Hey folks, Harry here with the 3rd of 5 Q&A's with the legendary AICN contributor, Sylvester Stallone! Personally, this is the best of the 3 so far, Sly is really hitting his stride here. Just wait till you find out the fates of the ROCKY foes unmentioned in ROCKY BALBOA... But first, Sly answers Edgar Wright's challenge seriously... Let's hope that comes to happen!
1. Sly-- Dare you to answer this one.. Expendables brawl--With that talented cast of badasses, who would win in a fight if all hell broke loose? Who would be the last man standing? Thanks, Sly--lifelong fan. Rocky's speech to his son outside his restaurant in ROCKY BALBOA is my favorite movie speech and I use its theme in my classroom. Adam from Olympia, Wa.
1. Well Adam, before I answer that let me clarify something, me joking with the director of SCOTT PILGRIM is meant to be my variety of an unusual sense of humor. Its similar to the way we joked around on the set of THE EXPENDABLES, in other words, irreverent. I know there are people that think I actually meant this in a mean spirited way, well, that’s not the fact at all. I like to kid around. As a matter of fact, I was speaking a month or so ago with Harry, who was explaining how cool the SCOTT PILGRIM footage looked and I said ‘That’s great, I hope it does fantastic!’ And I do. The last thing I want is for a film, any film, not to do well because that means several other films will never be made because of lack of money. So to Edgar, on opening day – you take me to SCOTT PILGRIM, I’ll take you to THE EXPENDABLES and afterwards we’ll have some fun maybe wrestling Steve Austin for beers. Now Adam, as for your question, unfortunately the last man standing wouldn’t be me, because, my friend, I’m dealing with some truly hard individuals. Steve Austin is a mammothly strong man and Randy Couture is hard as Pittsburgh steel. Dolph certainly is not someone you want to flip off at an intersection because he may simply flip your car over, so in reality you can never bet against a professional light weight and heavy weight champion and be considered sane. Now, put me in the ring with Michael Cera and I might squeak out a unanimous decision. Then again, the kid may have hidden powers. I’m glad you enjoyed the speech from ROCKY BALBOA because that actually is extremely autobiographical and heartfelt. I remember when I wrote it I didn’t think the audience would sit still for such a long speech that was of such a personal matter, but I was pleasantly surprised because I truly believe that life is about absorbing punishment while still moving forward. Thank you.
2. Hello Mr. Stallone, I have often wondered the following with respect to actors and more specifically actors that have reached the levels you have. Do you get excited about upcoming movies that you are not attached to in any way? Do you experience the same feelings of excitement and intrigue that we all, especially AICN readers, do about upcoming projects from other directors/actors? I have often wondered that if being involved in the industry in some way diminishes this or takes away the magic of anticiipating and seeing movies. If you do indeed have these feelings of excitment, what was the most recent movie you excitedly followed in development and subsequently saw ? Hope this question finds you well! Brian Catton Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2. Brian, When I hear of a new project, of course I’m curious to see first of all whose producing and what studio is involved because that usually sets a guideline for how strong its support will be i.e. how much money will be behind it. Next I look at who is directing, with a good director the interest begins to build because it’s really about an expression from an individual film to a personal statement that fans can see a lot of heart went into. So I take note and respect the effort that goes into every film. What I don’t think is beneficial if I may digress, is undo criticism of writers, actors, directors, who have performed to the best of their ability and garner an inordinate amount of hateful feelings or vindictive statements that serve no purpose other than to provide a platform for the hater. I’ve always felt that criticism is invaluable as long as the critic, after he has stated his case on why he dislikes a film, an actor or a director then gives constructive criticism on how he feels a performance or film can be made better. I know what its like to feel anger or resentment towards my fellow artists, but one day I had an epiphany, that this had more to do with me than the subject so I turned it around to a code that works for me. I believe all people should really walk a mile in someone’s shoes as the cliché goes before they begin to throw stones because its such an incredible waste of time that can be used in a more constructive fashion. You know, it’s a simple rule I use when I look at another man’s painting and before I’m critical I say to myself ‘Can I do better?’ If someone gave you a camera or script could you do better? Or better yet, maybe you should try it on a smaller scale and see the effort that goes into filmmaking. Its laborious and sometimes soul searching. No one intends to make a bad film. There are so many circumstances that can make a film go off track, therefore I believe people should be given the benefit of the doubt as much as it may bother your sensibility, an example being you hate the director on principal because you think he is a lightweight. When films don’t work the artist feels worse than any hater could make him feel. Its something they have to live with. Enough said on that.
