I've been very lucky in my life to
have met many of my favorite actors. I've always been a big fan of
Sylvester Stallone. Whether I was watching ROCKY or RAMBO,
or some of his other big action pieces like CLIFFHANGER or
DEMOLITION MAN, I just had fun watching him play the hero. Sly in
many ways is an American icon. Needless to say I was pretty stoked about
having the chance to sit down with him to discuss ROCKY BALBOA, the
final film in the popular series. The first ROCKY movie was
released in 1976, and received two Academy Award nominations. It has
since become one of the most beloved movies of all time, and with good reason.
Now 30 years later, Stallone is returning to the ring for one last fight.
His new film has met with both enthusiasm and criticism, and much concern over
his current age. We talked about that and much more during the
interview. I found Sly to be a humble and very honest man, who sincerely
hopes people will enjoy this new film. Here are some of the things he
had to say:
MARK: How ya doing?
Yeah, we're on the last leg, and then I go back and do The Tonight Show
tomorrow. It's been a very nice week. It's nice to go out and
promote something you enjoy, and not have to lie for seven hours a day, like
we usually have to do... and we're not fooling anybody.
MARK: This is pretty
cyclical, thirty years later.
Yeah, in a film sense I guess it's like a minor miracle.
Or like a major miracle, to be able to have the opportunity to bookend it.
Because I really wasn't satisfied, I feel I let a lot of people down with
ROCKY V, I really did. I've gone through a lot of ups and downs
myself. To just put all of this into a film, maybe that's what made the
first one work. Because it didn't deal with boxing, you know, it dealt
with the issues of him just coping with life. And then the metaphor at
the end is the boxing.
MARK: Well it's not
often you see a series of films... like you say, sometimes as films go on, and
they make sequels, they get... not as good as the first one. But this is
like a rare opportunity to say "We're going to fix that. We're going to
make it the way we want to make it, and end it the right way."
And do you think it worked?
MARK: I think it was
Well, I think that only happens because of a lot of time passed, different
marriages, had kids, had problems with kids. And then, you know, you
start to get a little weight. And you say "What is important now?"
And one thing I realized, the older I get, the more difficult life becomes.
It's not easier, it's more difficult. I thought "Oh no man, all the
problems... we put in our dues, forget it!" No one told me. This
part hurts, that thing hurts, a son is like yelling at you, it's like "God!"
How do you cope with that last third of your life. So Rocky says, "I
just want to replace old pain with new pain." It's always pain, you're
never free of it.
MARK: I really like the
fact that Rocky is not motivated by money, and in this movie you've got this
great idea that he's got this restaurant named after Adrian. Where did
that idea come from, did you visit any restaurants that maybe kind of sparked
that idea for you on the story?
I did visit Jack Dempsey's restaurant when I was 12 years old, and he had that
mural of him fighting Jess Willard. And he would sit behind the cash
register and tell stories. So here I go, 48 years later, I go "Hmm...
Jack Dempsey's restaurant." But it was called Rocky's. I was like
"No, Rocky's, no." And the I was arguing with the production designer,
and he was like "Don't call it Adrian's." And I was like "Yeah man,
Adrian's." Rocky wouldn't have a restaurant with Opera... but she would.
MARK: Well when you
think about it, you know, even though Adrian is not in the movie, she's very
much a part of the movie because of the way you wrote it in there. I
think that's brilliant.
Thank you. Thank you very much. Yeah, I have to show it to her
MARK: Was Talia (Shire)
A little bit. (laughter) I told her "Here's the good news, I think
I figured out the story. I think it works, it really works. Bad
news is... we start off at your gravesite." Actually she was really
great, she's very supportive, once she understood. She comes from a very
film-literate family. So she gets it. She understood.
MARK: Well it seems
like the people in the movie... they don't get it. It's like Rocky is
not not doing this for the publicity, he's not doing it for the money, he's
doing it for himself. And then everyone starts calling him a joke.
And so it really kind of creates that emotional impact of "Man I gotta do
this, because I've just got to prove to everybody" that you know, it's like
you said, there is stuff left in the basement.
Some people have to purge themselves physically. You know, you say "Why
do they run through the desert for 110 miles, it's insane." They come
through, they're dying, their skin is boiling. There's something much
more deep working there. They need that. Rocky doesn't go to a
therapist, he doesn't paint, he doesn't write. How does he get that?
This is how he expresses himself. And really feeling... I don't know
whether it's guilt or whatever, but that's what I was trying to convey in the
beast. There's a beast, and he's just got to beat it out of him.
MARK: I think you
really handled the age thing very gracefully in this film.
MARK: Now considering
this is you getting in the ring 30 years after the first time you got in the
ring, is it a lot harder taking those hits every now and then?
