There is not a movie fan in existence that doesn't know the name Sylvester Stallone. Best known for his portrayal of boxing lug turned superstar Rocky Balboa, as well as the original shell shocked special forces soldier John Rambo, Stallone is an icon. While his career is experiencing something of a rebirth after his action movie extravaganzas The Expendables and its sequels, there's always been more to Stallone than meets the eye. For instance...
He Really Is A Tough Guy
Part of the reason that Sly can breathe believability into action heroes, particularly tough guys who get beat down time and time again, is that it isn't much of a stretch for him. Born in Hell's Kitchen in New York in the 1940s, Sly was in and out of foster care most of his youth due to a rough home life. In that kind of a neighborhood in that time period you had to be tough just to get through the day. Channeling that mean streets life experience into characters like Rocky Balboa is one of the things that made Stallone into an action film sensation. Even today, well into his 60s, Stallone sports a physique that nothing short of a Mack truck would pick a fight with.
As Well As One Hell Of A Writer
Not everyone knows this, but Stallone wasn't the man the film people wanted to play Rocky. They would rather have cast a bigger name star to pair with what was a simple, straightforward, and fantastic script. Because Stallone wrote the script though he wouldn't sell it unless they agreed to let him play the title character. Given that he had barely $100 to his name at the time he was making these demands holding out was a pretty bold move. The studio eventually caved, and agreed to take up Stallone's offer to act for free. They paid him the minimum allowed for a script, $20,000, and gave the movie a $1 million budget. The film grossed over a 200% return and turned Stallone into an instant movie star. If that isn't the American dream then nothing is.
More recently Stallone has also written for television, and a huge part of the runaway success that is the Expendables franchise is due to his pen as well as his determination. Additionally, his first writing credit came in 1974 when he wrote, and acted in The Lords of Flatbush. Pay attention to that title as well, because you're going to be seeing it later on in this list as well.
What's With His Face?
Stallone's trademarks aside from his muscles are his unique voice and his asymmetrical visage. Remember how Sly grew up rough? Well, his family was broke to the point that he was brought into this world at a clinic for people who couldn't afford the expense of going to an actual hospital. Unfortunately while he was being born the forceps cut a nerve in baby Sly's face, which altered both his appearance as well as the way he talks. While unfortunate, it has been argued by many reviewers and film buffs that the flaw gives Stallone a kind of every-man credibility that he would never be able to portray with a straight face, so to speak.
He Went to College Once
Before he went off to New York to become an actor Stallone went to college in Miami. He was barely 3 credits away from graduating when he dropped out to pursue his career, but because he isn't a man that likes to leave things hanging he eventually submitted a Rocky script to the university to finish up his degree.
Yes, He Was In A XXX Movie
While the names Sylvester Stallone and Ron Jeremy will never be uttered in the same breath (though you can read up on True Facts About Ron Jeremy in this link), Sly is far from shy in front of the cameras. Before he hit it big as bruiser Rocky Balboa, Stallone played a sex-crazed gigolo in the softcore adult film Party at Kitty and Studs. The character Stud was his first starring role at age 23 in 1970. After his huge success with Rocky the film was re-released in order to capitalize on Sly's new-found fame. He was paid $200 total for the movie.
He's Made Plenty of Bad Movie Choices
It isn't that Stallone can't act, though there are critics who would argue that point. It's just that for every Rocky or Rambo there are half a dozen films like Avenging Angelo on Stallone's record. He's become a poster child for the Razzies, and he's "won" quite a few of them in his time. However, while he was saved from playing Mr. Freeze in one of the worst Batman films of all time (that honor instead went to Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose own True Facts list is right here), Stallone also turned down roles in Quentin Tarantino's Deathproof as well as the lead in Die Hard. In a way Stallone's choice paved the way for Bruce Willis to step out of smaller movies and comedies to become an action star in his own right.
Miscellaneous Conversation Pieces
Sly is the inspiration for the Fonz. The iconic Happy Days character played by Henry Winkler was based off of Winkler's time working with Stallone in The Lords of Flatbush (told you that title would be cropping up again). According to Winkler Sly was everything the Fonz was supposed to be.
Stallone appreciates a variety of art. He's on the record as enjoying Bollywood films, and he has been known to paint on occasion.
He once predicted the decline of action movies because, thanks to superhero films like the first Batman it was possible for actors to wear muscle suits rather than to actually be muscular for the role. With the latest series of comic books films such as The Avengers, Thor, Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, and others it appears this statement has been turned on its head despite the easy availability of CG technology.