Rocky Balboa's Sylvseter Stallone

For Sylvester Stallone, Rocky strikes a resonant chord because audiences see themselves in the character. With a 30-year-span since the release of the first film, which won the Best Picture Oscar, Stallone sought to create a story that would connect these ideas to a new generation.

Universal Dream

“The film's central truth is that anything is possible if you believe enough. It's a pretty universal dream to try to rise up and take your best shot at life,” says the writer-director-star of “Rocky Balboa.” “You may not totally be successful, but at least you had the chance. I think that's the biggest frustration a lot of people have in their own livesnever getting their shot.”

Producer Charles Winkler notes that “Rocky Balboa” represents the completion of Stallone's decades long quest to bookend the story with a worthy finale: “Sylvetser was a man on a mission. He wanted tit to end on the right note, a story that could make you believe again.”

Last Sequel

Adds producer William Chartoff: “Rocky has never really left Sylvetser's system. To him, it was unfinished business, just as it is the character's legion of fans around the world. Though “Rocky Balboa” is really the last sequel, in many ways it's the most like the original

Street Prose

The first movie was a little film, but written like a masterpiece,” says Burt Young, who has portrayed the character of Paulie, Rocky's best friend and brother-in-law, for three decades and six films. Ninety-eight pages of street prose. There was no fat. And it was very romantic. Lots of people never fully appreciated how terrifically romantic it was. I was excited by it. It was probably the best screenplay I ever read.

Returning to Same Existence

In the new movie, Rocky has, in many ways, returns to the same kind of existence he had in the first film. Says Stallone: “He's literally back where he was at the beginning, all alone, except he has lost his naivet. He's very worldly. There's a certain calm about him. He carries himself with a weight on his shoulders but with that also comes a kind of enlightenment. Rocky knows more and tries to convey more. He doesn't have as big a chip on his shoulder that he had.”

Sense of Loss

Rocky's only safety net in a tricky, shifty world is now gone. Adrian (played by Talia Shire) has been taken too early by cancer. Rocky, not the type to complain, has lost the shoulder he always had to lean on. Stallone explains: “If the most precious thing is taken away from you and your stability is askew, your best years have supposedly come and gone and you're alone, you wonder, 'What do I do now' He has had all the glory he's ever wanted, but his wife has died; his son has moved on. Everything he thought was the ultimate dream is gone and now he's just alone.”

Loyal Buddy

Rocky has made a home for Paulie, even cooking breakfast for best pal and brother-in-law. “Paulie is a little bit insensitive but in the end, he adores Rocky,” comments Stallone. “It's his buddy and he couldn't live without him, but it's just that sometimes familiarity breeds contempt.”

Rocky regularly visits his wife's graveincluding 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 oblivion. But he's out there among the bricks and rubble still in his mind skating with Adrian, until Paulie snaps him out of it.”

Rocky's Son

Rocky's attempts to reach out to Robert, his son, go unreciprocated. “It's 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 can't compete with his father, which he shouldn't. So he has chosen to live and dress and move and do everything in a way that is diametrically opposed to his father.”

Most Affecting Moment

Even 30 years later, the most affecting moment comes when Rocky sprints up the grand steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which opens out to the citys breathtaking skyline. It is the most familiar and beloved moment among all the Rocky movies. A day does not go by, probably never an hour, that locals and tourists dont make that same run, raising their arms in triumph, hearing Contis iconic theme in their heads. That run is the distillation of Rockys existence, says David Winkler.

On the day the production was to shoot the sequence in which Rocky runs up the steps with his dog Punchy, the script called for snow, but none but a few random snowflakes was forthcoming-until the sky opened up. Production cranked into motion.

So, I ran up the steps with Punchy, and when we finished it stopped, Stallone recalls. The last run up the steps was in this cloudburst of white, and we shot from the beginning to the end of this burst. It was a very emotional time for me. I was thinking, When I well cut its over.

30-Year-Journey

Its like a 30-year journey–everything Ive ever had in my life, everything that Ill accomplish that is really worthy, is done. And Im looking at the city; the sun is going down, and I think, At least you did it. You got here. You ended it, in the snow, on the steps in Philadelphia. Perfect, thank you, Lord. And then it was over.