Actor of the Week: Sylvester Stallone
As time goes on the action hero seems to mean less and less. Back in the 80’s and 90’s we had the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and many more. But the one that always stood out for me was Sylvester Stallone, which is why he is this week’s Actor of the Week. ‘Sly’ has been in countless classics throughout his career and is a favourite of my family’s, especially for his roles in Rocky and Rambo.
There is sometimes a bit of research involved when it comes to finding out where our Actor of the Week started their career, but with Sylvester Stallone, this was an easy one. Sly started his career with a Hollywood classic, one that not he not only starred in, but also wrote, 1979’s Rocky. In case you have been living under a rock the last 40 years, Rocky is about an underground boxer called Rocky, aka The Italian Stallion, who is given the chance to take on the world champ, Apollo Creed, for a chance at the world title; a huge chance to turn his life around. It’s a simple story, but one filled with a lot of emotion as we see our boxer train for his life to go on and go all 12 rounds with the champion. The great twist to this film is that Rocky doesn’t actually win the fight, but due to him ‘going the distance’ with Creed, he gained unprecedented popularity and his life was changed anyway. Rocky went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, as well as Stallone himself getting nominated for Best Actor. Sly went on to do 5 more Rocky films, which, were not as critically acclaimed as the first film, but all were still brilliant films (save for Rocky 5... that was a bad move!). I cannot explain how much I love these films, they are extremely inspiring and films I hold extremely dear.
In 1982 Sly created another character that will live on forever; the one and only John Rambo, in the First Blood trilogy. First Blood tells a story on a soldier who has returned from the Vietnam War and is always on the move, living from town to town, visiting old war friends. As he reaches one town, he encounters a sheriff who takes an instant dislike to Rambo, making Rambo angry and causing him to get arrested by the Sheriff. Due to the poor treatment from the Sheriff, Rambo escapes and becomes hunted by the whole police department, seeing Rambo having to pull from him skills as a soldier to defend himself against these policemen with an agenda. Stallone went on to doing 2 more films within the First Blood series and then came back many years later to do a 4th film. Sly truly cemented the meaning of an action hero with these films. The Rambo films were as mental and they were fun, seeing each film get more ridiculous as we saw Rambo do more of the impossible, but this was the point of the films, to see one guy do the extraordinary.
In between being part of these classics, Stallone worked with some of the greatest action heroes of the 90’s, such as Kurt Russell in Tango & Cash, as well as Wesley Snipes in Demolition Man. Not only did Sly work with Snipes on Demolition Man, he also worked with former Actor of the Week, Sandra Bullock.
Sadly with the rise of the superhero films, the action hero slowly started to vanish, but not with one last big bang. In 2010, Stallone started The Expendables franchise, a series of films about a group of mercenaries who are hired to do the impossible. The special thing about The Expandables is that is brings together all of the action heroes we have all grown up with, as well as more recent ones, like Jason Statham and Jet Li. Even though The Expendables films were not the best, you have to applaud Stallone with the amount of legends he pulled together to do these films, making them fun due to nostalgia alone.
With Stallone delving into the cheesier films, which wasn’t a bad thing, it seemed like the actor we once saw in the original Rocky was gone. This was certainly not the case, however, as Stallone earned another Academy Award nomination for the recent Rocky adaptation, Creed. Creed is a film about the son of Apollo Creed, played by Michael B. Jordan, who wants to get into the same industry as his father. With Creed’s son so eager to follow in his footsteps, he seeks out Rocky himself to train him. Reluctantly, Rocky accepts, but falls ill during the training, seeing both characters work together to overcome life’s obstacles. Creed is an incredibly heartfelt film, showing the audience how far our favourite boxer has come. I was really disappointed when Stallone didn't win the Academy Award, but luckily he did win the Golden Globe, so I wasn’t completely disappointed.
On the surface Stallone may not seem like the brightest spark, but his career shows us that appearances are nothing. Sly has been a key part in every film he has done, with all of them being a great success. Yo Sly, you did it!