Geraldine Hughes

Marie in 'Rocky Balboa'

One of the more daring plot points in “Rocky Balboa” is that Adrian dies offscreen. Filling her place is Marie, a neighborhood girl who Rocky tended to in the first installment.

Great tape: “The casting director, Sheila Jaffe, saw my one-woman show (“Belfast Blues”). I was moving to New York from Los Angeles and packing boxes when she asked me if I wanted to audition for a part. I then received 13 faxed pages for the next ‘Rocky.’ I thought this isn’t a scene — it’s an actual part. I read the scene where Rocky meets Marie at the bar. Sheila taped it and Sylvester cast me off that footage.”

Adrian’s spirit: “Adrian’s death is the ultimate heartache for Rocky … the entire film is a tribute to her: from the name of Rocky’s restaurant to his visits to her gravesite. Her presence is always there in the film up until the end. … I was nervous to explore ‘Rocky’ without Adrian. … Rocky and Marie are two people in the same position, who have kids, are from the neighborhood and are searching for someone.”

Sly’s ways: “Basically, I would follow (Stallone’s) lead and see where he was going. … He would write and rewrite my character along the way and even asked for my suggestions. I couldn’t believe it. It was a completely collaborative process.”