Dialogue: Sylvester Stallone

It's an older, wiser Stallone who dons the gloves this go-round.

Sylvester Stallone gets back in the ring in MGM's "Rocky Balboa," which continues the saga of the beloved boxer from South Philadelphia. The actor, who also wrote and directed the film, shared his thoughts on the project on the eve of its theatrical release with T.K. Arnold for The Hollywood Reporter.

The Hollywood Reporter:
Why another "Rocky"?
Sylvester Stallone: I was very disappointed in (1990's) "Rocky V," and I wanted to end the series on an "up" note that the followers of the series would enjoy. Also, I felt how a man deals with the last third of his life would be interesting because eventually, everyone is going to have to cross this bridge. Do they go into the unknown of the future with optimism, or do they retreat into the glories and bittersweet memories of the past?

THR: How were you able to pick up the story so long after you left off?
Stallone: It took a lot of reworking of the script to find a dramatic crisis that would warrant the character Rocky being in a real underdog dilemma. With the death of his beloved wife (Adrian), he's poised to create interesting dramatic situations that are similar to the first "Rocky" (in 1976).

THR: How did you handle the aging of the actors, the characters and the story?
Stallone: Adrian is something that was always forefront in the story, and Rocky, more than anyone, realizes that by society's standards, he is considered obsolete. But he manages to ignore the insults and pursue a dream.

THR: What were your biggest challenges?
Stallone: First was casting my boxing opponent, second was casting the female lead and third was making the fight full of actual contact and realism.

THR: Tell me two of your favorite memories of making the movie.
Stallone: The day the snow poured from the heavens onto the steps (of the Philadelphia Museum of Art) as Rocky ascended them, and two, having my children actually stand in the ring with me to have a photo.