When an actor creates an incredibly popular and beloved character, then can have one of two “relationships” with the protagonist moving forward. In one instance, they can embrace everything good and bad that comes with being that character, all of the time. Think Kevin Smith and Silent Bob. Or, they can loathe the character and try to avoid discussing them at all costs. Think Harrison Ford, with… well, basically every character he has played. Sylvester Stallone will always be known as “Rocky” to his adoring fans. The poor guy probably hears “Yo, Adrian!” every single place that he goes. But on Thanksgiving, he took the time to explain to fans why he’ll never take the character of Rocky Balboa for granted, and it was honestly very sweet.
Rocky Balboa has been a symbol for the underdog ever since Sylvester Stallone initially played him in 1976. The downtrodden boxer with a heart of gold and an inability to quit, Rocky speaks to every person who has even felt mismatched, counted out unloved. Stallone worked the formula for numerous sequels, and has since shepherded a spinoff in the Creed franchise centered around Michael B. Jordan, that has also made room for Rocky as an important side character.
Why is Sylvester Stallone thankful for Rocky, more than four decades later? Part of the love, and the allure, rests in the character’s time-tested ability to keep appealing to fans. Most importantly to Stallone, though, is that he believes Rocky Balboa best represents himself, the actor, as a human. Rocky is a personal creation of Stallone’s, so their mission statements remain forever intertwined. It’s not like Sean Connery with James Bond. The 007 agent was a creation of Ian Fleming, and Connery just inherited the role. Stallone made Rocky. Rocky made Stallone. They basically don’t exist without one another, and Stallone recognizes that. It’s a wonderful thing for which to be thankful.
The future of the Rocky franchise is a mystery at the moment. We thought Sylvester Stallone was done with the boxer in Rocky V. Then we REALLY thought that this moment from Rocky Balboa was the character’s sendoff:
Yet, there have been recent rumors about Michael B. Jordan coming back for Creed III, and possibly even directing the sequel. And even though Balboa had a cancer diagnosis in the series, he’s making amends with his family (son Robert) and ready to explore new chapters. It’s a legacy that keeps on giving, and for that, Stallone will forever be grateful.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.