponent. The Cold War came to an end in the 1980s. We can all probably thank Rocky IV for that. If you are anything like us, you like to pretend that Rocky V never existed and instead go right on to Rocky Balboa.
Those who are fans of the movies remember and love the famous scenes. They can picture Rocky slugging it out with Apollo Creed. They can hear the menacing Ivan Drago telling Rocky “I must break you.” There are probably plenty of things that you have either forgotten or that you never knew about the Rocky movies. This includes one of the main actors being hospitalized during filming, a tidbit about Rocky’s beloved dog, and some information about training sessions. This list will start with what was the inspiration for the Rocky series that is set to launch a new movie near the end of 2015.
10. Inspiration for Rocky
It is only fitting that the inspiration for the greatest series of sports movies happened to involve the greatest boxer to ever step foot in a ring. Sylvester Stallone, per Archana Ram of Yahoo Sports, watched Muhammad Ali take on Chuck Wepner in 1975 when he got the idea for the first Rocky film. Wepner was the underdog on that day, and he lasted longer against Ali than many believed that he would when the battle began. According to Yahoo, Stallone had his script just three days after the Ali fight. Thanks for another gift, Mr. Ali. You really are the greatest.
9. Rocky’s Dog
Do you remember the dog that was Rocky’s best buddy in the early films and that accompanied the fighter during one of his famous runs? It turns out, per Shortlist, that there was a good reason why Rocky got along so well with the dog. That dog was Stallone’s in real life. It made sense, if Stallone wanted the Rocky character to have a dog, for the actor to have had a relationship with the animal before filming started. Why use a “stunt dog” when you can have the real thing following you around the set? Who among us doesn’t want to take our dog to work every day?
8. Actors Were Denied
Here is a fascinating piece of Rocky trivia. Both Burt Reynolds and Robert Redford were first considered to play the movie’s main role. According to the Yahoo piece, the studio wanted Stallone to sell the script because it did not want him playing Rocky. Imagine, if you will, a world in which either Reynolds or Redford would have played Rocky Balboa. It is ridiculous that either man would be cast to play an underdog and journeyman fighter who slugged it out with unknowns inside of high school gyms and clubs. Stallone made the right call in refusing to allow anybody else to be Rocky.
7. Carl Weathers As Apollo Creed
So how did Carl Weathers land the role of Apollo Creed? It turns out that he got the gig by insulting the man who wrote the movie. Weathers, per Yahoo, claimed during his audition that he could have done better had he had a “real actor reading with me.” The actor he was working with was, of course, none other than Stallone. Stallone may or may not have been offended by the verbal jab. The man who would play Rocky was impressed with the attitude that Weathers flashed, as that was what Stallone wanted to see from the Creed character.
6. The Famous Training Scene
It is one of the most iconic scenes found in any of the Rocky movies. Rocky is getting into shape preparing for a rematch with Creed in Rocky II when some youngsters join up with him. By the end, everybody is celebrating after Rocky completes his famous journey up those hallowed steps. Dan McQuade of Philly Mag once took some time to try to figure out just how much Rocky would have run on that fateful day. McQuade estimated that, when all was said and done, Rocky had run over 30.5 miles. That is quite the jog to take as you get ready to face the heavyweight champion of the world.
5. Where Was Adrian?
As you probably remember, Adrian watched the rematch between Rocky and Creed while at home and not in person. This was explained in the storyline of the movie, but there was another reason for her absence. Actress Talia Shire was, according to Shortlist, busy filming a different movie when the fight scenes were shot. Shire thus had to be filmed “watching” the fight at a later time. One would hope that everybody involved would do a better job of scheduling. These things happen, though, and Shire was excellent in playing her part as a concerned wife watching her husband fight.
4. The Muppets Appearance
The Rocky character goes from being an unknown and an underdog to winning the World Heavyweight Championship. It would have only made sense, at the time, that the champ would have had an appearance on The Muppet Show. It turns out, as explained by a Shortlist piece, that Stallone had been on the actual Muppet Show years before the release of Rocky III. To help out with the movie, Jim Henson dubbed over the original footage so that it seemed as if the Muppets were introducing Rocky and not Stallone. We’d like to see a modern-day version of the Rocky character appearing on The Muppets.
3. Stallone Was Hospitalized
Stallone had a brilliant idea during the shooting of Rocky IV. He thought, according to a piece on Phactual, that it would be smart for Dolph Lundgren to hit him and vice-versa during training. Big guys who are not professional boxers hitting each other for real can bring some bad times, and that was the case for Stallone during shooting. Lundgren apparently hit Stallone so hard that the actor had to be hospitalized after he had difficulty breathing. It would later be learned that Stallone’s heart had been bruised after he suffered a punch to the chest. Not the best plan, guys.
2. Training 2.0
Of all the training scenes that took place in the Rocky universe, none may be more beloved among fans of the films than the one that occurred in Rocky IV. We hate to break kayfabe (look it up, non-wrestling fans), but Stallone did not actually travel to Siberia as the Rocky character was preparing to face Drago. Stallone instead, per Phactual, shot those scenes in Wyoming. But wait. There’s more. The fight that featured Rocky versus Drago was shot in Vancouver, British Columbia. Just remember that this knowledge cannot take away the fact that Rocky IV gave us the greatest soundtrack in the history of sports movies.
1. Forgotten Rocky
Rocky Balboa was, for those of us who suffered through what we thought would be the final movie of the series, surprisingly good. That movie features flashback scenes from each of the previous films except for one: Rocky V. Rocky V is instead completely erased from history via Rocky Balboa, and nothing from that movie affects the sixth installment of the series. That was and still is for the best. We all would like to pretend that Rocky V never existed. Some television stations continue to show Rocky V now and again for some reason. Stick to Rocky Balboa, everybody.