Last Saturday night saw us unleashing the eye of the tiger and heading to central London for ‘an evening with Sylvester Stallone’ at the palladium theatre.
Having grown up with Sylvester Stallone in my life more than my own father I was more than excited to be invited to the event.
The fact that I was to be in the same room as my childhood hero was enough to make any grown man yell ‘adriannnnn’ with joy.
This is the man that taught me that anyone can be whoever they want to be no matter how much of an underdog they are, even if you are a trained mercenary it doesn’t mean you have to use your skills unless absolutely necessary. But most of all he taught us all how to survive if you were cryogenically frozen and defrosted years into the future (that last lesson may come in handy one day)
The sheer back catalogue of Stallone is inspiring. The fact that he came from humble beginnings and by locking himself in his apartment he was able to write the Rocky script that would later cement his status in Hollywood is a fantastic achievement in itself.
We took our seats with anticipation waiting for the event to begin, The compare for the evening was Jonathan Ross, who as we all know is a massive film fan and cigar smoker!
The show began with a montage video (of course) showcasing some of Rocky’s finest moments along with some of his best quotes – Yep even Tango & Cash was included!
Stallone entered the stage with a loud cheers and standing ovation similar to his victory in Rocky 3 when he defeated Clubber Lang.
As we all took our seat we were treated to over an hour of hearing tales from the man himself on how he got started, what films he loved and stories of stars he worked with.
As I tried to write down everything he said I soon realised it was hard to look at a pad while your idol is sitting right in front of you.
Here’s what Stallone had to say on some his films.
Stallone on Inspiration
Jonathan Ross kicked off the interview with asking Stallone about his influences and what made him want to be an actor.
Sly responded explain that seeing Kirk Douglas as Spartacus was his inspiration. While others were admiring Brando and James Dean, Sly was mesmerised byt Douglas and his performances.
This led to a love of watching action movies and the career path he chose.
Stallone on Rocky
Sylvester Stallone came from humble beginnings and after landing a part for paying $10,000 he knew he was destined to be an actor.
He opened up about how he was struggling to pay the bills and had to sell his dog due to not being able to feed him.
“I was watching Mean Streets and Marty and all these different characters that I knew I could play. Then one night I saw a fight on TV with this guy Chuck Wepner against Muhammad Ali. He was being depicted as a bum. He knocked Ali down in the 14th, 15th round. I saw that and went, there’s my story”
After finishing an audition, he randomly mentioned to the person casting “I do a lil bit of writing” to his surprise the casting agent asked if he could bring some stuff for him to look at.
Stallone recalls he ran home quicker than the wind to pick up a script he had been working on called ‘Rocky’ and after giving it to the casting company, he received his first offer for the script with 1 requirement – Stallone was not to star in it.
Sly refused and as the offers went up, so did the bills coming in.
He recalled “In everyone’s life there’s going to be about 3 or 4 crossroads and that’s going to determine your course. I knew if we took the money I could have been very happy, no question. But I would’ve hated myself. They said we don’t want you, we’ll take you but they had about five clauses in there so they could fire me in the first week.”
After holding our Stallone was able to negotiate his way into playing the part, which came with about a million clauses, Stallone explained.
He couldn’t get drunk, he couldn’t turn up late – essentially they were building a case so they could sack him, however when they yelled action Stallone told us their reactions changed from being hesitant to “he’s actually OK, this might work” and the rest was history.
Next followed the sequel and the problems that occurred with the director quitting, forcing Stallone to now step into the director’s chair. Stallone remembers he didn’t know anything about directing so had to learn as he went and as fate would have it, it led to another string to Stallone’s bow that people wouldn’t think of.
Stallone was asked to rate his Rocky films in order of preference and he explained “Number 1, then number 6” which makes sense as if you watch number 6 you will see a more grittier return to the style of film the original Rocky was.
Stallone on Rambo
Rambo was a completely different book from what we see on the screen. We were told the Rambo character in the book was much more violent and had no regard for anyone.
