VIDEO: Sylvester Stallone Reveals 'No One Wanted Me for Rocky'
Sylvester Stallone stopped by this morning's TODAY on NBC and revealed that the powers that be in Hollywood did want him to play the iconic role of boxing champ Rocky Balboa in the 1976 film. The actor shared with Matt Lauer that the bigwigs instead hoped that Burt Reynolds, James Caan or Ryan O'Neal would take on the role. Watch the appearance below!
"They wanted every celebrated actor at the time," Stallone explained. "And big name directors, when they found out I wanted to be involved, they scattered, ran for the hills."
Yet Stallone had one advantage over the others in this situation - he was the writer who owned the rights to the story and that gave him the power to prevent the film from being made without him.
Amazingly, Stallone, who had just $106 in his bank account at the time, turned down an offer of $300,000, the equivalent of $1 million today, to sell his story to the studio. "It was really insane at the time 'cause I was pretty broke," he said of his decision to hold out.
In the end his movie was made and picked up the 1976 Oscar for best picture. It also spawned a six-film franchise that's earned $1.2 billion and a current stage production now playing on Broadway in which he serves as one of the producers.
ROCKY brings to life the iconic and inspiring story of struggling small time Philly boxer, RockyBalboa, who gets a once-in-a-lifetime shot to go the distance against heavyweight champ Apollo Creed. Both an adrenaline-infused spectacle and a surprising story of blossoming romance between two lonely outsiders, Rocky is a heart-stopping and viscerally theatrical new musical for everyone brave enough to follow their dream.
Produced on a shoestring budget, the original 1976 film, Rocky, was shot in 28 days, and starred its young and then-unknown screenwriter, Sylvester Stallone. Like the character of boxer Rocky Balboa, Stallone had to fight the studio, which wanted more bankable stars like Ryan O'Neal or Burt Reynolds, to be cast in the role. Stallone's performance would earn him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and launch his career as one of Hollywood's biggest stars. The small underdog film went on to become an American film classic, winning the 1977 Academy Award for Best Picture, and launching one of the most successful and iconic characters in Hollywood history.
ROCKY features an original score by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, the celebrated Tony Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated songwriters behind Ragtime, Once on This Island, and Anastasia, and a book by multiple Tony Award-winner Thomas Meehan (The Producers, Hairspray, Annie) andSylvester Stallone, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the 1976 Oscar-winning Best Picture, Rocky.