3. My question - re: the Italian angle, different from Rocky, have you ever considered acting in a mob-based drama? I could see you you nailing the part of an even-tempered mob boss, ala Brando's Godfather (in the words of Wing Chun: firm but not strong, soft but not yielding). My compliment - you always come across as genuine. You seem to love what you do, appreciate your position in life and give your attention and kindness to all those around you (and you've contributed to a little piece of the pie of film which I've enjoyed over the years and will re-enjoy again and again, thank you). John Rinehart Decatur, GA
3. John, There’s an incredible allure when fantasizing that you could be in a mob film. I suppose it’s from the extraordinary impact that THE GODFATHER has had and subsequent films that are modern day Americana seen from a point of view that’s very intriguing. So yes I’d like that very much. As a matter fact, several yrs ago when I was on cinematic skid row I tried to get into a couple of episodes of THE SOPRANOS and that never came to fruition so I’ve never gotten over that lust to do a gangster film. I have a feeling that will happen even if I have to write it myself. Maybe I can do a different kind of gangster. Since they already did SCARFACE, I could play his distant cousin who’s in the automotive business whose name would be CARFACE since my mouth resembles the front of a Buick after a head-on collision.
4. Sly - Thanks for comin back. Much as I enjoyed Sly Moves, I was kind of disappointed when you mentioned during the BALBOA sessions here that you wouldn't be writing your memoirs. But yakking with the AICers like this is a pretty decent substitute! And a belated thank you for ROCKY BALBOA. I can't remember the last time I was so inspired by a movie. Well worth the four extra months we had to wait for it over here. Can't wait for EXPENDABLES (two extra damn months!) but since you just put the director's cut out I gotta ask about the legend called Rambo. In an interview about ten years ago you made an interesting comment about how your son Seargeoh's autism had influenced your characterization of Rambo. Could you elaborate on that a bit? Much respect, Brett (Japan)
4. Thank you very much Brett. The film ROCKY BALBOA is without a doubt the most personal film I’ve ever made because its been played out in my own life many times. So it was cathartic and I’m more than appreciative that the emotions translated to the audience because they were heartfelt. I’ve never really delved into the subject too deeply but when my son was diagnosed many years ago I entered a dark abyss where I questioned God’s motives, asking why is life so unfair, why render a child with such a horrible malady, what cosmic purpose does this serve other than the constant companion of sorrow and guilt and rage at your ineffectiveness to do anything. We really are pawns in the chess game of life so that anger perhaps even wrath fueled the fire for the first RAMBO and it took me many years to come to terms with reality and find acceptance. I don’t throw that word around lightly because that’s the key to survival or peace of mind. When you can finally accept the cards reality has dealt you and realize in this great universe you are not all powerful but merely a passenger on a train you have no control of, I began to lighten up and see the beauty of life not the tragedy.
5. Hallo, Harry... My name is Hunter Paris and I live in sunny, downtown Greeneville, Tennessee. The question I'd like to ask Mr. Stallone is this: During the mid 90s all the way until the financial and critical successes of the latest [and presumably final] Rocky and Rambo films, you withstood a pretty fair degree of derision from those on the interthingy and elsewhere. It really seemed with those first few films of the new millennium that the salad days might well and truly have been over for you and that you were nearly expelled from the ranks of the Hollywood A-list elite, if you will. Now that you're [quite thankfully] back in the proverbial saddle, how does it feel to be "redeemed"? To what do you attribute this return to form, or do you feel that you remained consistent while the public's fickle tastes returned to a more appreciative stance? And lastly, how did you endure those days when you weren't on top? Note to Harry [and everyone if this question is selected]: My apologies for being a bit loquacious, but who wouldn't be if they had Sly's ear, eh?
5. Hunter, Those days when I wasn’t on top felt like being in a valley; dark, cold, lonely and sometimes friendless. Even though I’ve been blessed with extraordinary success there was a regret, a feeling that I let people down, my family down and supporters down by not putting my best foot forward. I hadn’t adopted a sophisticated philosophy towards work. I wasn’t doing the best I could. I was distracted and when you’re distracted from achieving the best of your abilities you will tumble. Therefore I struggled for 7 years to have ROCKY BALBOA made because that was the final note I wanted to go out on. I wanted to do it with dignity. The philosophy I adopted at the beginning of that film I now approach every movie with, as though it were the last. And when you think that this could be your final statement, you pull everything you have inside and you play it out for the world to see. So when your lying on your deathbed you can say ‘I gave it all.’ Now that may come off as overly dramatic, but if you approach anything as though it’s going to be the final chapter, you really pour your heart into it.
6. You worked with notorious producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus on two movies (“Cobra” and “Over the Top”) Can you tell us what it was like working for them? Keith Bailey Victoria, British Columbia
6. Keith, These two men were extremely passionate about filmmaking as a whole yet they approached it purely on a business level so quite often it felt formulaic. But I remember Menahem Golan wanting nothing more than to be a filmmaker and his dream was to do OVER THE TOP, which he did pretty much fulfill that goal. And I must admit, the man did put his money and his word on the line and always provided me with support and ability to insert creative input. For example, I asked him if I could direct the arm wrestling scenes instead of doing them with second unit because I wanted to do them in the style of ROCKY. Not many producers would have allowed this. Now COBRA I have mixed feelings about. I surmise that character could have had a pretty adventurous cinematic life if a bit more attention to detail was paid. Again that harkens back to approaching each film as if it were your last. I only wish I had activated that theory back in the day.
