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The 2 Roles That Defined Sylvester Stallone's Career

By    |   Wednesday, 18 Mar 2015 07:00 PM

"Rocky" has gone his last round and "Rambo" might be about to fire his last round. Is this really it for two roles that have defined the career of Sylvester Stallone?

The actor has from the start drawn a clear parallel between Rocky Balboa and his own life. Stallone told The New York Times in 1976: "'Rocky had drive and intelligence, and the talent to be a fighter, but nobody noticed him. Then, when opportunity knocked, everybody said, 'Hey, there's Rocky, he's good.' That's what happened to me.''

According to Total Rocky, Stallone got the inspiration for "Rocky" after spending "the last of my entertainment money" to see a pay-per-view fight between champion boxer Muhammad Ali and a New Jersey favorite named Chuck Wepner. Wepner surprised everyone by going 15 rounds against the champ, and "that night," Stallone said, "Rocky was born."

Wepner sued Stallone for "cashing in on his life story" and they settled for an undisclosed amount. The producers of an ESPN documentary about Wepner call him "The Real Rocky."

Boxing great Joe Frazier says the iconic scene of Rocky running up the Philadelphia Art Museum is, along with the scene of Rocky training by slugging sides of beef — lifted from his life. "Rocky is a sad story for me," Frazier told The Guardian.

But, before all that, Stallone saw Rocky's story as his own.

As Stallone shopped his screenplay around Hollywood, producers wanted the big-name stars of the day — Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Ryan O'Neal — to play Rocky but Stallone said, "I would sooner burn the thing than have anyone else play Rocky Balboa. Not for a million dollars."

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Meanwhile, a book by David Morrell was making the rounds in Hollywood and many stars were turning it down. Fans say Stallone's star power saved this movie — and "First Blood" reinvigorated Stallone's career.

In fact, Chicago film critic Roger Ebert credited Stallone with selling the story. "Stallone creates the character and sells the situation with his presence itself," Ebert wrote in 1982.

Now, Rocky and Rambo are about to head off into the sunset. "Creed" is filming in Philadelphia, and in it, Rocky Balboa is trainer to Adonis Creed, grandson of Rocky's late rival-turned-friend Apollo Creed.

"It's something that I thought at first was insane," Stallone told Graham Walker of The Star.
"My vision of Rocky was complete. I was very satisfied with the last one and certainly Rocky could never get in the ring again." The new movie is "not Rocky VII. It's Creed I."

Once he's done with "Creed," he says he'll start work on the fifth "Rambo" movie, and that's likely it for John Rambo, too. "He realizes what his destiny really is," Stallone told MTV News in 2012. "It's not to be a farmer, it's not to be obscure. It's to go out in a blaze of glory in a heroic fashion."

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"Rocky" has gone his last round and "Rambo" might be about to fire his last round. Is this really it for two roles that have defined the career of Sylvester Stallone?
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2015-00-18
Wednesday, 18 Mar 2015 07:00 PM
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