Seems like yesterday, but it was around the time I finished high school that Sylvester Stallone got his first break that affected us all in at least some small way.
This “break” didn’t just fall in his lap either. After several small parts in not so well known movies around the mid 1970’s, Stallone, just turning 30, saw the Muhammad Ali vs. Chuck Wepner fight and his idea for Rocky was born.
Around this time he was extremely broke doing many things just to survive, even selling his best friend, his dog for $50. He wrote his script for Rocky in a few days, but things didn’t just get better, now came the difficult point of selling his vision which was compounded in that he wanted the starring role. This caused some producers who seemed interested in the idea to reject it because they wanted someone else besides Stallone to play the lead role. Yet Stallone, still hungry and very poor insisted he play the lead role.
This I like, the man stands by his convictions even though he was desperately poor and by just accepting a producer to create the movie without him in the lead role, he could’ve at least made money (6 figures!) and ended his plight. But he rejected that. Producers looked at his record, an unknown in films, and turned him down as the lead role, even though he could have been paid well for writing the story.
After months of rejection and seeing many producers finally one loved the idea and agreed to the movie with Stallone playing the part, except the movie was to be made on a very low budget. He also went to where he sold his dog, bought his dog back and put him the movie! Under a million for the budget, many scenes in one take, Rocky became legendary in launching one of the biggest careers in cinema history.
The film released and was nominated for ten Academy Awards, and won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Film Editing. From there Stallone was the hot new movie star and money or finding work in films was no longer an issue. He went on to his 3rd Rocky sequel which actually outperformed the 1st. His Rambo series became huge… I remember watching First Blood and Rocky III with Mr T and Hulk Hogan, these were huge and extremely entertaining.
It was his persistence, when nobody believed in him, while living in poverty that made him successful. Certainly after a few months of rejection… he could have just quit and accepted an offer not to take the lead role! To me, his key to success was his unstoppable determination, his vision of how he could nail that role like no one else! You see someone like that, hang on, something big is about to happen! I’m going to bet the thought of giving up was instantly swept away by his vision. I remember how Jeff Bridges played the role of Tucker, he just kept his “can do” attitude through all obstacles, to me, this is what it looks like in action.
Here it is from Stallone in 4 parts, super enjoy!:
Till next time, God Bless,