Sylvester Stallone Wrote A 90-Page First Draft Of Rocky In Just Three Short Days

It can take some people quite a long time to finish their passion projects. There are plenty out there that are just like Richard Dreyfuss' character in "Mr. Holland's Opus," with huge aspirations to create the next great symphony, comic book, novel, or painting, but life just gets in the way. Even James Cameron took over a decade to craft his sequels to "Avatar," which itself had been in development for fifteen years before it finally got released in 2009.

On the flip side (and definitely not saying that either category is better since everyone has their own process), there are other people who have no choice but to birth their artistic vision into this world immediately. For example, when Sylvester Stallone wrote the Academy Award-winning sports drama "Rocky" in 1975, he was just as much of an underdog as his titular boxer. While he had some success following the release of "The Lords of Flatbush," the relatively unknown actor was new in Hollywood, only had $106 in the bank, and was expecting a child very soon. He even had to sell the family dog in order for the beloved pooch to get the proper care it needed to survive. So needless to say, Stallone needed a win and needed it quickly.

Luckily, inspiration struck after watching the championship boxing match between Chuck Wepner and Muhammad Ali on March 24, 1975. The now-legendary action star started working on his story about a man that shoots his shot and goes the distance, which was an idea that he held very close to his own heart in those days. And he completed the first draft in a surprising amount of time. Although, Balboa still had a way to go before making the jump from the page to the screen in 1976.

Eye Of The Tiger

In an interview with Michael Watson (via Forbes) to celebrate the 25th anniversary of "Rocky," the movie's writer and star revealed that he completed a 90-page script in only three days, then began shopping it around town. However, just because he had this first draft doesn't mean that this was the version that ended up in theaters around the world. In reality, only about one-third of that original script was used in the movie. But he accomplished one of the hardest parts of the creative process: Getting started.

When I was a young screenwriting student, one of my professors told us that our pens are filled with a whole lot of s***, which is both good and bad. In order to get to the best stuff, you just have to keep writing. Stallone did exactly that and ended up with a master script that clocked in at 117 pages, a classic rags-to-riches story set amidst the iconic landmarks of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Of course, he still had to deal with the huge hang-up from the studios about casting a no-name as the star of a motion picture. Thanks to the momentum he accumulated from pushing through with his script, Stallone continued to bet on himself and insisted that he was the perfect actor for the job. He recounted:

"This is one of those things, when you just roll the dice and fly by the proverbial seat of your pants and you just say, 'I've got to try it. I've just got to do it. I may be totally wrong, and I'm going to take a lot of people down with me, but I just believe in it.'"

Five sequels and some spinoffs later, clearly Stallone was onto something all those years ago.

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