Rocky Balboa 2006: New Characters and Actors

Rocky regularly visits his wifes grave including it on his tour of all the places that meant something to him. The pet shop is boarded up, he describes. He reminisces in the ice skating rink, which is completely gone into obliviou. But hes out there among the bricks and rubble still in his mind skating with Adrian, until Paulie snaps him out of it.

Rocky's Son

Rockys attempts to reach out to Robert, his son, go unreciprocated. Its a very meager emotional relationship that he has with his son, which is the last link he has to his wife, explains Stallone. His son has a problem that a lot of children living in the shadow of a successful father do. He cant compete with his father, which he shouldnt. So he has chosen to live and dress and move and do everything in a way that is diametrically opposed to his father.

Milo Ventimiglia plays Robert Balboa, Jr. The actor, who has worked primarily in television the past decade on such series as Gilmour Girls and Heroes, notes that as in the original film, Rocky starts the tale down and out. Hes got to turn things around but he needs the people he loves at his side, says the young actor. And theyre not there. This film really connects emotionally with the first one. Theyre both simple, human stories.

Grown-Up Little Marie

Irish-born actress Geraldine Hughes, author and star of the acclaimed play Belfast Blues, was selected by Stallone to play little Marie, now grown and a single mother living on a particularly dodgy street in South Philadelphia.

The character, originally played as a teenager by Jodie Letitizia, got the biggest laugh in the first film by calling out to Rocky Screw you, creep after he walked her home, saving her from a juvenile delinquency. Hughes notes that while Rocky and Marie form a tentative relationship, its too early for Rocky to let go of Adrian. Both Adrian and Talia Shire, who created the role, are completely irreplaceable, she says. She remains an enormous force in Rockys life in this film.

But in Marie, Rocky finds a human connection that he desperately needs. Marie and Rocky do have a beautiful journey together in the story, she says, but its not romantic. Theyre completely alone in their lives. Marie feels invisible and Rocky takes the time to stop and see her, then take her along on his new adventure.

Marie's Son

With his own son so distant, Rocky also reaches out to Maries teenage son, Steps (James Patrick Kelly III), and ultimately invites both Marie and Steps to come and work at Adrians. He starts to mentor her in a sense, to protect her, says Stallone. And he starts to show her kid a little bit of attention and this kid begins to blossom. So, in a way, Rockys grief also brings about some good things. Steps is slow to trust, and when he first sees Rocky he thinks only the worst, says Kelly. But pretty soon he realizes Rockys not a bad guy and actually kind of cool.

Mason “the Line” Dixon

When ESPNs Man vs. Machine pits two athletes from different eras against each other in a computer-generated competition the current heavyweight champion Mason The Line Dixon against former two-time champ Rocky Balboa Rockys life takes a nearly imperceptible turn.

The computer-generated fight and its curious outcome energize him to apply for his boxing license, which he doesnt get without a fight, thinking he will perhaps take on some small-scale local bouts. Rocky sees that and the light bulb goes off, explains Stallone. He says, Wow, I can do something I love. And Id rather do something I love badly than to feel bad about not doing it. But that effort brings all this wrath down on him, the humiliation, the prejudice, the stereotype about age. Even his son says hes just making them both look bad.

There is so much that Rocky wants to communicate to his son, but Robert grew up so different from his dad that Rocky just seems ridiculous to him. Rocky wants his son to know that life aint all sunshine and rainbows, Stallone says. Its a rough, nasty place and it will beat you to the ground unless you can stand up. And its not how hard you can punch; its how hard you can take a punch. Thats what Rocky is about.

To play Mason Dixon, Stallone sought out the real life light heavyweight champion at the time, Antonio Taveras. If youre going to go around one last time why not end it with a real fighter, someone who doesnt have the benefit of the magic of choreography Antonio can really fight and he went in there with a great deal of practice to throw a reckless amount of punches.

Dixon has won every fight but is nonetheless disrespected by the people who should be his fans. His promoters have a brainstorm about a surefire way to turn that around. They want to lure Rocky back into a championship fight. Technically, he never lost the belt in the ring; he retired, comments A.J. Benza, who plays L.C. Luco, Dixons manager. So, in a sense, both he and Mason Dixon are champs. They guarantee he wont get hurt, so everybody wins.

Mason doesnt understand why the public isnt on his side, says Taveras. Its not until hes in the ring with Rocky, having to put up or shut up, that he realizes that respect has to be earned. In a lot of ways hes fighting for his life.

Though Rocky is reluctant to put himself out there to be potentially pounded and embarrassed, Marie reminds him that while this may be a publicity stunt for the other side, it doesnt have to be for him. Your fight is with yourself, adds Stallone. Mason is a vastly superior fighter but he lacks one thing: hes never been in deep. Hes never been taken out into the deep waters and let go. And the last place you think youre going to have that moment when youre going to be forced to do something remarkable or fail is in the ring with a 58-year-old man. For the first time in his life the champion has to prove that he has more inside, that he has been carried and protected and now hes exposed.

Listen to Your Heart

For Rocky, the fight is for everything he ever loved in his life for Adrian, for Robert, for Marie and Steps, for Paulie and for anyone who ever believed in the dream. You cannot listen to anything other than your heart, says Stallone. For the actor, a return to the story of the Italian Stallion give his a chance to express to a whole generation the idea that when you want something badly enough, no one can tell you not to go after it. Know that, yeah, youve got to be a little realistic, he says. Youre not going to do something thats physically impossible, but you can go far beyond what people think you can do if you believe in it. Its about commitment to ones self and also loyalty to the ones around you that you love.