Four Things I Learned About Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone is one of those actors who seems to exist in my celebrity periphery. I know of him, I can name at least two movies he’s done recently, and I enjoy his work on the odd occasion that I do see it. But I don’t deliberately seek his work out, nor do I find myself having an opinion of him one way or another. For me, he’s simply there, almost like that distant uncle you only run into at weddings and find yourself having the odd mundane conversation with. Recently though, I found myself sitting down to watch Escape Plan, featuring Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I felt like I had just seen Stallone not too long ago in one of his Expendables movies. Curious as to how I knew so little about someone who now seemed so big, I thought I might learn a little more about the man. And I have to admit, I found it interesting.
As a writer, I’m always happy to hear a success story, and Stallone found his through writing. After struggling to make it as an actor and having at least a little success with contributing to one or two scripts, Stallone decided to write Rocky. It took him three days. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Writing is not something to be taken lightly. Writers who are serious about what they do have a regular routine and great discipline. And Stallone fits that on both counts. He gets up at four-thirty every morning and writes for three hours. Writing is like exercise to him, and he believes that he works the best in the morning. Doing this has allowed him to write both Expendables movies, plus another one coming up. Oh, and also the movie Homefront (starring Jason Statham and James Franco). Stallone’s best advice for writers? Two important pieces.
Number one: “Expect to fail. It is not a permanent state.”
Number two: “I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.”
Pretty good advice from the guy who not only writes but acts and directs too.
Okay, maybe not exactly ruining. But in an interview two years ago, Stallone commented on how superhero movies are changing the way that action movies have been styled and built in previous years:
“This genre unfortunately is becoming… let’s just say it’s fading away. You have the superheroes today which are possessed with all extraordinary powers; they can blink and a fireball comes out of there. It’s great. And then you have a bunch of us which is just your basic male-pattern badness. … Kind of like hands-on action.”
That’s a rather interesting comment from the man who made The Expendables films, but I can see where he’s coming from. Heroes like John McClane and Rocky are larger-than-life, but they’re still just men. They’re heroes that we can rally behind and think “If he can do it, maybe I can too”. With superhero films, we don’t get that. They’ve already got the powers. They just need to learn how to control or use them. And yes, we could include Batman and Iron Man into the whole “they’re still just men” category, but that’s an entire “Are they really superheroes?” debate that I don’t want to get into. So are superhero movies going to be the new norm, with the odd Liam Neeson action flick on the side? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Every actor in Hollywood has their own struggles to deal with. Heck, every person in the world has their own problems and issues that they have to battle at one time or another. In this way, Stallone is no different. His first marriage fell apart and he moved on to a second. He lost one of his sons two years ago (in what is rumored to be a drug overdose). In addition to this, his remaining son has autism. For those who don’t know, autism is a developmental disorder that affects everything from communication to social interaction to behavior (Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of an autistic man in Rain Man is an extreme, but fairly realistic, example). Shortly after his son was diagnosed, Stallone recorded a PSA about autism.