We found out that originally Kirk Douglas (Stallone’s idol was due to play the Colonel but it didn’t work out as Kirk wanted to kill Rambo in the film.
Stallone recalled when Douglass wanted to change the ending to have him kill Rambo and drive off into the sunset revealing to the viewers that he’s wearing the headband – #Random
Once again when asked to rate his Rambo films in order he chose number 1 and then number 4.
Stallone on Staying Alive
As many wouldn’t know Stallone wrote and directed Staying Alive, and after many directors tried to make the script work, first thing he did when he he took it on was throw the script into the pool and start again.
Sly told us that at the time Travolta was having weight problems so he put him on a strict diet to get him to what we see on the front cover.
Apparently Travolta lost 80 lbs for the role – Try the Stallone diet we say!
Stallone on writing
Following Staying Alive, Sly opened up about writing and explained that ‘it’s like maths with words and the equations need to add up’. ‘It’s a discipline’ he told the audience.
He also opened up about how writing a sequel was one of the hardest things in writing as there is no element of surprise.
Sly went on to offer advice on how he perfected his writing craft. He said he would watch a film over 60 times and record the audio of a certain scene (pretty sure that’s illegal)
He would then go home and transcribe the scene into a script and re-write the scene – just as an exercise, and it helped him develop his writing skills.
He talked more in detail about his style of action in which he always has to play the under god who strives through adversity to become the champion.
He joked that he always had to get his ‘ass kicked’ before coming back. Not mentioning any names but there were other actors who would just beat everyone up and never get hit and that wasn’t his style. His was more believable and that is why we all love and adore Stallone, he makes us feel like we could be Rocky or Rambo. He shows that we all have greatness in us, we just need to get our ass’s kicked to find it!
Stallone on Copland
Moving on to Copland, Sly talked how he put up his salary for the film because he wanted to show he was more than just a action star and craft his dramatic acting.
Stallone on 80s – 90s Rivalry
Stallone opened up about how during the 80s and 90s there was a big rivalry with other stars, mainly Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It was all friendly he explained, “We all pushed each other to keep going” Sly told us.
Stallone on The Expendables
The inspiration for The Expendables came to Sly when he was reading about a music revival. When 5 or 6 acts come together to perform on 1 stage. He says the reason it worked so well was because if one act tanked, at least the other 5 could keep it going.
When asked who was the least expendable…Expendable, Stallone chose South London born Jason Statham.
They have stricken up a great friendship since making the films.
Stallone on Edgar Allan Poe
One of Stallone’s pet projects is a film based on the life of Edgar Allen Poe and when asked if it was ever going to happen, Stallone was unsure as he feels audiences wouldn’t want it.
He explained that studios have such high expectations at the box office and for a film like that he wouldn’t get sign off on the kind of budget he wants, so it’s a catch 22 he says
You want to make a film, but you don’t want to make it on limited budget because it won’t come out how you want it to.
Stallone on TV
He joked “I’ve love to take over The Sopranos” – So would we? Imagine Stallone as the head of the New Jersey family?
As the interview came to the end he was asked who his Rocky was?
“Steve Reeves and Kirk Douglas” Stallone answered.
He was also asked about some of the roles that he turned down and later regretted and he rattled off a few:
– Coming home – went to Jon Voight
– Witness – Went to Harrison Fiord
– Romancing the Stone – Michael Douglas (Not de Vitto’s role)
The interview culminated in a Q&A with the audience which was a frenzy. There were some inspiring questions, some crazy questions, and even some random questions that were not even questions, but one thing the Q&A did show was how much Stallone had touched the lives of the public and like his on screen character Rocky, Stallone was a man of the people.
We did want to ask him what his favourite cigar was, but the line was longer than a post office on a Monday morning.
Stallone ending the night with a fun fact, he wrote every word of Rocky 3.. even “I pity da pool”
Sylvester Stallone was inducted into the Palladium’s hall of fame that night and after jetted off to Luton Airport to fly back to LA.
The evening was a success and one of the most inspiring evenings of my life. I went home that evening, opened my ideas book and began to write a script…. Coming soon!