"Well, I’ll tell you the truth, I didn’t know what a blockbuster was, but I knew it was good writing; very good writing. Sylvester [Stallone] wrote well. I was thrilled to get involved...the first because it was the invention and the third because I thought Sylvester did a very good job...The thing with the meat locker, I had him hitting the meat, that was not written down," stated Academy Award-nominated actor Burt Young, who talked about his role as Paulie Pennino in the "Rocky" film series. Check it out!
PC: It’s an honor to speak to you.
BY: Thank you!
PC: The Silver Screen Sports Film Festival is coming up. They are featuring four films and “Rocky” is one of those films and you will be in attendance for the festivities. When you guys filmed this movie in 1976, could you even imagine that 42 years later, it would still be so talked about and such a prominent film?
BY: Well, I’ll tell you the truth, I didn’t know what a blockbuster was, but I knew it was good writing; very good writing. Sylvester [Stallone] wrote well. I was thrilled to get involved.
PC: When you go to events where there are Q&A’s involved, is there a most frequent question asked to you?
BY: There are many things that they ask me. I’m not as dopey as I look (laughing). No, everybody is kind to me.
PC: (Laughing) You actually boxed in the Marines as an amateur, did some pro boxing as well, and managed boxers, so playing the role of Paulie Pennino wasn’t a new boxing experience for you.
BY: I fought pro, amateur in the Marine Corp, and I had 19 professional fights. I lost one. I lost my first pro fight and that’s it, but I lost a couple of teeth.
PC: (Laughing) That’s the price you pay for winning I guess.
BY: A little bit.
PC: Do you still have a love for the sport of boxing?
BY: Of course I do. Definitely!
PC: When you’re doing a movie like “Rocky,” was it tough to pull off because you’re trying to reenact and choreograph something that is so physical and so real?
BY: Sylvester was a champ at that. He could choreograph everything. He was wonderful. He is very intelligent, very bright, and very physical too.
PC: It must make you feel good that after 42 years, people still refer to you as “Paulie.” I think that’s a testament to the mark you left on us playing that character.
BY: (Laughing) It is nice. But they call me a lot of things. Depends on the list or the movie on the screen, ya know?
PC: Definitely! None more synonymous than “Paulie” though. I watched a video where you were honored with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” by the Hoboken Film Festival and you were really emotional during your acceptance speech. Why was that such a touching moment for you?
BY: It was just very special to me. To be honored by people in the business and people in the fight business, it was very honorable. I like that.
PC: I also watched an interview where you said Muhammad Ali was the only hero that you’ve ever met because of his ability to basically single-handedly end the Vietnam War. How special was he?
BY: He was great! I did an exhibition with him. It was wonderful. That was a very exciting part of my life. We didn’t try to hurt each other, but it was wonderful.
PC: It’s interesting because you didn’t start off liking Ali. You didn’t care that he was a loudmouth and, on top of that, you were a marine.
BY: Yeah! It was luck that we became great friends. He was loud and I’m a quiet fella most of the time. But I got to realize the champ. I got to realize what a champ he was.
PC: I also read that you almost had to kick Hulk Hogan’s ass on the set of Rocky III, which I’m sure you are capable of doing.
BY: (Laughing) He hit me by accident, which I didn’t appreciate. It was not hard, but I didn’t appreciate it at the time. But he was just sloppy. I think he was just excited I guess, ya know.
PC: He almost caught hands for that excitement.
BY: (Laughing) Yeah, he did. They had to hold me back.
PC: You also received an Oscar nomination for the role. Just some of the honors that came from playing the role of Rocky’s brother-in-law and assistant trainer are remarkable.
BY: Wow! It’s very exciting. It’s still exciting. I just finished working out in Rhode Island. So I’m still keeping busy. I just got home. It’s pretty nice. The people were sweet. It’s very nice. I got a good life, ya know.
PC: That’s awesome, my man. I’m happy to hear that. I like the fact that you still embrace it and you still seem to love people and the atmosphere of it all.
BY: I do! I enjoy and I appreciate people, yes. And if they care, it goes a long distance with me, ya know.
PC: We are in such a weird time because there was actually a hoax out that you had passed away and you literally had to put out a video to show you were still alive. How weird was that?
BY: (Laughing) I’m still here. I guess that’s the world that we live in today.
PC: What is the biggest difference as far as filming now as opposed to back in 1976 when “Rocky” was filmed?
BY: Moving to video as opposed to tape. It makes it much easier and quicker. You don’t need that lighting like you used to need. Most of the time you spend getting the lighting right. Now, you don’t have to. You can go right into it.
PC: I’m sure you get this question a lot, but I have to ask you, what is your favorite “Rocky” movie or movies?
BY: The first because it was the invention and the third because I thought Sylvester did a very good job.
PC: You introduced him to the meat locker, where he was punching the hanging meat.
PC: Was that a thing or just something for the film?
BY: The thing with the meat locker, I had him hitting the meat, that was not written down.
PC: That was an adlib. Wow.
BY: Yeah, it was.
PC: It’s been a pleasure speaking with you and definitely an honor to have the opportunity to conduct this interview. I want to wish you the best of luck during the Film Festival and hopefully we can talk again in the near future. Is there anything else you want to say before I let you go?
BY: I appreciate your time and your care. Thank you!
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]