After news broke earlier in the week that MGM had green lit “Creed,” a Rocky spin-off with acclaimed rookie director Ryan Coogler at the helm, Balboa fans went into overtweet. Coogler is reportedly planning to direct Michael B. Jordan (of “The Wire” fame) in the part of Apollo Creed’s grandson, heir to the Muhammad Ali-esque protagonist from the first four films of the boxing saga.
Jordan, who played the ill-fated Wallace in David Simon’s sprawling Baltimore-based tour de force, would be wise to approach the offer with a note of caution: Those who have wandered into Sylvester Stallone’s parallel universe (one that mirrored the peaks and troughs of his own acting career) found that life was far from sunshine and rainbows once the credits rolled.
Shire clinched Best Supporting Actress awards from the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics for her role as winsome Adrian Pennino in the 1976 original. Sister to Francis Ford Coppola, she had already appeared in the first two Godfather movies (against Coppola’s wishes) as abused spouse Connie Corleone. The future looked bright.
As “Yo Adrian” became an increasingly whimsical and one-dimensional character (Mrs. Balboa spent the majority of the sequel in a coma) Shire’s career went into rigor mortis. Stallone killed off his beloved in 2006 (a well-worn plot device that had previously accounted for Burgess Meredith and Carl Weathers).
A former linebacker with The Oakland Raiders, Weathers assumed the Ali to Stallone’s Chuck Wepner before drifting into Tinsletown limbo. His most notable appearance outside of the canon came in the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle “Predator” (1987). Unfortunately, the original cut featured one of cinema’s worst ever bloopers, when his character lost an arm, only to reveal the supposed missing limb taped behind his back.
After VHS turkeys “Action Jackson” (1988) and “Hurricane Smith” (1992) failed to establish him alongside Hollywood’s action star A-list, Weathers’ career stalled. He has since appeared as a parody of himself in US comedy show “Arrested Development.”
Mr. T (real name Laurence Tureaud) came to prominence in “Rocky III” (1982) as the belligerent ghetto blaster Clubber Lang. He went on to capture huge success in NBC’s smash hit “The A-Team” — a series that made him an icon of ‘80’s pop culture and a heavily merchandised cartoon-like figure.
As the decade came to a close his popularity diminished with the backlash unflinching. In 1995, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer (T-cell lymphoma).
Swede Lundgren, who played Cold War death machine Ivan Drago in the homoerotic and unapologetically jingoistic “Rocky IV” (1985), may have earned himself seven RAZZIES and the Marshall trophy for Meilleur Comedien (best comedian) for his performance, however it was all downhill from there.
After following up his breakthrough role with the lead in “Masters Of The Universe” (1987) — little more than a promotional film for Mattel action-figures — he disappeared into a B-Movie abyss, starring in such beauties such as “Fat Slags” (2004) and “One In The Chamber” (2012).
Oklahoma’s Morrison was a blonde-haired great white hope with a 23-0 record when Stallone cast him as turncoat protégé Tommy “The Machine” Gunn in the fifth instalment of the series. The curse got to work on him immediately: Morrison was sued for assault and battery by stuntmen Stephen Santosusso (broken jaw) and Todd Champion (fractured cheekbone) after he and Stallone opted to make fight scenes with the pair a little too authentic.
Morrison — a Mike Tyson pastiche in the movie — suffered a sickening real-life knockout defeat to “Merciless” Ray Mercer in 1991 and was subsequently diagnosed HIV positive. He would later serve 14 months in prison for narcotics and driving charges as his personal life spiralled into squalor. Despite refusing to accept his condition (or appropriate medication), Morrison candidly admitted he abused steroids throughout his career (“Without steroids, I wouldn’t have gone as far as I did. I guarantee you that”).
Sage Moonblood Stallone was the oldest of Sly’s children (to Sasha Czack) and co-starred with his father in “Rocky V” (1990) and “Daylight” (1996). He was just 13-years-old when he debuted alongside Morrison as Rocky Jr. in the poorly received fifth outing.
Something of a recluse in later life, he was found dead at his home on Mulholland Drive last year after suffering a heart attack.
Tarver was the light heavyweight champion of the world — the man who had dethroned the great Roy Jones Jr. — when he agreed to play Mason “The Line” Dixon in franchise reboot “Rocky Balboa” (2006). However, in his first bout back after the wrap party, “Magic Man” took a pasting from recently deposed middleweight boss Bernard Hopkins.
Connecticut enigma Chad Dawson bested him in a brace of contests before the Floridian was busted for anabolic steroid use last year after a cruiserweight bout with Nigerian Lateef Kayode – a scandal that torpedoed his burgeoning career as a blow-by-blow commentator with US network Showtime.