|Friday, October 6, 1989|
|Peter McNeeley - student and boxer - may soon be pursuing a career in the movies   (Photo by Kevin J. Fachetti/The Enterprise)|
FIGHTING FOR A DREAM ROLE
BSC student may play Stallone protege in 'Rocky V'
By Jim Fenton
BROCKTON - The next installment in the series of "Rocky" boxing movies just may feature a Bridgewater State College student in a leading role.
Peter McNeeley, a BSC junior and amateur fighter who trains at the Petronelli Brothers Gym, is awaiting word on whether he'll get a major part opposite Sylvester Stallone in "Rocky V" after filming two screen tests in New York last Friday.
With no previous acting experience, McNeeley is right on target when he says this potential opportunity of a lifetime came "right out of the blue."
The story line for "Rocky V" calls for Stallone to play a fight trainer who's looking for a potential world champion he can also have a father-son relationship with - like the one he wanted to have with his own trainer, Mickey, played by Burgess Meredith.
The young fighter in the upcoming movie, Danny Durrock, is a product of a foster home who winds up in jail. Upon his release he looks to get together with Rocky Balboa to fulfill his dream of being a champ.
Stallone, who used to visit the training camps of Marvelous Marvin Hagler and got to know Hagler's handlers, Goody and Pat Petronelli, had his California-based company, Caro Jones Casting, contact the Petronellis to see if they had any fighters who might fill the role.
The casting directors are looking for either a Caucasian or Latino fighter around the age of 21 who is in the six-foot, 200-pound range. This is a Hollywood production, so good looks are an obvious, if unstated, requirement. McNeeley, a Medfield resident whose family has a history in boxing, meets all qualifications.
He flew to New York last Friday for a morning filming at the MGM Studio. He was then asked to stay for the afternoon and a second screen test in front of John G. Avildsen, who directed the original "Rocky" movie in 1976. Now McNeeley is waiting with three other screen-tested finalists, to see if he gets the part of Danny Durrock. The decision should come down before Nov. 1.
"I thought it went well, really well," said McNeeley of his audition. "They didn't want to say how I did, so I'm just waiting. I heard from a few people that there are three other guys from the West Coast who are also still in contention. So I figure, I've got a 25 percent chance of getting it.
"This has all been a surprise to me, a big, big surprise. But I like it. It's a great opportunity for me if I get it, and I'll take it if it's offered.
"It's happened pretty quickly. I came into the gym one night last month and Goody showed me the letter. Then they called me here two weeks ago and when I talked with them on the phone, that's when I knew they were serious."
Before going to New York, McNeeley was sent a script of "Rocky V" and during his screen test acted out two scenes.
"They were both very short scenes," said McNeeley. "One was where I had to be humble and sincere and in the other one I had to be arrogant. I thought I did well and I think I have a good chance at this."
McNeeley, a political science major at BSC, is the son of Tom McNeeley, who was a heavyweight contender and lost a world championship fight to Floyd Patterson in Toronto on Dec. 4, 1961. The younger McNeeley owns a 10-2 record with six knockouts as an amateur and is next scheduled to fight Saturday afternoon on a benefit card at Lowell Auditorium.
He got started in boxing after his freshman year at BSC, partly because of his father's past involvement with the sport and partly "to lose weight," said McNeeley. "There's no tougher workout!
"My father was in boxing and I enjoy it," he said. "Then I lost my first fight and I got hungry. It was in Medford and it was the main bout on NESN. I didn't belong there then, but losing made me determined."
McNeeley isn't quite sure what he'd like to do in the future as far as boxing goes, but for now he'd like to "win a New England Golden Gloves championship and go to the nationals. That's my goal right now - that, and to finish school.
"Assuming I do well in the Golden Gloves and as an amateur, I'd like to turn pro. After that I'm not really sure yet. I don't know if I want to make a career out of it or anything."
Should he get the call to be in "Rocky V," McNeeley says there'll be no hesitation.
"It'd let me pay off my bills," said McNeeley. "Obviously, it would be great for me."
"I'm sure everybody fantasizes about acting one day and I did, but not to the level where I might have a chance to prove myself. This just came out of the blue for me.
"If I get out there and get the chance, I want to just act to the best of my ability."
This story was published on Page 1 of the Brockton Enterprise on 10/06/89.