Sylvester Stallone has enjoyed an acting career spanning four decades and multiple film franchises, including Rambo and The Expendables, but even now he is perhaps best known for Rocky, the 1976 movie he wrote and starred in which propelled him to household name. In a recent in-depth interview with Variety, Stallone spoke about his long-standing affection for the character, and his frustration that he was never given an ownership stake in the franchise he helped create.
"[Rocky is] like my brother," he said. "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." Stallone has recently been able to revisit his character in the Creed movies, in which Rocky Balboa trains Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son of his onetime rival.
But despite playing Rocky in multiple sequels over the years, Stallone remains angry that the studio never offered him annuity in the franchise — something he could have passed on to his children or grandchildren. "I have zero ownership of Rocky," he said, even though the entire series began with a screenplay that he wrote. "Every word, every syllable, every grammatical error was all my fault. It was shocking that it never came to be, but I was told, ‘Hey, you got paid, so what are you complaining about?’ I was furious."
Stallone added that he didn't know enough about show business at the time to push the issue, saying: "I think there was a certain code of business conduct, maybe not as much now, but back then, you don't want to ruffle the feathers of the golden goose... 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."
While Stallone might, in hindsight, feel that he was ripped off by the studio, he is still clearly fond of the character — to the point that he and producer Irwin Winkler are currently planning another Rocky movie independent of the Creed series, as well as a possible Rocky prequel TV series.
And it sounds like he's since made his peace with the way things shook out: "I love the system — don’t get me wrong. My kids and their kids, they’re taken care of because of the system. But there are dark little segues and people that have put it to ya. They say the definition of Hollywood is someone who stabs you in the chest. They don’t even hide it."
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