Yeah, a lot harder.
MARK: Shut down the
Can't get outta the way! Wait until you see, when you see the outtakes
you'll actually see Antonio (Tarver) coming up and hooking me, blasting me,
and then he starts laughing in hysterics. Then he said "What are you
crazy?!" And I said "Look, I just couldn't get out of the way, I didn't
want to get hit." Just slow. You see it coming, you go "Move
head... head, move... move."
Stallone talks about filming
the impressive climactic fight
We were following the Hopkins/Taylor fight, World Championship Middle-weight
fight, HBO, and Oscar De La Hoya presented it, so right before they had their
fight we'd come in and use those 10,000 people, so those are real. We
get into the ring and that's the real ref. And we'd tell people after
the Hopkins fight "If you want to stick around and watch Rocky get decimated
by Mason Dixon" and they'd go "Yeah!" And the weigh-in was a real
weigh-in. We just dropped the banners, but that's exactly the real way.
Those were all real press in the front row... those are the guys. So we
tried to just literally find the fight, get there a day behind and just follow
them, and just use their venues. So we were not creating anything new.
It was just literally stepping in, put the cameras in the same spot, and let's
try to blur reality here.
MARK: So was there an
added level of pressure, having that many people watching you film?
You take your robe off, you're like "Oh man."
MARK: "Man I hope I
Wonder if I didn't have too much salt that day.
MARK: But it sure did
seem like they were into it.
It was amazing. They had people stay, stay, for hours... that was a
Yeah, those were people, a lot of them had seen all the ROCKYs and they
were gonna be... it was unbelievable.
Stallone talks about the
effect of that classically inspirational theme
It makes the hair on the back of my neck go up. I was there during the
re-recording of that. The first time Bill (Conti) had 13 instruments or
14, and he maybe had twelve hours to do the whole score... there was no money,
he had to do the whole score in one day. This time we had like 100
pieces, and like me there with 100 people it was just "Whew!" Just blows
your hair off... unbelievable. And I have to give him all the credit in
the world. I think ROCKY, probably... it may have worked, but I'm not
sure, without his music, I'm not sure if it would've worked nearly. That
contemporary "Bum bum wha", you know that 70's, "boom boom, boom boom boo
boo"... I don't know.
MARK: I think sometime
people underestimate the power of a score.
Oh man, that, it's one of the... I'd say "How do you do this Bill?" Very
rarely is there a score that's just... it's not too far, then again it's
noble. It's his score, he did it perfect.
Has he seen any advance
reaction from screening crowds?
I only had one screening, and the first screening was much longer, and has a
different ending. That was in Sam's Town one time in Vegas. That
was it. The rest was like a "friends and family" screening, which was
like, everybody was...
MARK: "That's nice
Yeah it was "That was a good film."
MARK: There's been a
lot of rumors, maybe you could dispel them right now, as to maybe there would
be another ROCKY movie after this.
MARK: Do you feel like
you've said everything you want to say?
Oh yeah, this to me, this is the best thing that could be associated with
Rocky, I can't do any better.
No, I don't think so... and I know so.
MARK: Seems like the
perfect way to cap it.
What more could you do? No, this is it.
How about RAMBO 4?
Okay, well, I've written the script for it, and it's supposed to go sometime
next year or there might be a film in front of it, I'm not sure. The
main thing is, like this story, finding something that is more than just
violence and random acts. There's some interesting stories about Burma,
on the border, it's like Vietnam or worse... actually it's worse, because it's
been going on for like 65 years. I think there's some way we can like
assert fiction into reality. Use that format but also be respectful of
what's going on over there, and not just use that. Anyway, it deals with
these Christian organizations that are always going in there to bring medicine
at great personal harm, because the small Christian area... it's just mayhem,
it really is. And I thought what if they were just taken hostage back
across the border. Now you can tell a story about what's going on in
there, and also have an interesting action line. But I'd much more...
I'd be happier if it was set somewhere like... Orlando. (laughter)
Amusement park, stuck on a ferris wheel for two hours, that's my idea.
It's tough, Rambo is tough, really tough, really hard. That's where it
is right now. I've written it, and it works, but I'm not so sure if you
really want to play that close to actual politics, because I got burnt on the
one before. On RAMBO III, not that it was a wonderful film, but
it was at Afghanistan, and that was Russia's Vietnam. And sure enough,
three weeks or two weeks before the movie, Gorbechev comes over, kisses Nancy
Reagan on the cheek, the cold war is over, and now I'm the bad guy.
I tell ya, I walked into rooms, and the press was like "Booooooo." In
Australia they're booing me. I was like "Three weeks ago you hated them,
now I'm the bad guy." So you gotta be careful.
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