Pin It

‘Rocky: The Musical’ Star Andy Karl on Trying Out for the Role and Taking Hits to the Head: “I’m suffering for my art”

ANDY-KARLFamously, the story of the making of the 1976 film Rocky is an example of art imitating life. While writer/star Sylvester Stallone might not have been a professional boxer, he was a down-on-his-luck 29 year-old actor who became an overnight success with Rocky. Over three decades later Rocky is being turned into a Broadway musical, and art is again imitating life. 39 year-old star Andy Karl, a Broadway vet who has jumped from understudy role to supporting role throughout his career on stage, and has finally landed his first opening lead role.

He spoke to The New York Times about taking on the famous role, how his life has paralleled Rocky’s, and what it’s like to get slugged on stage.

Karl admits that the plot of Rocky inspired him to try out for the Broadway role after years of never opening a show as a lead actor. He recalls, “Something came to me. It’s like: ‘You’re either going to sit here and whine about it and let it slip through your fingers, or you’re going to stand up to the challenge. And if you don’t get this role, at least you fought with everything you could to have it.'”

While he learned the script and songs and went through physical training he insisted to himself that it was all worth it. He explains, “I kept telling myself, like a mantra: ‘I’m going to do this. This is going to happen.'” Through it all, Karl identified with the struggle of Rocky as a character. He adds, “His life is all about pain, cleaning up the bruises. I found that out for myself in training for the show. There’s so much pain involved, and you have to reach beyond that pain.”

In particular, one of the challenges of the musical is that during the boxing scenes the blows that Karl receives from his opponents aren’t typical stage punches. He reveals, “There’s ways in which you do this full-contact boxing that are safe but also dramatic. We want the audience to feel engrossed.” Still, he admits, “I’m suffering for my art.”

In fact, during one rehearsal Karl took a rough hit to the head. However, he refused to call it a day and returned to the scene after applying an icepack. The situation fit into Karl’s insistence on remaining tough through the challenges he faces. He explains, “I felt like more of a man. I know how to take a punch. I know what it feels like. I’m not afraid of the gloves coming at me.”

Karl better be prepared for the gloves coming at him when the musical gets seen by more critics and audiences. The first preview performance of Rocky was pushed back to February 13 from February 11, though the show will still open on March 13 as planned.

Leave a Reply

Latest Videos

The Cast of ‘Mad Men’ on the Final Season and More
Though the AMC television series Mad Men might not carry the same cultural weight that it did a few years ago (splitting your final season over two years might do that to you), the second half of the show’s final season is expected to be full of powerful performances from its ensemble cast. With the […]
Watch: Ron Perlman on His Father’s Influence on His Early Career
Ron Perlman is a prolific actor, and he has also lent his distinctive voice to a number of projects in film and television — including the new animated film The Book of Life. One of the reasons that Perlman works so hard is not only because he loves being an actor, but because of what […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/cate-blanchett-asks-graduating-s.jpg
Cate Blanchett Asks Graduating Students a Heavy Question: “What the hell can you do with an arts degree?”
“What the hell can you do with an arts degree?” Many actors ask themselves that when they find themselves struggling to make it in Hollywood while saddled with student loans. It was Cate Blanchett who posed that question recently to graduating students at Macquarie University in Sydney where she received an honorary doctorate degree. The […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/matthew-mcconaughey-rallies-his.jpg
Matthew McConaughey Rallies his Alma Mater Football Team to Victory with the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Chant
Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey delivered a different kind of speech two weeks ago when he spoke with the Texas Longhorns football team after their close 20-17 loss to UCLA. The moment was a bit odd, but hilarious at the same time. Coach Charlie Strong was the one who invited the Dallas Buyers Club star to inspire the […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/watch-anna-gunn-reveals-her-awkw.jpg
Watch: Anna Gunn Reveals Her Awkward ‘Breaking Bad’ Audition Details
Though Breaking Bad was obviously a career highpoint for every actor involved, they all must move on to their next projects (except for the few who are involved in the Breaking Bad spinoff, Better Call Saul). This includes Anna Gunn, who portrayed Walter White’s wife Skyler on the award-winning series series. Gunn’s new series, the […]