So what does it take? What does it take to achieve "iconic" status in the pop culture cinema-world? The silver screen has been supplying us with a steady stream of amazing characters since the beginning of movie-dom...these characters help take us away to a land of imagination through their perfected craft and only certain players achieve a status of excellence and are remembered by their uncanny ability to "become" the role that they are taking on. It is this status that helps them achieve said status...that of an iconic level and they will forever be remembered for this achievement...That is truly how actors and actresses surpass the test of time. Not just being in an amazing movie but delivering a performance that stands above what was originally expected of them. Then you move on to the notion of "film series"...If a character is portrayed throughout the course of a film series it is even harder to maintain the "iconic" status. Many have fallen into this category but few have withheld this status over the course of an entire series. One such example of achieved greatness would be Burt Young's portrayal of Paulie Pennino in the ROCKY film series. Maybe it has a little to do with Burt coming from a "boxing" background, maybe that little facet of life experience really helped solidify his role in a boxing movie. Or maybe some actors just "have it". Paulie's character possessed such real-life quality...one that the viewer can easily relate too and it was always very easy to slip on Paulie's shoes and imagine yourself in that role. He had a way of delivering his performance that will never be matched...that is truly why Burt Young has achieved "iconic" status! So let's take a look at what made "Burly Burt" such a moving force in this film series!
Paulie Pennino is Rocky's brother in law and best friend (Adrian's older brother). We are familiar with Paulie's "type" of character. He is an alcoholic who is very driven by his emotions and we see this as a recurring theme throughout the series. He cares about his friends and family with everything he has...and will stick up for them at all costs if they are being insulted, demeaned or flat out disrespected! These character traits are part of what make Paulie such a relatable character and it is very easy to place yourself in his role. These are qualities that must be mastered in order for a portrayal to achieve "iconic"...He is known for his catchphrase "I don't sweat you" in response to a fight. Paulie, while a loyal friend to Rocky, causes the premature birth of Balboa's son by shouting at his wife during her pregnancy, creates the brawls that draws Rocky into a street fight against Tommy Gunn, and establishes a quasi-marital relationship with Sico - a robot given to Paulie by Rocky as a birthday present in Rocky IV. Again, all of these situations are born from pure emotion, rock solid feelings that may have bubbled over but stem from the core of "feelings". Let's break down his roles in the different installments and, as we do so, acknowledge the parallels!