Hundreds in Philadelphia Show Up for 'Rocky' Casting Call

No one had to sprint up the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps or spar in a meat locker. All the hundreds of fans who packed the Philadelphia streets Saturday for an open casting call for extras for the new "Rocky" movie needed was a picture, a resume and a simple message that would have made the fictional ex-champ proud: "Yo, pick me!"

From the old to the beautiful, wannabe actors, aspiring models and regular folks grumbled their best "Yo, Adrian!" impressions at Heery Casting, trying to land a spot as an extra in the sixth — yes, sixth! — "Rocky" movie.

Don't tell them the world doesn't need another Rocky comeback.

Fifteen years after starring in "Rocky V," Sylvester Stallone is reprising his role as the boxing champ from South Philadelphia in the upcoming movie "Rocky Balboa."

Stallone told the Daily Variety trade magazine that the movie will focus on an aging, widowed Rocky who is reluctant to get back in the ring but ends up doing it "just to compete, not to win."

Casting director Diane Heery said filming has already started in Las Vegas and is expected to start in Philadelphia on Jan. 9 and last about four weeks. Stallone would pick many of the extras needed for scenes shot in various city locations, Heery said.

"They want the character and personality of Philadelphia," Heery said. "We're looking for the face to tell the story of Philadelphia. We're looking for real people."

Maybe that face belonged to someone like Vernon Ruffin, puffing a cigar in a camouflage jacket and sporting a super-sized afro. Ruffin, who said he just wanted to tell his kids he tried out for a "Rocky" movie, thought he had the look the casting directors wanted.

"I'd be good for the urban spin, South Philly and everything," he said.

Some were dressed in red, white and blue hats and shirts, there were women with model looks, and there were men with keg-shaped bodies and slicked hair adorned with enough gold chains to make former Rocky villain Clubber Lang blush.

Heery gave the same speech about a dozen times an hour to the 50 or so fans brought in at a time off the street: a brief synopsis of the movie, start dates and the expectations of the 12-plus hour days they should be expected to work.

The actors listed some basic personal information, left a photo and filed out. They'll be hoping for a phone call in the next couple of weeks, telling them they'll get to go the distance with Stallone. Or at least stand near him.

About one or two lucky actors out of about every 200 hopefuls were picked to audition for a speaking part.

One of them was 6-foot-4, 290-pound tough guy Bill Duff, of Delran, N.J., who recently finished a role as former Philadelphia Eagle Stan Walters in the football movie "Invincible." Duff played in the NFL, in Europe and the XFL before trying to make it as an actor.

With his shaved head covered by a winter cap with a skull on the front, and a goatee that makes him look a bit like pro wrestler Bill Goldberg, Duff thought he could be cast as a bar patron or bully.

"This is the look they're looking for if they need a street hood," Duff said. "I'm really shooting for a speaking role, but if you can get your face seen, you get your face seen."

The would-be extras with the eye of the tiger waited their turns in a line that snaked its way around the streets of the Old City neighborhood, bundled up for the hour or so spent on a windy, 30-degree day.

"I'm a local actor just trying to get some more work," said Rachel Holt, who said she worked on "Jersey Girl." "I would prefer some sort of speaking role, if I'm lucky enough."

Like Rocky going against Apollo Creed in the first movie, some were simply underdogs wanting to take their shot at the big time.

"I thought it would be a ball," Lynn Szafran said. "How can you be from Philly and not love the "Rocky" movies?"