After years of muscling his way across the screen, Sylvester Stallone seeks a different label: serious actor.
From the Print Edition:
Sylvester Stallone, Mar/Apr 98
(continued from page 7)
Stallone: I went to a multitude of schools at that time. I was somewhat distracted. I had been diagnosed with attention span deficit, so it was quite difficult for me to remain focused. I tended to be much more drawn to the arts. I enjoyed painting and drawing a lot more than dealing in absolutes such as geometry and whatever. Which didn't sit very well at that time. I was asked to leave many schools until I ended up in a special school called Devereaux. At that school, I was introduced to athletics. I had never picked up a ball until I was 16 years old, and then I went out for the football team. I was resoundingly smashed to the ground and left for dead. I was literally eating grass for weeks on end. No one wanted to play with me because I was that inept. So I would walk around day in and day out, tossing the ball to myself up and down, until finally I made the team. And the second year I was the captain of the team. And so from that point I was very attracted to athletics. I began delving into weights and I don't know what it was, but I just felt as if my idols at that time tended to be rather outgoing physical specimens. But not in the bodybuilding world. You know, guys like the old-time football players. Bronko Nagurski, very off-the-wall people like George Hackenschmidt--he was a wrestler. Boxers that were obscure but somehow I found them--like Stanley Ketchel, who was the only middleweight to knock down Jack Johnson--very odd things. But I was drawn to this. I focused on the physical aspects of my life. I did not have very good grades, but I managed to get into the American College of Switzerland, where I stayed for a year in Leysin, Switzerland.
CA: Is that near Geneva?
Stallone: It's two hours outside of Geneva and an hour outside of Lausanne.
CA: So, it's up in the hills.
Stallone: It's definitely way up in the hills. Of course, I'm the only American who went there who refused to ski. Like a fool I learned to play foosball on a professional level.
CA: It sounds like most college experiences in those years.
Stallone: I don't know why. If I'd started skiing then, I'd be wonderful. I waited until I was 45 to learn to ski. Again, I was not very good at the school overall, but that was when I was introduced to drama. Up until then I was preparing myself to go into the Army. I was going to go to Vietnam, and after Vietnam I was going to work as an equestrian because I had been drawn to horses and had an ability in that area. Then someone asked me to audition for Death of a Salesman. A college play. So I went there and auditioned and got the part. The play went on and the director happened to be a Professor Swanson, who was a Harvard graduate, and he said, "You ought to think about this as a profession," and I said, "Forget it," and he said, "Yeah, really, consider it." So lo and behold I took off for Miami, the University of Miami, and I joined the Ring Theater, where I was not exactly encouraged to continue anything other than to pick up a saw and a hammer and chisel and work in theater--behind the curtain, not in front of it. They said, "You're too physical, your voice is too deep, your mouth has a snarly look." I went home completely paranoid. I didn't want to go home and look at myself. I was the Elephant Boy. What happened? Came here feeling good and I'm leaving as the Quasimodo of the South Beach. I couldn't believe it.
CA: This is at the University of Miami?
Stallone: Yes. So finally one of the professors posted an article from a local tabloid saying: "Student leaves [school] too early and becomes a bag lady." I thought, "This is outrageous. How dare they say that if we ever dropped out of school, we were destined to end up in the gutter." I was about three credits short, but I picked up and went to New York to pursue my happiness.
CA: So you never graduated from the university?
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