Rocky Star Andy Karl Trains for the Role of a Lifetime

By Robert Viagas
22 Feb 2014

Karl and Margo Seibert in rehearsal
Photo by Matthew Murphy

Yes, Karl will punch the beef. Yes, he will run up the big flight of stairs. And, yes, he will be drinking a glass of raw eggs. Or "maybe" on that last one.

"I'm trying not just to do a bad impression of Stallone. I'm trying to find my own pattern. I have to find the truth of the character. I have to use my own humor."

Ahrens said "Andy embodies the role without imitating Stallone. The sprit of the role is there — the vulnerability, the loneliness, the darkness, the humor — but we forget Stallone and fall in love all over again with Rocky."

The Daily Workout

In charge of Rocky's workout is U.K. fight director Stephen Hoggett, who directed an award-winning production of Beautiful Burnout, Bryony Lavery's play about a Scottish boxing gym. "I learned that boxing is like a language," Hoggett said. "There's a hundred and one schools on how to box successfully — the way you use your fists, the way you hold your shoulders — and 101 ways to throw a jab."

He drew inspiration from Joyce Carole Oates's classic book, "On Boxing," saying, "It is beautiful and spectacular writing. Right at the beginning she talks about how people say they 'play golf' or 'play baseball.' But nobody says they 'play boxing.' It is sport at its most pure and most extreme. I love that insight."

That's why he sent Karl to a trainer to work on body conditioning and why he has the entire company start each rehearsal with a warmup, leading to an intensive workout consisting of yoga, followed by strength-building exercises like sit-ups, push-ups, squat-thrusts, medicine ball workouts and running.