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The Underdog

Sylvester Stallone returns to the big screen in The Expendables, where the action hero fights against all odds to overcome the bad guys.
Marshall Fine
From the Print Edition:
Sylvester Stallone, July/August 2010

(continued from page 4)

And then there was Stallone's own bout with Austin. As they rehearsed it, Austin recalls, Stallone kept urging Austin to hit him harder.

"He kept telling me to turn it up," Austin says. "He's always about intensity and focus. Still, when you roll with Sly, you don't want to be the one who gives the boss a black eye."

Stallone, having just watched Austin hit him again on the DVD, turns the TV off and shrugs.

"Me doing those scenes helps the other guys in the movie," he says. "They want to top me so they push even harder. I know I shouldn't be doing this stuff at my age. I guess I'd love for my kids to say that it's amazing, at 63, that I'm still able to do it. But it comes with a really serious price.

"I couldn't do this again. This is it, there's nothing left. I have had four operations since the film. The doctor says that if I hurt my neck again, that's it-paralysis or worse. I don't want to hear that but it's a fact. I guess I've got to get some look-alikes, but I don't like doing that. What made all the Rockys special is that, in 32 years, I never used a double."

He leans back in his chair and considers his situation, then puffs his OpusX. These days, it's his favorite brand: "I like a stronger cigar than I used to," he says. "The only time I don't smoke them is when I play golf. They make me a little dizzy-and I have a hard enough time hitting the ball anyway.

"I like a rich cigar. I like to let the smoke settle in my mouth, like brandy. Before, I was into cigars as a status thing-now I like to savor them."

A one-time cigarette smoker ("Hey, doctors used to endorse them on TV like they were children's cereal"), Stallone began smoking cigars while playing a rising labor-union figure in 1978's F.I.S.T.: "I was always looking for a replacement for cigarettes. At one point, I went on to a pipe-but that didn't look right on me. But cigars-there's like a tribal effect when you smoke them, a kinship almost.

"It's like a secret code. Oh, you smoke cigars? You're OK, then. Smoking cigars is like being an unregistered member in a world-wide club."

The walls of his office are a mix of decorations: photos of wife Jennifer Flavin and their three daughters, memorabilia from his various films (including a display case full of Rocky and Rambo action figures), small but solid-looking pieces of sculpture and several paintings-some with full frames, some only half-framed-which, Stallone allows, he painted himself.

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Comments   1 comment(s)

stantine972 October 9, 2010 9:01pm ET

Mr Stallone, I have enjoyed you through your whole career and still look forward to your next project. Thank you. Keep the movies coming and thanks for actually smoking a cigar for the cover of "Cigar Aficionado" magazine. Cigar Aficionado, thank you for interviewing a cigar smoker.

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