Actress Talia Shire (The Godfather) was the beloved Adrian in the Rocky movies, and she is one of the actors to have joined the first film in a faithful judgement of the fantastic script, and it was clearly a good choice, as the film went on to be come one of the most popular of all time. The first movie was made for under a million dollars, and it went on to earn over $225 million in the box office. No one could have known in the days of filming the movie in the freezing cold that it would have been so successful, except for maybe Rocky’s trainer Mickey, actor Burgess Meredith.
In an interview at TCM Fest in 2016 (via /Film), Shire described the working conditions on Rocky, saying:
“‘Rocky’ was very low budget you need to know this and we were in Philadelphia during, it was December and it was freezing cold. And we had sort of a community truck where cables were the costumes were. There they put a couple of mirrors by the wall, we were so freezing cold our breath made fog on the mirrors. We couldn’t see as we changed our clothes.”
The shooting schedule for Rocky began in January of 1976. It debuted in New York the following November, making a fast shoot and fast post-production process. The film boasts no glitz, with low-rent, working-class apartments providing the backdrop, and a love story between Rocky and Adrian providing the emotional foreground. Shire is excellent in the film — she was nominated for a second Oscar — but she credits Meredith for keeping her spirits up in the bitter cold and cheap trailer.
“I’m changing my clothes next to this great actor Burgess Meredith and he’s putting on his Mickey cap and he was full of creative joy. This is a great actor. No complaints. And he sort of set the key for the rest of us as actors. This is what a professional actor does he brings that great sense of creativity and collaboration and boy he was for all of us, all the actors he set that standard.”
Meredith was a fantastic actor, and it sounds like he was a dream to work with. It’s so cool that even in the worst conditions he was able to bolster his co-stars and make everyone remember the love of making a movie. Meredith passed away in 1997, just shy of his 90th birthday. He will always be remembered for many of his roles in Hollywood, with Rocky being at the top of the list.