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Best Unscripted Scenes In The Rocky Series

Prior to its recent hit spin-off Creed, the Rocky franchise rested largely on the hulking shoulders of writer, star, and frequent director Sylvester Stallone, who wove portions of his own real-life story so deeply into the character that he almost didn't need a script to play him. In fact, most of the Rocky movies include a number of unscripted moments, and we've gone through the hard-hitting series to bring you some of the best.

Rocky (1976)

The original Rocky's shoestring budget forced director John G. Avildsen to cut a number of corners, perhaps most notably during the scenes showing Rocky jogging through the streets of Philadelphia. More often than not, the crew was operating without permits or hired extras, using only the bare minimum of equipment so they could get on and off the shoot without attracting attention. The scene of Rocky running past a boat moored along the docks was a spur-of-the-moment decision from Avildsen, who made the shot himself after having Stallone get out of the car and run alongside it while they were out scouting locations. The part where Rocky's loan shark boss pulls out an inhaler and puffs on it mid-convo? You guessed it—unscripted as well.

The greatest unscripted scene in Rocky, and arguably the entire franchise, takes place when the Italian Stallion erupts in frustration after Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith) offers to manage him. Rocky's monologue during this scene was entirely improvised by Stallone, who later admitted that when he yelled "this whole place stinks," he wasn't acting—the apartment where they were filming really was cursed with a rotten odor.

Rocky II (1979)

After the gargantuan success Rocky enjoyed, tight budgets were much less of a problem for the next few sequels. Any boxing movie depends on meticulous choreography that can easily go sideways, and Rocky II is no exception. During the climactic fight sequence, you can see Rocky and Apollo Creed angrily getting in each other's faces after the end of the second round, but what audiences didn't know was that Stallone and co-star Carl Weathers were really going after each other when the scene was filmed. Both stars, upset over mistakes made during the shoot, lost their tempers and broke character—but Stallone decided to leave it in, correctly surmising that it added some extra intensity to the match.

Rocky III (1982)

Burt Young, who played Rocky's brother-in-law and eventual cornerman Paulie Pennino, gave the Rocky franchise some of its most memorable moments—often with no more than a facial expression. Look no further than Rocky's rematch with Clubber Lang (Mr. T) in Rocky III. At one point, Rocky accidentally spits on Paulie's shirt after taking a swig from a water bottle, which was actually a mistake on Stallone's part. Young's reaction, while genuine, was perfectly in keeping with Paulie's character.

Rocky IV (1985)

It's a Rocky tradition for the actors to get their bells rung for real in the ring, and during Rocky IV, Stallone actually ended up in the hospital after taking this policy to the extreme. For the filming of Rocky's fight with Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), Stallone decided they should hit each other for real. Lundgren ended up punching him so hard in the chest that it caused Stallone's heart to swell, putting him in the ICU for four days.

Lundgren's intensity sparked a different kind of unscripted emotion during the filming of Drago's fight against Apollo Creed. At one point, Lundgren tossed Carl Weathers into the corner of the ring—enraging Weathers, who stormed off the set and threatened to quit. This caused another four-day halt in production that only ended when Stallone intervened and negotiated a reconciliation between the actors.

Rocky Balboa (2006)

Being whooped on by Dolph Lundgren during Rocky IV wasn't enough to convince Stallone to change his ways. While filming Rocky Balboa, Stallone and co-star Antonio Tarver also fought for real. Given that Tarver is actually a professional boxer and Stallone was 60 at the time, it isn't hard to believe Stallone's admission that when Rocky's shown being knocked down for a nine-count during the fight, he really was having a hard time getting back up. Sly also revealed that a portion of his dialogue during Rocky's scenes with Marie (Geraldine Hughes) were improvised. He recalls ad-libbing the "average bear" line about dancing, not remembering where he got it from. It was probably in a Cloud.