Sylvester Stallone might be tossing in the towel on Rocky Balboa: The actor, whose boxing hero has been looking tigers in the eye since the 1976 Rocky, suggests in an Instagram post that the recently released Creed II will mark his final involvement in the 42-year franchise.
“I just want to thank everyone around the whole wide World for taking the Rocky family into their hearts for over 40 years,” Stallone wrote in a post that accompanied a video of what seems to be a beach bonfire gathering of the Creed II cast and crew. “It’s been my Ultimate privilege to have been able to create and play this meaningful character. Though it breaks my heart, Sadly all things must pass… and end. I love you Kind and generous people , and The most wonderful thing of all , is that ROCKY will never die because he lives on in you ….”
Not everyone is convinced of Stallone’s follow-through, though. Dolph Lundgren, the franchise’s Ivan Drago, suggested today on Good Morning Britain (and reported via Digital Spy) that he’s skeptical. “I’ve heard that before,” Lundgren said. “I don’t really believe it, but we’ll see.”
It would end a memorable encounter between the two athletic actors in Rocky IV. In the run-up to his Oscar nomination for the first Creed, Stallone told Deadline some terrific stories about squaring off against Lundgren, as he was describing how Michael B. Jordan willingly absorbed a full on punch to the face by Tony Bellew, a 3-time boxing champion. Asked about the punishment Stallone absorbed in making the early Rocky films, Sly talked about how his brawling with Lundgren nearly killed him.
“Carl Weathers really hit hard, and the gloves we were using were small,” Stallone said. “They said they were eight ounces, but they were more like six ounce gloves. I look at them today, and I go, “Oh my God, what was I thinking?” He cracked my rib, but luckily, that was at the end of the movie when we were doing body shots.
“But the hardest I was ever hit was with Dolph Lundgren, who was immense and had been the World Kickboxing Champion. He was tall and had tremendous leverage. I told him, as I told Michael B. Jordan, “You know, we have to really focus on realism.” And he took it a little far. But I had just seen this real fight between Hagler and Hearns, which is just a classic all-out battle, and I thought, “God, why don’t we try to reenact that?” There’s no way you can choreograph that. You just have to go for it because it’s so frenzied that there’s no way you can just learn that punch pattern. It’s just impossible. I needed that kind of uninhibited violence which these two fighters had for each other. So I tell Dolph, “For the first 30 seconds, just come at me with everything you got, and I’ll just try to duck and dodge and do the best I can.”
“Well, he comes at me, and he throws me into the corner. I’m battling back, and then bang, bang, bang, three times in the body, and I managed enough oxygen to say, “Cut.” Then, we proceeded for the rest of the day. It wasn’t until that night that my heart started to pound. I went to the hospital. My blood pressure was around 240, and next thing I know, I’m on a low altitude flight to Saint John’s Hospital where I was in Intensive Care for four days because the pericardial sac around my heart started to swell. He hit me so hard in the chest that the people at the hospital said, “Usually, this is the kind of injury you get from a head-on collision.” I said, “Well, it was pretty close to that.” They said, “It’s like a car accident.” I said, “Well, I think I was hit by a truck.” After that, I said, “Dolph, be careful, will you?” I definitely got what I wished for, but then the insurance company shut us down. And the lawyers came over and investigated the film, and saw the actual impact, and understood. You know, you actually don’t feel it in the moment. I’m amazed at how these fighters do this, every day. I have the utmost respect for that.
Can Stallone possibly give up such a storied and beloved character? Watch the Instagram video below.
In the video, Stallone describes Creed II “probably my last rodeo” (he seems to be referring specifically to the Rocky character, not his career in general).
“I thought Rocky was over in 2006 and I was very happy with that,” he says in the video. “And then all of a sudden this young man presented himself and the whole story changed. It went on to a new generation, new problems, new adventures.” Stallone indicated Creed II co-star Michael B. Jordan as he spoke.
“Now you have to carry the mantle,” he says to Jordan, who plays Adonis Creed, Rocky’s protege and son of former rival Apollo Creed in the Creed movies (the first was released in 2015). Stallone also thanks director Steven Caple Jr. in the video.
Judge for yourself. Here is Stallone’s Instagram message:
View this post on Instagram
I am reposting this because there was a technical difficulty. I just want to thank everyone around the whole wide World for taking the Rocky family into their hearts for over 40 years. It’s been my Ultimate privilege to have been able to create and play this meaningful character. Though it breaks my heart, Sadly all things must pass… and end. I love you Kind and generous people , and The most wonderful thing of all , is that ROCKY will never die because he lives on in you ….