Imagine how life would have been for a dead broke actor who positively rejected the idea of selling his power script, and wrote his own destiny to become a well known figure of all time. Steadily, ‘Rocky Balboa’ fixated us to his version of the American dream and filled our hearts with hope, belief and ambition. He broke the existing boilerplate about the modish version of Hollywood, instead, gave it an unfashioned, raw slant which many would have turned down then.
On the likes of Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, ‘Balboa’ existed to be the greatest bull artist of all time! In the lines below, read about how Sylvester Stallone ignited the ‘Rocky’ in him to become a great actor and what followed years later as his charm faded away.
Early Life Without Any Money
Born in a lower middle class family, Stallone spent his early years in Manhattan and had a difficult childhood due to being partially paralyzed from the time of his birth. At times he couldn’t explain at first the reason behind his slurred speech and often faced rejection as a child. It was when he moved to Philadelphia and gained some university education, he started accepting the challenges both (physical and financial) all by his own.
At one point in his early days as an adult, when he was left with no money and a shelter, he starred in a soft core pornography feature film titled ‘The Party at Kitty and Stud’s’ and earned his first 200 dollars. But, that is not all about him. He knew he had to do more with his life and tried ways to explore it through whatever available sources he had. Then ‘Hollywood’ happened to him!
Small Beginnings In Hollywood
Right from his acceptance to go for uncredited roles in films like Pigeons (1970) as a party guest, Woody Allen’s ‘Bananas’ (1971) as a subway thug, in psychological thriller ‘Klute’ (1971) as an extra dancing in a club, and in the Jack Lemmon film ‘The Prisoner of Second Avenue’ (1975) as a youth, and later doing supporting roles in ‘Farewell’, ‘My Lovely’, ‘Capone’ and ‘Death Race 2000’, Stallone tried his hands onto every small film which could keep up his survival. By then he hardly knew that something big was waiting for him in the days that followed. A self written script about a boxer changed Stallone’s fate forever.
The Script And Its Fate
On March 24, 1975, Stallone witnessed the Muhammad Ali–Chuck Wepner fight. He later sat down for 20 long hours to write a script. After finishing the script, the challenge was to find someone who could make it into a film and take Stallone in the lead. After getting rejected by many studios, it was Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff who became interested in the script and offered Stallone US$350,000 for the rights. The actor rejected the offer and instead showed interest to be casted as the lead in the film. Post much negotiation; the producers agreed to his terms, ‘Rocky’ was born!
The Academy Awards 1977
The film instantly became a huge hit and connected to masses. “If ever a recent offbeat film project had some high-horsepower sponsorship, it’s ‘Rocky’” wrote Variety about the film. The movie received both critical acclaim and a good viewership which further paved way for ten Academy nominations. The 49th Academy Awards (1977) was a memorable year for Stallone and his film, ‘Rocky’ defeated the highly lauded ‘All The President’s Men’ and took away the Oscar for Best Film, Best Director and Best Editing.
Glorious Years In Hollywood
The success of ‘Rocky’ was mammoth and made Stallone a star to be chased. Renowned producers wanted to work with him for his avant-garde performance. However, Sylvester thought unorthodoxly and gave his first directorial debut the very next year after ‘Rocky’ was released. He went on to direct the 1978 film ‘Paradise Alley’ and later starred in ‘F.I.S.T’. In 1979 he wrote, directed and starred in ‘Rocky II’ which grossed over 200 million dollars worldwide.
When people just couldn’t get enough of his mysterious and stony image, he launched a major franchise and termed it as ‘Rambo’. After ‘First Blood’ (1982), three ‘Rambo’ sequels, ‘Rambo: First Blood Part II’ (1985), ‘Rambo III’ (1988) and ‘Rambo’ (2008), followed. Stallone’s box office success was keeping his fans happy and contented with his skills and filmography and sooner he wrote, directed, and starred in two more sequels to the series: ‘Rocky III’ (1982) and ‘Rocky IV’ (1985). These two characters of ‘Rocky’ and ‘Rambo’ have been portrayed by Stallone in a total of 11 films.
Heavy Duty Workout And Preparation For Films
With each film, Stallone kept a robust yet different physical appearance. His exuberant training regimen often comprised of heavy duty exercises and that too for six days a week. For ‘Rocky III’, Stallone claims to have reduced his body fat percentage to as low as 2.8%. Before the shoot of ‘Rocky IV’ and ‘Rambo II’, Stallone received tough training from former Mr. Olympia, Franco Columbu.
Though most of the ‘Rambo’, ‘Rocky’ films received overall positive reviews and made Stallone a star forever, he also chose to do some offbeat roles, not suiting his personality and therefore couldn’t make him appear other than the man with a basso profundo voice. People still wanted to see more of the fighter in him and just couldn’t accept the fact that he could be someone else than the one fighting inside the ring.
Films like ‘Rhinestone’, ‘Over The Top’, ‘Angels With Dirty Faces’ and ‘Cobra’ failed at the box office and ultimately Stallone decided to rejuvenate the ‘Rocky’ franchise. ‘Rocky V’ got released, however, Stallone’s career in Hollywood started sinking, due to many flop films over a short period of time.
2006–2008: Revisiting Rocky And Rambo
Who could believe that Stallone still had something to do with the ‘Rocky’ series? In 2006, he made a comeback with ‘Rocky Balboa’ which was both a commercial and critical hit. Till date, people admire him for his power packed performance in the film and for the memorable monologue during a scene where Balboa indulges into a prompt conversation with his son, leaving the viewers teary eyed and motivated at the same time.
In 2015, Stallone reprised his role as ‘Rocky Balboa’ in a spin-off-sequel film, ‘Creed’ which earned him his first Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and also his third Academy Award nomination. Other than his Hollywood roles, he also appeared in a cameo in Bollywood movie ‘Kambakkht Ishq’.
Not many of his fans know that Stallone has also been an integral part of boxing promotion and his company ‘Tiger Eye Productions’, signed world champion boxers Sean O’Grady and Aaron Pryor. Due to extremely physically demanding roles Stallone also suffered some major injuries including a broken finger, injured neck which had to be supported through a metal plate and an injured eye.
Stallone once said, “If you lead with your heart, lead with your heart, and it will carry you much further than your brains will.” Maybe, that has made him what he is today. An actor who believes his films are his life and so he does every single thing to make his films a great piece of art. From rags to riches, Stallone wrote his own life story and is an inspiration to millions of people throughout the world. There is never going to be another one like him!