Talia Shire's Entire Rocky Wardrobe Came From A Goodwill Store

I know they are favorites for a lot of people, but I struggle with the "Rocky" sequels and even the "Creed" movies to a certain extent. They became high-gloss Hollywood productions, which is fine, but they get so far away from what made the original Best Picture-winning film such a special movie. For me, what sets "Rocky" apart from so many of its imitators and successors is its immense sense of authenticity to the lives of ordinary, working-class people, and where I feel this most acutely is with the character of Adrian, played by Talia Shire.

In theory, Shire could not be more Hollywood. Her brother is this little filmmaker you may have heard of named Francis Ford Coppola, who made some movies people like, but nothing about the way she carries herself indicates that stature in the slightest. She is a proper character actor and a damn good one at that. Playing the role of Adrian with a captivating, grounded, and offbeat energy, for which she was rightly nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, you could believe that Sylvester Stallone and director John G. Avildsen just happened upon this woman on the streets of Philadelphia.

Not only is her performance outstanding in creating this woman who feels utterly real, her costuming does so much work as well. This isn't a case of a glamorous movie star cosplaying as frumpy, where the second she takes off her glasses she becomes Aphrodite. This is a case of visually constructing a character in a way she would actually present herself to the world, affordably and somewhat anonymously. The best way for Shire to achieve this look was to head to where this woman would obviously shop: Goodwill.

Costume supervisor Talia Shire

Costume supervisor Joanne Hutchinson created plenty of memorable looks in "Rocky." You have the grey sweatsuit he wears in his famous training montage, that black leather jacket and fedora casual look, and Apollo Creed's American flagboxing trunks. The wardrobe for Adrian, however, wasn't a Hutchinson creation. That all came from Talia Shire herself, who, at the behest of her director, went scouring discount stores to find the exact right look for the character she had been developing. Speaking at the TCM Classic Film Festival back in 2016 for the film's 40th anniversary, Shire recalled taking ownership of Adrian's wardrobe:

"[John Avildsen] created a tremendous sense of ensemble, and we had rehearsals, and he said, you know, to me, 'I'd like you to give some thought about what she might wear, and you need to go out to some Goodwill stores.' That's where he sent me to get my costumes, and indeed I did. And then I came in with the hat, and I went to my eye doctor he gave me these interesting glasses. And I walked in dressed this way. John Avildsen said, 'Oh that's wonderful!" And he let me keep those clothes by the way, and I still have them 40 years later."

So many costumes in movies feel like the first time these clothes have ever been worn. They're too pristine, too pressed, too neat. Adrian's clothing in "Rocky" all feels worn and lived in, and that's because they are and have been passed from one person to another. It's how normal people dress. They aren't perfectly tailored, and the colors don't perfectly match. Yet there is an unquestionable appeal and consistency to her appearance. It turns out in another life that Talia Shire could've made a great costume supervisor.