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Stallone II

After years of muscling his way across the screen, Sylvester Stallone seeks a different label: serious actor.
Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Sylvester Stallone, Mar/Apr 98

(continued from page 8)

Stallone: Three credits shy.

CA: Marvin's going to love that. Cause he's a UM graduate.

Stallone: Really? The curriculum of most schools in the United States was developed in 1870. If they just taught courses in coping--just called "Coping," starting in the first grade, how to cope with life--you would find a lot more people prepared for what they are going to have to face after they leave school.

CA: Does the journey of that part of your life, from Hell's Kitchen and back to New York and the creation of Rocky, seem longer than the journey from Rocky to where you are today?

Stallone: Yes, it definitely seems longer. Because from Rocky to today seems like a descent into a tornado, where everything around is churning and unpredictable and ripping structures from their foundations. Because you are in the eye of the public. I tend not to experience life like I used to because I am in a vacuum, and I'm always being scrutinized. Before that, life seemed to move along a lot slower and in a much more investigative way. I could go into stores and be anonymous. I wasn't given any privileges. I was not considered and judged by mere virtue of being a celebrity. If someone thought, "That's a stupid statement," they'd say it. That was a much more realistic lifestyle and one that moved along much, much slower. But it also had greater impact. Because that is what I took with me into the future. So I'm pretty happy that things turned out the way they did because it did not come easy. Not for me. I was not one of those people who come into town and a couple of weeks later get a soap opera, another soap opera and then a couple of commercials.

CA: Did you do the standard actor-in-waiting jobs, like waiting tables and other odd jobs, whatever?

Stallone: I cleaned lion cages. I would cut fish heads. I was a deli worker. I was, what did they call it, the head of the usher's association at the same theater where Rocky later opened up. I had all these menial jobs. Menial in the sense that I wanted to take jobs that would require zero mental facilities and also at night so that I could leave the days open to pursue my career. Four years at college to cut fish heads. I said, "Trust me. There's a method to all this."

But I really did have a code of ethics, which eventually came into being when I had written Rocky in 1975. The script itself was an act of passion because I saw a window opened in 1975, around July. The producer had read another script of mine called Paradise Alley. But unfortunately that was embroiled in litigation. I had sold the rights for $200, that was how broke I was at the time. And he said, "That's too bad, because the script was pretty good." So I said, "Let me go home and maybe I can come up with something else." And I saw the Chuck Wepner-Ali fight and I said, "Now this is interesting." They called Chuck Wepner "The Bail Leader" and he was considered this clumsy pugilist, but he had heart. And he knocked the champion down, and I said, "My God, his life is made. No matter what, we know he's going to win because he's won. This is interesting. We all consider ourselves challengers in the fight against life and quite often we're all going to lose, but we sure would like to knock life on its ass one time, [to show] that at least I existed, that I meant something." So I went home and I worked feverishly for three days and developed a script that was by no means...

CA: You wrote the script in three days?

Stallone: Um hum. It was by no means the final script. But it was workable enough for them to buy it.

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