Sylvester Stallone says 'Rocky IV' fight scene nearly killed him: 'My heart started to swell'

Sylvester Stallone attends the Warner Bros. premiere of "The Suicide Squad" at Regency Village Theatre on August 02, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo credit Getty Images

Action star Sylvester Stallone is always good for another story that proves what a tough guy he really is. But he's also getting a little reflective at 75, especially with the limited release of the director's cut of "Rocky IV."

In a recently uploaded documentary to his YouTube channel, called “The Making of Rocky vs. Drago,” Stallone looked back at the fight scenes in “Rocky IV” and how they nearly killed him.

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“The first thing we shot [was] my entrance,” Stallone explained, “his entrance and the introductions, and then I got really injured during the fight and I had to be flown into intensive care to California from Canada.”

“Well,” he continued, “he pulverized me. And I didn’t feel it in the moment, but later that night my heart started to swell. My blood pressure went up to 260, and I was going to be talking to angels. Next thing I know I’m on this emergency, low-altitude flight.”

The smashing hit to the chest that Ivan Drago (played by the massive Dolph Lundgren) landed -- and landed Stallone in the hospital -- is in the finished film. It took Stallone four more days in ICU before he could return and finish that scene. Talk about Method Acting!

Another interesting exchange in the surprisingly revealing YouTube doc is when Stallone admits he missed some depth in the film. He talks openly about how the movie was a lot about guilt, that Rocky allowed the Russian giant -- the man he was supposed to batle -- to fight, and subsequently kill, Rocky’s friend, Apollo Creed.

The interviewer asks, “Was that the theme that was prominent in your head [when you made it] -- guilt?”

“Um, not so much… I was thinking more like a great adventure. And I didn’t think of the ramifications…. it has profound repurrussions.” Repercussions that Stallone said were felt all the way until the last Rocky sequel in 2015, "Creed". "But," Stallone admits, "it never felt like that [back then]."

“So," asks the interviewer, "do you think you made a mistake?”

“Absolutely,” says Stallone. “It was too superficial. And that comes with age. Obviously I’m a lot older, and been through a lot of wear and tear emotionally, and you understand the human condition. Back then, it was very superficial, and it was about the physical level. And now I realize the physical level is nothing compared to the mental.”

To celebrate the anniversary of the 1985 film, the expanded “Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago - The Ultimate Director’s Cut” will be shown today only in selected theaters around the country.

Of course Stallone is never down for the count. Next up, as the New York Post reported, Stallone’s got loads of his “Rocky” memorabilia set for auction in December. His signature red boxing gloves from “Rocky III” and nearly 500 other props used in movies throughout the actor’s career are expected to bring in up to $1.5 million. The red gloves alone will likely sell for $10,000 to $20,000 at the event.

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