AFI Movie Club Celebrates, Rocky! What’s Bette got to do with it? And Sarandon? And Cher?

American Film Magazine
AFI Movie Club: ROCKY
By The Staff
May 22, 2020

Susan Sarandon and Bette Midler (
Susan sarandon and bette midler duvaart Com

ROCKY is ranked on both AFI’s original and 10th anniversary lists of the greatest American films of all time! Rocky Balboa punches his way to #7 in the pantheon of AFI’s greatest screen heroes, and the film lands at #4 as one of the most inspiring movies ever. And the ROCKY theme song – “Gonna Fly Now” – is championed by AFI as one of the greatest songs from a movie ever. 

Movie Trivia about ROCKY

?-DID YOU KNOW that screenwriter Sylvester Stallone was offered $275,000 for the rights to his script, but he refused to sell unless he was cast as the lead?

-DID YOU KNOW Bette Midler was considered for the role of Adrian before Talia Shire was eventually cast?

Mister D: In a 1980 interview, Bette Midler revealed that she’d been considered for the role of Adrian. She explained: “One supporting role I should have taken, if my then-manager hadn’t turned it down, was the Talia Shire role in Rocky. I’d still like to work with Sylvester Stallone. There’s something about those beefy Italians that turns me on. But when he sent over the Rocky screenplay, my manager told me it was a nice role, a nice movie, but not for me. When I saw Rocky, I was really sad that I’d lost the chance to play that girl.” (

“Who did the fancy pants Hollywood suits wanted to cast other than me? – it was Ryan O’Neal, Burt Reynolds, Jimmy Caan, and even Robert Redford. But here’s an interesting footnote you might not believe, the first choice for Adrian was a girl named Carrie Snodgress, who I wanted badly because, at the time, I wanted Adrian’s family to be Irish and Harvey Keitel would be the brother. She said there wasn’t enough money in it (we were getting paid $360 before taxes), so I said: “I’ll give you my share, I truly want you.” She passed to do a part in BUFFALO BILL AND THE INDIANS, which never happened for her. The next choice was Susan Sarandon, but she was definitely too attractive. Then we went after Cher and they told us she wanted a million dollars, which is more than the film cost. And lastly, I had to arm wrestle Bette Midler’s manager Aaron Russo to get an interview with her, which, by the way, never happened. I had rewritten the Adrian part as Jewish, and, besides Paulie, she had a Jewish mother who truly despised Rocky. Obviously all this was relegated to the drama shit can when Talia Shire walked into the office and bells went off in my head.”

Sylvester Stallone, 2016

-DID YOU KNOW ROCKY was one of the first feature length films to use a Steadicam? Garrett Brown, who is credited with special camera effects for ROCKY, was granted a patent for the Steadicam process in 1977.

-DID YOU KNOW Sylvester Stallone donated the Rocky statue to the city of Philadelphia in 1982? It still sits at the top of the famous steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art!

-DID YOU KNOW elevated trains were no accident in the movie, the director would call action for a scene when they knew a train was coming?

-DID YOU KNOW the ROCKY script was inspired by the 1975 title bout between Muhammed Ali and Chuck Wepner?

-DID YOU KNOW ROCKY won three Academy Awards® – including Best Picture?

-DID YOU KNOW before his breakout success with ROCKY, Sylvester Stallone cleaned lion cages at New York Central Park Zoo?

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.

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One thought on “AFI Movie Club Celebrates, Rocky! What’s Bette got to do with it? And Sarandon? And Cher?

  1. I knew none of those things…except Bette Midler’s consideration that I had heard

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