Sylvester Stallone breathed new life into the Rocky franchise when he returned to the character after a long hiatus. But the one person who tried to discourage Stallone from lacing up his gloves again was his own partner.
Sylvester Stallone’s ex-wife begged him not to return to the ‘Rocky franchise
It wasn’t easy for Stallone to reprise his role as Rocky in the series’ sixth film Rocky Balboa. The actor wasn’t satisfied with where he’d left the franchise off with the divisive Rocky V. A couple of years later, Stallone sought to redeem the franchise with another sequel. But many weren’t sold on the idea.
A series of circumstances, however, would help get Rocky Balboa off the ground.
“So, at that time MGM was just not interested and I thought, This is never going to happen. Then, as fate would have it, MGM was sold [to Sony], new people in, and that was it. But I have to thank the guy who really got the ball rolling, [Revolution Studio president] Joe Roth,” Stallone once told Entertainment Weekly.
Stallone’s sixth Rocky film would focus on a much older Rocky Balboa, which was intentional on the actor’s party.
“I wanted to wait until I was like 55. I wanted that kind of story. But when I turned 55, nobody wanted to do it. So it’s just been sitting there for the past four years. It’s a miracle it’s been made at all,” Stallone said in a 2007 interview with Total Film.
But it was perhaps for those reasons why Stallone’s former wife wasn’t on board with her husband’s return to the ring.
“My wife begged me not to do it, though. That’s why I wrote the line in there: ‘I’d rather do something I love badly than to feel bad about not doing something I love,’” Stallone explained.
Because of Stallone’s own reflections, Rocky Balboa was a film that was very close to the actor. It was more than just an attempt to redeem the franchise for Stallone. The actor found himself in a similar headspace as the boxer he was portraying.
“It’s like, oh you had your moment, time to move on. I thought, now it’s really starting to be an interesting premise. Taking that personal journey, dealing with grief, getting the stuff out of the basement. I thought we had a weighty story,” Stallone said.
But after the film, Stallone believed he’d said everything that he needed to about Rocky Balboa. So much so he doubted the franchise had any sequels in it left.
“When [Rocky] says, ‘Yo, Adrian, we did it!’ He means, we’re done. We lived the life. I’m a big believer that, in life, we can’t succeed in everything. Most times, we lose. But the few times we do win, we have to make sure they were the important battles,” Stallone said. “Lose the little ones along the way, sure, but make sure you win the ones that relate to love and relationships and major personal passions.”
At the time of Rocky Balboa, Stallone seemed to have embraced his legacy as an action star. This was a different outlook than a much younger Stallone had, who tried to avoid typecasting with films like Cop Land.
“But as reality sets in, there are certain actors that are character, and there are certain actors that, early on, get inextricably linked with a certain character,” he said. “I was too naïve to understand that and tried to do everything to move away [from it]. It’s that classic: he doth protest too much, when in doubt, shout. If I had learned [all] that years ago, I would have had a much more enjoyable life.”
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