Can iconic film characters like Rocky Balboa ever die onscreen? Certain studio executives would answer “no” — claiming characters such as James Bond and Indiana Jones will live on forever. After all they’re more than characters, they’re a franchise business. Why kill them?

But according to Sylvester Stallone backstage at the Golden Globes tonight, even cinema’s greatest boxer is finite: “He will not live on forever. He represents what life is all about. It’s a cycle, and the greatest men have died. Really important men — doctors, Galileo. As it’s said in Creed‘Life is undefeated. Your time passes.'”

Further expounding, Stallone admitted, “I was very prepared in this movie to (have Rocky) pass on. So we left it at a point where he is ailing and left it up to the audience’s imagination.”

“What Creed says is that life is a one-strike baseball game. You get one chance and you better fight to leave it,” added the actor who won his first Globe tonight after being nominated in 1977 for Rocky in the best drama and screenplay categories. “That’s what Adonis gave Rocky: an ideal to live. Dying is easy. Living is hard.”

Stallone mentioned that he would be challenged today by the studio system if he tried to make Rocky. “If we released it today, it would be in 25 theaters,” he said about the changing tide in Hollywood moviemaking and the difficulty for individual artistic voices to break through. “The studios are always about the bottom line.”