7. Sly, I'm curious to know which actor in The Expendables surprised you the most in the realm of stunts, (Who was willing to do the most stunts or the most extreme ones without a double?) Tres D. Richmond, VA
7. Well Tres, truthfully, no one balked at the idea of putting their bodies on the line and what you see throughout the film is the vast majority of work being portrayed by the actors themselves. If I told Randy to slam himself on the cobblestone he willfully would do it. Terry took great abuse in several scenes where he had to move with great speed (and I mean he was an NFL player) and dive into a rocky surface time and time again while landing in dangerous proximity to explosives etc. I remember Jason constantly being iced up and repaired between takes and going on. Steve Austin in our first scene together we split our heads open and he went on like it was just another day in the office. I don’t know, maybe I‘m naïve, but that saying ‘No pain, no gain’ applies here. There wasn’t much pain during Rhinestone and the movie was an abomination, so perhaps there might be something to the old cliché ‘Blood, sweat and tears.’ Somehow when you leave a little blood behind you have a more successful movie.
8. Hi there, my question: Does Mr. Stallone still have the rights to William Gibson's Count Zero? If not, can he spin any tale about why he was interested, or how that all went down? (I think he'd be a great Turner. Basically a frightening fallen "frankenstein monster" company man. A muscled version of Cobb from Inception.) (if this is a lame question, please feel free to let me know). Name: Warren Blyth location: Corvallis, OR USA
8. Warren, Unfortunately I have no knowledge of COUNT ZERO. But I was and still am fascinated with a script I read a few years ago based on Gibson’s BURNING CHROME, which is an intriguing project and still holds up in this day and age. But thanks for the heads up on COUNT ZERO. I will investigate that.
9. Dear Mr. Stallone; As awesome as your movie ROCKY BALBOA was in updating us and giving closure to one of the most loved cinematic characters in history, I was very highly disappointed in not being updated and thus having closure on Rocky's past opponents. You had mentioned in the past talkbacks that we would see Mr. T return as Clubber Lang only to see a 3 second archive clip! Come on Sly, throw us a bone here!! ;) You must agree that in order to have a successful protagonist you need a successful antogonist, What happened to Clubber Lang? Did he become a boxing analyst or perhaps a televangelist after finding God? What happened to Ivan Drago? Especially after the Glagnost & the fall of communism, it would have been interesting to see what happened to him. Did he migrate to the US and hook up with some hot U.S. Gymnast after divorcing his wife? Did he he become disabled due to his heavy steroid use? Then you have Tommy "Machine" Gunn. Did he become a drug wasted hasbeen? Did he see the error of his ways even though it was too late? Was he convicted or raping a beauty queen in an elevator at a Las Vegas casino? Surely these former opponents of Rocky didn't fall off the face of the earth after being defeated by the Itallian Stallion. Not only do the fans (especially me) need closure but these awesome characters you created need closure too. I assume they paid for your swimming pool & your indoor bowling alley! ;) Anyway a quick update on what happened to these now classic characters would be greatly appreciated! Sincerely with the upmost respect to you & your work! Tim Ryan Lisbon, Maine USA
9. Okay Tim, that one hits me right between the eyes. In the last ROCKY I had written an elaborate storyline for Mr. T (AKA Clubber Lang,) which was reminiscent of George Foreman, who became a ringside analyst. In the script he was doing blow-by-blow commentary and also talking about his new profession of being an evangelist in the making. I thought it was wonderful because he was describing what it was like to fight Rocky Balboa while Rocky was fighting someone else. Unfortunately we couldn’t meet the actor’s financial requirements because we didn’t have enough money to buy fax paper, so I replaced him with HBO commentator Max Kellerman. Ivan Drago I always believed went back to Russia where he was scorned and badgered into a position of disgrace and eventually succumbed to alcoholism and unfortunately then suicide. As for Tommy Gunn, he was exposed as being a project that would never be fully developed as a man and also succumbed to a life of a mediocre fighter barn storming around the country and eventually transforming himself into Tommy ‘Boom Boom’ Gunn, second rate wrestler performing exclusively in the Midwest in third rate venues. Apollo Creed, after his death had a very successful comeback in DAWN OF THE DEAD. But you’ll be hard pressed to recognize him because of severe decomposition. And as for Adrian, she’s still working in that great pet shop in the sky waiting for Rocky to return.
10. Sly, As a film student studying to be a Director, is there any advice you can give me towards filming movies of the Action genre? You're one of the best at it. -Samuel Cline, Dallas, TX