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ROCKY BALBOA - Round #19 - Stallone charges out of the corner, knowing that there's just one more round to stay on his feet!

Hey folks - Harry here... I have to say, this back and forth has been exhausting. I've accumulated over 150,000 questions from literally all over the world, all walks of life. I don't know if any of you have an idea what it's like to read letters that are so passionate about their personal hero - but for me, it's been a bit overwhelming. So much so, that last night when I sent the questions - I double posted one of the questions. Fear not though - Sly gave this set one helluva set of answers - and his Bill Clinton story kinda rocks - and oh yeah... Stallone has a question... FOR YOU ALL TO ANSWER IN THIS TALK BACK. The two way street of the Internet has never been cooler - let's hop into it...

1. Sly, I recall shortly after the success of "Lords of Flatbush" there was a television series based on the movie. I actually remember watching the pilot and somebody else played Stanley Rosiello. Were you asked to be in the show? Or were you already on to bigger and better things? Mark
Well, at that time I don’t think I had even done ROCKY and I would’ve loved to have been on the show, but think they were going for younger cast, I believe… I’m a little vague on the facts. What I do know is I have fond memories of THE LORDS OF FLATBUSH, because it was the first time I was able to write dialogue for my character, and that was so thrilling, because I’d never heard words from the page come alive. The director - actually there were two directors, Stephen Verona and Marty Davidson, who are presently trying to revitalize the project as a rock ‘n’ roll revival musical. I wish them luck. Broadway is a nasty opponent. P.S. I just have to drop in that we had our Philadelphia premiere last night and - I don’t know how to quite put this into words - but it was truly emotional for me, as thousands of loyal fans lined the streets outside the theater. I felt so vindicated because I was bringing home a character and finally laying him to rest in the town that loves him so dearly. I wish all of you could’ve seen it. Occurrences like this are so rare, and to finally give this character a triumphant good-bye was the crowning moment of my professional life. Then this morning I awoke to see something ironic. There’s a lesson in all this for everyone. I knew that suggesting another ROCKY be made, that the laughter was perhaps warranted. In the New York Post, an incredibly popular newspaper, they had previously called it “Olden Gloves” and “Stallone’s Final Failure.” And just this morning I awoke to see, on the cover of the New York Post, a huge color photo of Rocky with the bold headline saying “Knockout!” How great is that? So don’t any of you think your dreams are foolish.
2. Dear Mr Stallone, I have a question regarding Rocky V for you that I´ve been trying to ask for a long long time. As we all know by now Rocky originally would have died in the fifth movie. So my question is: How was the first storyline for the movie? Was it originally planed that he fights Tommy Gunn in the ring, wins and dies after that? Did you create an emotional end? So all in all please tell us a little bit about how the fifth movie originally was planed. Thanks a lot! Sascha David Germany
No, Rocky was never supposed to fight Tommy Gunn in the ring. What was supposed to happen was a massive street fight that was picked up by a local TV camera, then beamed onto local televisions where other affiliates picked it up and it became viewed by the entire population of the city, culminating with Rocky’s victory, but ultimately his death in the arms of Adrian. It was not a very good idea, but sometimes bad ideas lead to good ideas, such as getting one more opportunity to do Rocky right. I could not have written ROCKY BALBOA back in 1990; I just wasn’t mature enough. So again, great gain rises from great pain.
3. Hey Sly, I just read that you're really going to miss writing Rocky, and that you really regretted having not written the novels back in the day. I suppose my question from there would be that if you're really going to miss writing him, then why not just keep writing him? It seems like you're a great appreciator of art, and being that the comic industry is rising to a more adult market with more diverse art styles everyday, why not take that love of writing & art and pitch to a comic company like IDW? Personally I'd love to see a Rocky graphic novel about all different points in his life to flesh him out even more so than you already have. With all the attention the industry has been getting from different celebrities making their own books (Stephen King,Richard Branson & Deepak Chopra of Virgin, Rosario Dawson, Brad Meltzer, etc) I can see a Sly penned Rocky book out there without a doubt. Just a thought, and I'm chomping at the bit to see Rocky Balboa on Wednesday out here! Best of luck, and thanks for your time, Zak Kinsella
Actually, what you have is a very good idea. Maybe it would be welcomed, but I have to say I’ve been given a grand blessing by being able to give Rocky a worthy send-off, and I feel that he should remain in people’s hearts the way he was last used in ROCKY BALBOA, and maintain a dignified remembrance of the character… so I’d be nervous about reactivating him in any other incarnation, but thanks for the thought.
