When ranking the Rocky movies, you’ll find a lot of fans putting Rocky V lower down the list, if not right at the bottom. However, the 1990 movie was particularly special for Sylvester Stallone in one regard, as it gave him the opportunity to work with his son Sage, who played Rocky’s own son, Robert Jr. More than three decades after Rocky V’s release, Stallone got candid about how the movie was impacted by his real-life relationship with Sage, who passed away in 2012.
Although Sage Stallone appeared in a handful of projects over his life, his most well-known credit remains Rocky V, where he made his acting debut. Sylvester Stallone touched on the fifth entry in the Rocky film series during Sly, the documentary about his life that Netflix subscribers can stream now. When he was asked if his relationship with Sage factored into what happened between Rocky and Robert in the movie, and he responded:
There’s never been any question that Sylvester Stallone has a strong work ethic, especially when it comes to the Rocky film series (though he doesn’t have any ownership of it). However, as the actor noted with the above statement, prioritizing work can come with consequences, and it sounds like in his case, his relationship with his son suffered to a degree. As such, he used Rocky V as a way to present what he would’ve liked his relationship with his own son to look like. Granted, Rocky and Robert had their own issues during Rocky V, but by the end, they came out of it with a stronger bond.
Alas, in real life, relationships like this can’t be fixed this quickly, if ever at all, and unfortunately Sylvester Stallone and Sage didn’t get as much time together as they should have after the latter died at the age of 36 from coronary artery disease. He was the fourth actor to play Robert Jr., following Seargeoh (Sylvester Stallone’s second son) in Rocky II, Ina Fried in Rocky III and Rocky Krakow in Rocky IV. Milo Ventimiglia then took over the role for 2006’s Rocky Balboa due to Sage being busy making his short film Vic, and the This is Us alum briefly reprised the role over a decade later at the end of Creed II.
Among the other topics that were discussed in Sly was how the title subject used movies like Rocky to process childhood trauma, and Stallone himself admitted in a grateful message that the documentary ended up covering more of his personal life than he expected. Sly has earned a lot of positive critical reception, so head to Netflix to watch it now if you haven’t already. If you’d rather watch Rocky V or any of the other original movies, those can be streamed with a Max subscription.