How Rocky, the Movie was Made

Happy 2021 to everyone. In the UK we start the year far from what anyone wants, in yet another bloody lockdown due to the the Corona Virus. My 1st Blog of 2021 is an excerpt from a book I’m currently reading Tyson fury’s – THE FURIOUS METHOD. It’s a great lesson in resilience that is much needed for everyone right now & a fascinating tale of how the movie Rocky written & starring Sly Stallone was made.

Rocky Balboa once said (yes, I know he’s not real!): ‘It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s how about hard you can get hit and keep moving forward’. He’s not just talking about boxing, either. He’s talking about resilience, defined as the ability to adapt in the face of change, trauma, adversity and stress; to bounce back and keep going; to never give up. Sly Stallone knew a thing or two himself about not giving up. In fact, the journey from writing the Rocky screenplay to the film making it to the big screen is in many ways an analogy for Rocky himself.

Long before the Rocky franchise earned more than $1 billion, Sly Stallone was a struggling actor with a slurred voice he’d had since birth and an acting career that couldn’t even catch a cold, never mind a break. he’d had – legend has it – eighty-odd auditions and not scored one single job. Stallone was living semi-rough, his sometime house an oversized sheepskin coat he slept in. He’d sleep in bus stations and rent impoverished rooms where he said they had hot and cold cockroaches. He went from audition to audition and was getting nowhere. But he didn’t give up on acting, even though it seemed to have given up on him. It got so bad financially that one night he had to make a choice: he could either feed his new wife and himself, or their dog, Butkus. Stallone was forced to sell his beloved bullmastiff to $40 to a short man with an attitude outside a 7-Eleven.

Soon after, Stallone had an audition with a couple of producers for a film. True to form, he wasn’t right for the role, but as he was leaving, his hand on the door handle, he said ‘I write too’. He told them the outline for Rocky – they didn’t know it wasn’t actually written yet, but the idea had been in his mind ever since he saw a journeyman boxer called Chuck Wepner go 15 rounds with Ali in 1975, even knocking Ali down in the 9th round before being knocked out himself – and the producers said they wanted a look at the script. Sly went away and wrote Rocky in just 3 days! The producers loved it and made an offer of $100,000 for the script.

Given that Sly had barely $100 to his name, the 100k offer was a fortune, the first taste of sweet triumph in what had been a life of dejection and rejection. Stallone had worked every menial job possible (including one cleaning lions’ cages) in order to survive. He agreed with the fee on the basis the producers allowed him to play the lead role. They had other ideas: Burt Reynolds was one, as was Ryan O’Neal, who’d done a little boxing as an amateur. Sly said no, it was him in the role or nobody, and the offers went up and up. Though they offered him over $200k, he held out for the lesser offer of $70k, but with him still in the lead role.

He hadn’t forgotten about his four-legged friend. Sly found the man he’d sold Butkus to and asked to buy him back, to which the reply was, ‘Sure you can have him… for 3000 bucks’. In the end the man agreed to a part in the film and is in the opening scene.

What should we take from this? When you work hard at something and invest in yourself in it, no matter what the odds against you might be, never lose hope and belief in yourself. Who could have predicted that night outside the 7-eleven when he watched his dog wander away with a stranger that Stallone’s films would go on to make over $4 billion? He’s a survivor who is pure resilience; he couldn’t get an acting job so he wrote a role for himself. Never give up, there’s a Rocky & a Sly inside all of us.

Being resilient is about having a sufficiently clear idea of what you want to achieve, so that whatever life throws at you, you will get back on course, however long it takes, however thick the fog, and reach your desired destination. so keep flipping going y’all!!

To buy the book click – HERE

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