4. Hi Sly, Been a huge fan since I was a kid in the 80’s, can’t wait to see the new Rocky film. I would love to hear your views on this question! When you sit back and watch a movie do you perceive a film as the audience would? I mean do you watch a movie and look at the acting, the effects or story line? Or just sit back and enjoy as someone not in the film industry would? Knowing what it takes to make a movie it must be hard to just switch off and believe as such! Regards, Alex Mackenzie Ayr Scotland
When the movie is truthful and you know you’ve done the best you could, like in the first one, maybe the third one, and certainly the last one. I can sit back and enjoy the emotional journey. Now, when a scene fails to activate any truth buttons in one’s brain the process of watching a film is incredibly uncomfortable, because it’s a lifelong reminder of your inability to capture the moment and deliver to the audience what they deserve. Overall, most performers watch their past performances with a tinge of pain. It’s like being sentenced to walk around for the rest of your life with a small amount of gravel in one shoe. Now, when I watch other performers’ work, for the first fifteen minutes I’m extremely focused on the mechanics. It’s like pulling back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz - just knowing how the damn machine works - and it spoils the magic. That being said, when the movie starts to build up a head of steam, and it’s firing on all cylinders, I’m swept away like each and every one of you.
5. Hello Harry! I hope it isn’t too late for one more question for great Mr. Stallone: Hello Sly! First, thank you for those Q&A sessions @ aintitcool, they really bring You even closer to the fans and show what a great person You are – I wish that more legendary stars would do that kind of things. Since this topic haven’t been discussed yet, I would like to ask a question about (in my opinion) highly underrated film “Assassins” – having worked with such legendary action movie icons as director Richard Donner, producers Joel Silver and Lauren Shuler Donner, writers Larry and Andy Wachowski of “The Matrix” fame, even Your co-star Antonio Banderas had his action-hour with “Desperado” and “Zorro” series, what was it like being surrounded by those people? Was there great camradery on the set, or was it a troubled production? Maybe You can share some story or anecdote from the set? Also, how do You think, why, with all the talent involved, wasn’t the movie succesful at the box office? With best regards and lookin’ to see Rocky Balboa here in theatres – Sergei Timonin, Latvia
First of all, I’m going to encourage friends like Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke and whoever else you all would like to have these talkbacks with, and let them know it’s been such a fantastic experience for me to get out of my shell and feel your pulse. It’s very important for these men to do this to get out of their own shadow. Now, as for ASSASSINS, I really enjoyed the camaraderie. At that time, Julianne Moore was an up-and-comer and she is incredibly well-read. I used to tease her about being the sexiest nerd west of the Mississippi and she agreed. She’s an ex-Army brat who lived all over the country and would lose herself in hundreds of books. So let it be known, she’s brilliant and also has the best calves in the business, quite remarkable. Antonio was great, while being very charming and still struggling with the language. He managed to create a different kind of opponent. A lot of the reviews criticized the pairing, but he was coming from a European point of view, and I thought it gave a new twist on an old subject; for example, young guns vs. old guns. Originally, I wanted Nick Cage to play the part, but something in the upper echelon of the producing world went awry. I also thought Kevin Bacon would be great… but Antonio was excellent, and let it be known, in that last scene between he and I, he was brutalized with all the effects and dust and falls he had to take. But I must tell you; the original script was much better, much tougher and thrilling. For example, my character, after his first kill, comes back from the swamp, cruises downtown and picks up a prostitute. Taking her back to his apartment, he sits down on the opposite side of the room and just wants her to talk. She says, “About what?” “Just about your life,” he says. He was only interested in trying to share some human emotion that would include him in the human race, because he’s felt so isolated and alone that even a prostitute’s life would be more interesting than his own. I also felt there were too many thinly disguised, politically correct messages in the movie, like: “Save the Fur,” “Save the Whales,” “Pro-life.” How about “Save the Actors,” now there’s a campaign I could get behind.
6. Hey Rock! Why, do You think, all good sports movies are about boxing? Rocky series, Raging Bull, Cinderella Man, Ali, The Hurricane, even a women boxing - Million Dollar Baby and boxing is one storyline in QTs Pulp Fiction. Why boxing is so popular in movies? Thanks for doing this! Hau Estonia
I believe boxing is a very, very lonely journey taken by an individual and not a team. There’s no rallying by the cheerleaders, there are no bond-fires before a game, there’s no parading around of the Homecoming Queen. If anything, it’s a descent into self-introspection, and herein lies the connection - we are all fighters. We are underdogs forever. Nobody beats life. So the metaphor of the ring is subliminally connected to the struggles that each and every one of you face every day. We all know what it’s like to want to strike out in anger, and we all know what it’s like to be delivered a low blow.
7 & 8. Hello Mr. Stallone. Can you tell us which U.S. Presidents you have been privileged to meet? Do you have any interesting stories or personal recollections you can share regarding any of these gentlemen? Thanks. I can't wait for Rocky Balboa! David in Washington
I was filming F.I.S.T in ’77 when Jimmy Carter had a letter sent over to the location, which happened to be in Washington. So I went over to the White House for lunch, and what I found ironic was that the President called Rocky… and even though he was in the middle of a terrible Panama Canal crisis, still chose to hang out for a half hour. After that there was Ronald Reagan, who was a fantastic guy. I went down into the basement and watched a screening of ESCAPE TO VICTORY with him. The theater was pretty dismal considering it was in the White House, and here I was with the most powerful man in the world, sitting with our feet up on folding chairs, sharing a colossal bowl of popcorn. I met him again several years later, and I have to admit, the light in his eyes had dimmed. The pressure of the job had certainly taken a toll. Then, I met Bush Sr. and his wife, Barbara, who are really great people. I mean, just stand-up American stock. Politics aside, Republican, Democrat, who cares? I’m just saying they were the kind of people I’d imagine 300 years ago developing a land and representing good old American values. Then, I spent quite a lot of time with Bill Clinton, who is the Pied Piper. This man has brains and the gift of gab the like of which I’ll never see. I remember golfing with him once. I have the terrible habit of swinging a golf club behind the individual who’s ready to tee off. It’s a really horrible habit. Imagine someone snapping a bullwhip behind your head as you’re trying to hit a golf ball. Finally, he turned around and said, “If you don’t knock that crap off I’ll have you audited!” I thought that was pretty funny. As for the current President, I was supposed to meet him but was at a fundraiser for my good friend, Governor Schwarzenegger.
