Mr. T is famous in the world of Rocky Balboa for portraying Clubber Lang. And like the character who went up against star Sylvester Stallone, the actor was a wrecking machine.
Speaking about playing a part in the successful Rocky III episode of the saga, T [real name Laurence Tureaud] revealed he backed off from showing Stallone his best to land the part of Lang.
Stallone headhunted Tureaud for the part after watching ‘America’s Toughest Bouncer’ on TV. Mr. T was originally only due for a small part but eventually got bumped up to co-star.
Mr. T as Clubber Lang
In the movie, Lang knocked Balboa out early in their first title meeting after goading the champion into a fight. Rocky loses his trainer Mickey during the pre-fight build-up in the arena and is subsequently taken apart as an emotional wreck.
Balboa gained his revenge when teaming up with old foe Apollo Creed to make a trainer and coach team and take back the title.
T recalls that after taking the role, the pair went hell for leather during filming and held nothing back.
“We went one hundred percent, you know. We had the choreography. He [Stallone] said, ‘If you forget to duck, I’m pop you. If I forget to duck, pop me,” T told ES News.
“If you pulled back, it looked phony on the take. So he said, ‘if I pop you, it won’t be personal, and if you pop me, it won’t be personal.
“After we would go over the choreography of the fight, we would go two rounds raw and everything after practice.”
A big fan of the Oscar-winning franchise that began in 1976, Tureaud admits he was in awe being opposite Stallone – a massive star at the time.
However, he also states that his power matches Lang’s in the film. Furthermore, this forced him to keep it lighter until he was cast.
“I said to myself, ‘T, you watched Rocky I and Rocky II, now you are fighting him,” he said.
“There was a couple of scenes we were rehearsing, and he’d say ‘harder, harder!’ – I said, ‘damn, he doesn’t know I’d knock his a** out.
“I said, ‘If I hit him too hard, he might not give me the job. So I gave him enough so he could feel me, you know.
“But it was good. It was really good.”
Sylvester Stallone respect
On his respect for Stallone and all he achieved with the character in four decades, Tureaud added: “I’m not going to go around in real life and say I’m tougher than Rocky.
“I’m secure in myself to give him [Stallone] his respect. He created the show.
“He’d come over and talk to me a lot about how the business is or whatever. He worked hard, and he earned it. So I respect that.”