Sylvester Stallone, the Actor Who Never Stopped Believing in Himself and His Dream of Making Movies
Nothing predestined Sylvester Stallone for success. Quite the opposite. For the first 20 to 30 years of his life, the actor would run into many obstacles that seemed to remind him he wouldn’t make it to stardom. But he never stopped trying and believing in him. Then, he wrote Rocky, the iconic film that made him famous, and everything changed.
1. Stallone, the screenwriter
Stallone is not only the protagonist of Rocky: he is also its scriptwriter. Writing the script took him just three days; in those three days, he did nothing but write. Although now, on his Instagram, he says: “I’ve directed, produced, acted... but there’s nothing as hard as writing. Looking at the blank paper and knowing you have to fill it with words is an overwhelming challenge, so I salute writers because, without their hard work, there would be no movies. Every actor should try writing a script sometime. It’s great for the mind.”
2. Determined to make it
Once he convinced the producers to invest in his idea for Rocky, he was adamant on one condition: he had to play the lead. The producers intended for Rocky to be played by a well-known actor like Robert Redford, but Stallone managed to keep the role.
3. His traits
One of the distinctive traits of this actor is his grin. This feature stems from a dramatic event: Sylvester’s mother had problems during childbirth, and the obstetrician had to resort to forceps to remove the baby; he made a wrong move with this tool and cut a nerve in Sylvester’s head. At the time, no one could have known that this terrible mistake would, years later, become one of the actor’s most unique traits.
4. An amazing mom
Sylvester grew up in a unique home. His mother, Jackie, had several jobs: she was a trapeze artist, showgirl, astrologer, hairdresser, and also a representative of professional women’s wrestling.
5. His faithful dog
Remember the dog that joined Rocky in his training sessions? He, too, has a story: that dog was Sylvester’s dog in real life. The actor, who was destitute and lived in homeless shelters, could not keep him and sold him for a few dollars to a man he trusted. Weeks after that sad farewell, Stallone signed a contract for Rocky, returned to the man’s house, and bought his dog back for thousands of dollars.
Despite being expelled from 13 schools, Stallone held several jobs. He worked as a lion cage cleaner, a fish cutter, a book salesman, a volleyball coach, and a movie theater bouncer. “I thought: if I do all these horrible jobs at night, I’ll give up the day off to go out and pursue my so-called career. But nothing was happening, so I would do any random job, from bodyguarding to pulling people out of bookstores if they stole,” he revealed on his daughters’ podcast.
Stallone was fired from each job, except for his last gig at a movie theater. He loved that job because he could watch a movie repeatedly and analyze “how it was really broken down, written, constructed, and deconstructed.” He started taking notes and became a pro at understanding what makes a great film.
Before Rocky’s success, Stallone went through many auditions in which he was rejected. The best known was the audition for the role of mobster Paulie Gatto, Don Vito Corleone’s bodyguard, in The Godfather.
“I couldn’t even get a cameo role to play an Italian,” the actor recalls. "I’ll never forget this: it was a party scene, 300 guests! And they told me no. I asked them, ’What part of me didn’t go through an Italian look?"’ By the way, Stallone is a close friend of Al Pacino and recently congratulated him on his birthday with this Instagram photo, noting that they’ve been friends for 40 years.
8. He rejected big roles
But he also dared to turn down very important roles. Director Quentin Tarantino wanted Sylvester for Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, in the role later played by none other than Robert De Niro, and the actor turned them down, just as he also turned down another mega-hit: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s lead in Terminator.
9. A tragedy
In 2012, Sylvester Stallone suffered a family tragedy: the death of his thirty-six-year-old son Sage, who was also an actor. In fact, we saw him in Rocky V alongside his father. The young man died of a heart attack.
10. Loving Sylvester
Today, people in showbiz love Sylvester Stallone. At the 2016 film awards season, where his movie Creed was presented, he received a standing ovation from his colleagues.
11. Sylvester Stallone is the proud father of three beautiful daughters: Sistine, Sophia, and Scarlet.
What is your favorite Sylvester Stallone movie?