Sylvester Stallone calls his ‘Creed III’ absence a ‘regretful situation’

A man with gray hair and a gray beard smiling in a blue suit against a blue background
Sylvester Stallone attends a 2022 event for Paramount+ in London.
(Joel C Ryan / Invision/AP)

Sylvester Stallone pulled no punches when recently asked for his thoughts on “Creed III,” the latest boxing film in the “Rocky” franchise and the first to exclude him from the cast.

In a candid interview for a Hollywood Reporter cover story published Monday, the screen icon lamented his absence from the forthcoming “Creed” feature starring Michael B. Jordan as Rocky’s protégé, Adonis Creed. The third “Creed” movie hits theaters March 3 and marks Jordan’s directorial debut.

“That’s a regretful situation because I know what it could have been,” said Stallone, who has played Rocky Balboa in every other “Rocky” and “Creed” installment.


“It was taken in a direction that is quite different than I would’ve taken it. It’s a different philosophy — [producer] Irwin Winkler’s and Michael B. Jordan’s. I wish them well, but I’m much more of a sentimentalist. I like my heroes getting beat up, but I just don’t want them going into that dark space. I just feel people have enough darkness.”

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Stallone has been outspoken in recent months about his distaste for the Winkler family and what it has done with the “Rocky” franchise. In July, the veteran actor published a series of scathing Instagram posts skewering Irwin Winkler, his son, David Winkler, and “their entire extended family” for allegedly exploiting the beloved character and movie empire Stallone created.

Despite writing and starring in the six films with “Rocky” in the title, Stallone is not credited as a producer on any of them. (He is credited as a producer on “Creed” and “Creed II”). And he has been vocal about desiring a greater ownership stake in the blockbuster saga. By the time THR’s cover story came out, however, Stallone had accepted that was “never gonna happen.”

“It was a deal that was done unbeknownst to me by people that I thought were close to me and they basically gave away whatever rights I would have had,” he told the trade publication.

“At the time I was so excited to be working and I didn’t understand this is a business. Who knew Rocky would go on for another 45 years? I’ve never used one [line of dialogue] from anyone else — and the irony is that I don’t own any of it. The people who have done literally nothing control it.”

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Stallone also revealed that the Winklers recently asked him to do another “Rocky” film and that he was initially “willing to do it” — until they refused to give him “a piece” of what he “created all these years ago.”


“You can’t [make a Rocky sequel] just because you want your children to have a job,” Stallone told THR. “Or if you don’t get more money, that you can block it. The other producer, Bob Chartoff, was always very nice. Irwin Winkler was just the opposite.”

Though his opinion of the Winkler family remains low, Stallone said he was able to reconcile with actor Dolph Lundgren after calling his former co-star out for not involving him in the reported “Drago” spinoff centering Rocky’s old rival, Lundgren’s Soviet-Russian boxer Ivan Drago. Lundgren claimed at the time that he thought Stallone was on board.

“I’m actually calling [Lundgren] today because he underwent some ankle situation,” Stallone told THR.

“The Dolph thing, again. This is a classic case of them going around and trying to continually cherry-pick aspects of Rocky without even asking me if I want to join in. ... I’m the only one left out.”

Representatives for Jordan and the Winkler family did not immediately respond Tuesday to The Times’ request for comment.