How Sylvester Stallone made Rocky – A great lesson

34We all have seen the Rocky series and we all love them. The story behind how Sylvester Stallone made rocky is even more inspiring than the film.

Before he got into the film business he was completely broke and out of work. The only thing he knew was that he wanted to be in the movie business but whenever he went around for audition he was told he was stupid looking and did not know how to speak.

He went to more than 1500 agents even though there aren’t that many agents as he revisited the same ones repeatedly. He got a few odd parts in some movies but they never led to anything.  Despite his challenges he decided never to take up a regular job as he never wanted to take the risk of getting complacent & he was afraid he would lose his hunger for being in the movies.

One day to escape from the cold weather he went to a library where he came across a book by an author called PO & his readings inspired him to be a writer. Po’s writing inspired him to touch other people lives & not just worry about himself. He wrote a few screenplays but yet had no success a writer.

He however did manage to sell a screenplay for a film called Paradise Alley for US$100 which for him was a great sum of money at the time but yet it never led to anything better. He came to a point where he had to mortgage his wife’s jewelry and had no money for food. His wife left him but what’s worse is that he had to part with one thing he loved the most which was his dog as he had no money to feed him.

He sold his dog for US$25 which he says was the worst day of his life & came home & cried.

One night he went for Mohd Ali’s boxing match & he got the idea of Rocky & wrote it beginning to end within 20 hours. His hands were shaking as he completed it as he felt absolutely sure about the script. He took this inspiring script of his and tried selling it but received no success in selling it as everyone one found the story predictable & had nothing interesting in it.

Later, he finally found someone who believed in the script & said they would offer him US$125000 for the script. Sylvester agreed but laid the condition that he would star in it. This however was not acceptable to them as they saw him just as a writer, not an actor

The crazy thing here is that he refused to sell them the script if they did not agree to him at a time when he had no money to eat.

They raised the offer to US$ 250000 & he refused

They further raised the offer to US$ 325000 & he still refused

Finally, giving into his persistence they agreed to make the film with him & offered him just $35000 where he could start as the main lead which he readily accepted.

We all know the fate of the film. They made the film for under a million dollars & the film grossed over 200 million & won an Oscar.


What’s the biggest learning from his story?

He was absolutely clear about what  outcome he wanted.

The fact that he visited so many agents & stuck to his decision of being in the movie business shows his clarity about what he wanted to accomplish & that he would stick to it no matter what

He took massive action by meeting more than 1500 agents, despite taking one rejection after another.

He kept changing his approach until something worked.

Probably the most important approach in him making Rocky was that he kept changing his approach & kept trying different strategies to accomplish his dream of being an actor. If there is one lesson we could take from his story is to keep changing your approach until something works.

We often tend to do the same things over & over again & expect results to change but perhaps we need to decide to change our approach when something does not work if we want to achieve different outcome.

Failure did not stop him

If you see his life before he succeeded, you can he has constantly kept failing but what was most important was that he kept pushing ahead despite having nothing, no guarantee for success & taking one criticism after another & he still continues to do so at the age of around 65 despite the many ups & downs he has had in his career.

I’m sure for many of us, he will always remain “Rocky”

What happened to his dog?

The first thing he did after he signed the film was to go back to the place where he sold his dog looking for him & found the man & offered him US$100 when he sold him for only US$25. The man refused & he offered him US$500 but he still refused. He then offered him US$1000 & he refused. Eventually he had to settle by paying him US$15000 & gave him a part in Rocky.

The dog happens to be the same one who is in the movie ‘budkis’

The above is a narration by Tony Robbins which was first hand told to him by Sylvester Stallone.


5 Responses

  1. Sunil Singh says:

    It happens with all great things in the world. You can never achieve ‘great’ if you follow set patterns.

    Sylvester Stallone, like other true artists, followed his heart. You get failure in between, since at start you follow existing solutions. You change your approach to innovate, you get what you want. As you mentioned, the key is, sticking to your goal and making continuous efforts to achieve it.

  2. Aditi says:

    Inspiring story!

  3. abhi says:

    This is really inspiring .. thank u Satish 🙂

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