9. Hey Sly, love your work! I'm an avid professional boxing fan. I recently watched Rocky 3, probably for the first time since it was on cable in the 80's. Viewing it now as a fan of real boxing, I was shocked (and I don't say this disrespectfully) about how unrealistic the fighting was. In a real match, any single head shot either of the characters landed would have lead to a out-on-your-feet knock-out. I realize there's "real" action and then there's "Hollywood" action, but my question to you is as a boxing fan yourself where do you draw the line? How over-the-top is too over-the-top? And how has you approach to realism changed for Rocky Balboa compared to your earlier films in the franchise? -- Bill Cable
I couldn’t agree with you more. I look at the boxing in most of the other ROCKYs and agree. The majority of the punches are over the top, BUT it’s more of a dramatization, such as the way wrestling in the WWE is compared to college wrestling. We both know one is real and quite often pretty stagnant, whereas the other is composed to create a dramatic effect and certainly not border on even the outer fringes. That being said, I’ve learned my lesson in ROCKY BALBOA, and the majority of the fight is as realistic as I can make it because the punches are real for the most part. But there are also moments of heightened action, which are also necessary to keep the story’s thrust alive.
10. Dear Sly, I'm going to hit you with a tough question but you have been very honest so far, so I think you will answer this honestly. Having grown up and been a fan of the golden age of action movies "The 80's", why do you believe that true action fans never got to see their ultimate dream action movie with all the biggest action stars in their prime? I'm talking about why we never saw a great action movie staring Stallone, Ford, Schwarzenegger, Willis, Van Damme, Seagal, etc? Please do not say because of not finding the right material, because you know as well as I do, true action fans would have paid good money to see you guys running around the streets of Kalamazoo shooting up Soviet Mutant Ladybugs. I believe the answer is because of "EGOS", if I am wrong than please correct me. Also know it's not too late for you guys to come together and remake the classic Yul Brynner "Westworld", or if you want to hear more about my "Commies in Kalamazoo" than just call me. I will be part of the $27 million dollar opening weekend box office. All the Best! Craig Farkas Beulah, MI
Thank you. My answer is simple. Ego, ego, ego, ego, ego EGO! When you get an army of generals and no privates, what do you think is gonna happen? Absolutely nothing. At the time, and maybe for a long time, we were all competing against one another - even though no one will admit that, it’s true. That’s why Arnold and I had a running gag for years… and there’s no doubt that he wanted to win in the marketplace, like I did or Bruce or Harrison Ford. As for Van Damme and Seagal, I really can’t put them and these men in the same bracket, so the chances of working together were pretty remote. Van Damme, Seagal and Norris were more designated to performing films that were simply athletic, so all plots had to lead to them beating the crap out of their opponents with their martial arts skills, whereas other action stars were more varied on how to deal with the villain. But I remember once, at my home in Miami, I believe it was in ’96 or’97, Van Damme was there with Seagal, Willis, Schwarzenegger, Shaquille O’Neal, Don Johnson and Madonna… it was a heck of a party. Van Damme was tired of Seagal saying he could kick his ass and went right up to him and offered him the chance to step outside so he could wipe the floor with him, or should I say wipe the backyard with him. Seagal made some excuse and left. His destination was some Ocean Drive nightclub in Miami. Van Damme, who was completely berserk, tracked him down and again offered him a fight, and again Seagal pulled a Houdini. Who would win? I have to say I believe Van Damme was just too strong and Seagal wanted no part of it. That’s just my opinion. P.S. I really enjoyed doing this Q&A and I plan on doing it again. First, I’d like to get your feedback on the idea of remaking DEATHWISH with a slightly different slant. Instead of the Charles Bronson character being an architect; my version would have him as a very good cop who had incredible success without ever using his gun. So when the attack on his family happens, he’s really thrown into a moral dilemma in proceeding to carry out his revenge. Tomorrow ROCKY BALBOA opens, and if there’s one favor I can ask all of you it is to please throw your weight behind the film. I would truly appreciate it. I’ve learned a lot from you and you certainly have understood what makes me tick, and I hope to be friends with you in the future. I mean that. I believe these conversations have been incredibly important for bringing me up to speed with the minds of the cinema experts. I’d love to have your support and shock the world with this incredible moment that I thought would never happen. At the risk of sounding incredibly corny, I would consider your support to be, on this weekend, the greatest Christmas present I could ever have hoped for. Thank you and I look forward to our final Q&A tomorrow.

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