Hollywood's Biggest Hitter; as the Latest Instalment of Rambo Hits Cinemas, JANE HAASE Looks at Sylvester Stallone's 50-Year Movie Career

The Birmingham Post (England), September 26, 2019 | Go to article overview

Hollywood's Biggest Hitter; as the Latest Instalment of Rambo Hits Cinemas, JANE HAASE Looks at Sylvester Stallone's 50-Year Movie Career


Byline: JANE HAASE

HE MIGHT be 73 years of age now, but Hollywood legend Sylvester Stallone is still playing the action man on screen. While he is back in cinemas as Vietnam veteran John Rambo in Rambo: Last Blood, his life has more parallels with his other iconic character, Rocky Balboa.

"Every time I've failed, people had me out for the count, but I always come back," the seasoned actor, writer and film-maker once said.

Born Michael Sylvester Enzio Stallone in Hell's Kitchen, New York on July 6, 1946, his signature snarl and slurred speech was caused by a forceps delivery which severed a nerve and paralysed the lower left side of his face.

The young Sly spent the first years of his life in foster care due to the rocky marriage of his parents, Italian hairdresser Francesco Stallone and Jackie Stallone.

He struggled at school and was expelled several times before enrolling in drama school in Miami, Florida.

Stallone appeared in his first movie The Square Root in 1969, but struggled in small parts until success came in 1976 with his story about no-hoper boxer Rocky. He had to fight to star in his self-penned film as studio executives wanted to give the role to the more well-known leading men Robert Redford or Burt Reynolds.

It went on to score 10 Academy Award nominations, winning the Oscar for Best Picture and triggering one of the most financially successful movie franchises in history.

Stallone then turned to the world of wrestling for inspiration to direct his first film, Paradise Alley in 1978, before heading back into the boxing ring the following year to write, star in and direct Rocky II.

Subsequent films Nighthawks (1981) and Escape to Victory (1981) failed to ignite with audiences, so Stallone was once again lured back to familiar territory with Rocky III in 1982.

Stallone Judge The third "Rocky" instalment far outperformed the first sequel in box office takings, but Stallone retired his prizefighter for a couple of years as another mega-franchise was about to commence for the busy actor - Rambo, with First Blood, also in 1982.

It's hard to imagine anyone else playing former Green Beret John Rambo and snarling, "Don't push me", but Stallone didn't want to play the role. It took a decade to come to screen and, during that time, Steve McQueen, Clint as Dredd Eastwood, Paul Newman, Robert De Niro and John Travolta all signed up and then dropped out. …

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