Like many children of his time, he found a refuge in fantasy, his hero was Superman. He spent the afternoons watching the Man of Steel serial starring George Reeves
One day he put on a cape and jumped from the roof of his house, landing on the ground broke his collarbone. His father gave him advice that he would later include in the script of “Rocky”: “You were born without much brain, so you better start using your body”.
Thus it was that during his adolescence Sylvester (who called himself Mike), began to train with a broom and cement blocks, in addition to always having a dictionary at hand to learn new words. When he was not exercising he recited poems from Walt Whitman to improve your diction.
In the early 1970s, to pay for drama classes, he had to work as an actor in a pornographic film called “The Party at Kitty and Stud’s”. Stallone would testify to the magazine Playboy that financial need forced him to make that decision, since at that time he had only twenty dollars in his bank account.
Rocky, the people’s champion
At age 30 he wrote and starred “Rocky”, a drama about a boxer who traveled from the streets to glory thanks to his ability to resist blows. It was a worldwide event that no one was willing to bet on, but Stallone, like his on-screen alter ego, held out.
In principle, he was practically bankrupt, the story is already known that he had to sell even his dog to eat, a dog that he would later recover in exchange for several thousand dollars.
The inspiration for the role that would change his life was born from a combat between Muhammad Ali Y Chuck Wepner, a boxer who with sheer courage put him in trouble and resisted until the last round facing the best boxer of all time. The victory went to Ali, but for those who saw that fight Wepner was the moral winner, since he showed that a nobody was capable of bringing the best of all to their knees.
Stallone was inspired, and the script was ready in just over twenty hours. Thus was born the story of the famous “Italian stallion”. Now it’s time to sell your story.
After the refusal of several studies, the producers Irwin Winkler Y Robert Chartoff They saw potential in Stallone’s words and offered him $ 125,000 for his story, a not inconsiderable amount given the actor’s precarious financial situation. However, Sylvester wanted to star in the film at all costs and was not willing to give in.
The producers even offered him $ 350,000 for the text, but they did not want to hear about the possibility of considering Stallone as Rocky. They preferred weighty names like those of Robert Redford O Ryan O’Neill, true stars of the time. The actor’s stubbornness gave them no truce and in the end they agreed to give him the lead role in exchange for paying him only $ 35,000 for his story.
This is how Stallone’s first hit arrived, from the hand of Rocky Balboa, the film was a box office and critical success. He garnered 10 Oscar nominations, including two for Sylvester, one for actor and one for screenplay. Neither would win, because things could never be easy for the rising star.
The sequel to “Rocky”, “Rocky II”, written and directed by Stallone, was released in 1979 and became a resounding success, thus giving rise to several continuations of the saga during the 1980s. Rocky Balboa became one of the most iconic characters in cinema from Hollywood.
“I entered Hollywood through the service door,” Stallone explained years later. “When I went to the Oscars my bow broke and people said it was disrespectful. They always thought he was stupid, even though he wrote all the Rocky movies. They insulted me because of the characters I played ”
From action hero to industry outcast
In 1982 he created another myth of contemporary cinema, the former green beret traumatized by the Vietnam War John Rambo, in “Rambo: First Blood” and the then president Ronald Reagan he adopted it as a symbol of the new American empire.
Critics hailed his performance, stating that it had given him a more human appearance than the character originally had in the novel of the same name on which the film was based. During the 1980s, he was followed “Rambo II” Y “Rambo III”, which were huge international hits at the box office.
Apart from the Rocky and Rambo sagas, his highest grossing films include “Cobra” from 1986; “Over the Top” from 1987; “Lock Up” from 1989; “Cliffhanger” from 1993; “The specialist” 1994, co-starring Sharon Stone Y James Woods; “Assassins” from 1995 together with Antonio Banderas Y Julianne Moore.
In this period he tried to venture into comedy, the results were not the best. Stallone was determined to show that he could take on a role other than the stereotypical action hero.
In 1997 he got the title role in “Cop Land”, next to Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta Y Harvey Keitel. He put on roughly twenty kilos to play a mediocre and overweight cop in the State of New Jersey. His performance was well received by critics and considered the best performance he has given since “Rocky” in 1976.
From there there would be a string of sounded critical and box office failures, the industry and the public seemed to turn their backs on him after years of successes.
In 2000 the Razzie (Worst film awards) gave him an honorary award as the worst actor of the century. And in 2002, after the failures of “Get Carter”, “Driven” Y “D-Tox”, your representative agency (CAA, the most powerful in Hollywood) fired him. He was 56 years old.
“An artist dies twice and the second [la muerte física] it is the easiest. Artistic death, the fact that you are no longer relevant is very, very difficult information to assimilate. Those of my generation feel that they still have a lot to give, but no one offers them the opportunity. They are considered obsolete, ”Stallone lamented at the time.
One more round
“Stand up son of a bitch! Because Mickey loves you” is one of the most remembered phrases of “Rocky V”Perhaps the same words echoed in Stallone’s own head. After several years of absence, the actor was willing to fight one more round, and he would not do it alone, it would be hand in hand with his two flagship characters: Rocky and Rambo.
“Rocky Balboa” in 2006 and “John Rambo” in 2008, written and directed by him, they garnered rave reviews and, more importantly, drew people to the movies. Stallone was surprised to discover that the majority of his viewers (an average of 30 years old) belonged to a generation that had grown up watching his films on TV and had an admiration for him that was free from prejudice or elitism.
With this momentum, Stallone decided to take advantage of his renewed popularity to launch a new franchise. And this time he would not play a loser, he would be a leader and he was also going to give work to many actors from his golden age who had been relegated.
With “The Expendables” (2010) and its subsequent sequels, would be accompanied by actors such as: Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas Y Chuck Norris among others. A festival of testosterones that pointed to nostalgia, but which also brought many forgotten action films from the eighties and nineties to the forefront.
The momentum he achieved made him return once again to the role that opened all the doors: Rocky Balboa. This time it would not be him who steps into the ring, it would be a luxury secondary put at the service of a new generation led by Michael B. Jordan in the role of Adonis Creed, son of the beloved Apollo Creed, first rival and then friend of Balboa.
The name tape “Creed” It was a widespread success, audiences and stuntmen saw a brilliant performance from Stallone as the tired hero but always willing to give a little more. For his performance, Stallone won the Golden Globe for the best supporting actor, the ovation was generalized, the industry that had beaten him so many times stood up to applaud the veteran actor.
But how history has gotten him used to it and against all odds I predict the Oscar (where he was also nominated for best supporting actor) would be elusive again. And once again, Stallone was the most glorious loser: “I am used, like Rocky, to be guided by the mentality of not giving up”, were his words after leaving empty-handed.
Sylvester Stallone, the actor who does not give up, reaches 75 years through one of the best moments of his career, is preparing a reversal of “Rocky IV” and also this year it will appear in “The Suicide Squad” and in “Samaritan”. The latter is the story of a boy who discovers that his idol, a superhero who was left for dead 20 years ago, is still alive and has his powers intact. Nothing new for good old Stallone.