Films

15 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Rocky II

Step-bounding, meat-thumping, word-slurring, fedora-wearing - Rocky Balboa isn't your average film hero.

No, he’s an underdog, a people’s champ, a south-paw who narrowly lost out to Apollo Creed in the finale of 1977's Rocky, and thus provoke widespread clamour for a sequel.

Prayers were answered just two years later when writer/director/star Sylvester Stallone returned as the Italian Stallion, taking on Creed once more. And there's more to this thrilling second chapter of the franchise than you might think.

To see why, take a marvel at the interesting facts we’ve compiled about the 1979 classic, below.

You can pick up a copy of Rocky II here.

(Images: AllStar, Rex)

  • 15 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Rocky II

    1.

    That glorious colour-splatted portrait of Rocky? It was painted by famed US artist LeRoy Neiman who went on to appear as a ring announcer in the next three films before a cameo in 2006's Rocky Balboa.

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    2.

    Mirroring his on-screen motor habits, Stallone actually bought the black and gold 1979 Pontiac Trans Am he's seen splashing out on in the film.

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    3.

    An early draft of the sequel revealed that Rocky's real name is Robert - a slightly less cool name to have chanted around an arena, we think you'll agree.

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    4.

    In another early spec script, the big rematch was taken to the Italian Stallion’s ancestral home where the pair fought at the Roman Colosseum.

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    5.

    Rocky’s jog in the film, seeing him dash through a train yard and Little Italy before racing up the famous steps outside the Art Museum, would have spanned 30 miles according to an article by Philly Mag. Assuming the fighter was running at 8mph, it also claims the run would have taken him four hours.

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    6.

    Over 800 local school children were used as extras for the end of that montage scene.

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    7.

    Stallone was benching 220lbs while the film was in production. Inauspiciously, just ahead of filming the main fight scene, the weight dropped, tearing his right pectoral muscle and requiring 160 stitches. The scenes were still shot despite Stallone’s injuries.

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    8.

    In Europe, the film was released and marketed under the title Rocky II: Redemption.

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    9.

    Muhammad Ali was such a big fan of the original film, upon release of Rocky II he organised a private screening, watching it alongside eminent film critic Roger Ebert. According to Ebert, Ali was particularly fond of character Apollo Creed, noting how closely the fictional Champ's gestures resembled his.

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    10.

    The first and only time Adrian’s surname (Pennino) is mentioned is in Rocky franchise comes partway through this installment, carrying extra significance as it was also the maiden name of actress Talia Shire’s mother.

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    11.

    The only reason Adrian watches the final rumble at home on TV is because Shire was filming another movie when the fight scenes were shot. Her scenes were only shot several months later.

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    12.

    During the fight, Apollo Creed wears the same red and white shorts seen on the overhead banner being worn by Rocky during their first bout.

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    13.

    Stallone penned a paperback novel for the sequel, mostly first-person through Rocky’s imperfect English, adding separate bits in third-person whenever the hero wasn’t involved in an important scene.

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    14.

    Burt Young was considerably slimmer than he was in any other chapter of the Rocky canon as well-meaning schlub Paulie. While the noticeable weight loss wasn’t written into the script, the actor later attributed it to his own days as a boxer: “I go up and down - I used to be a fighter so I’m used to taking weight off".

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    15.

    It might not have matched the original by winning Best Picture at The Oscars, but Rocky II did win Best Picture at the inaugural American Movie Awards. It also bagged Favourite Motion Picture at the People's Choice Awards, proving once and for all that Rocky is the people's champ.

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