Sylvestor Stallone- The Writer Behind the Actor
Sylvester Stallone’s father was a hairdresser and his mother was a dancer. Due to some complications during birth, Stallone developed nerve damage giving him a partially paralysed lip and slurred speech. He had a disturbed childhood. He was expelled from school due to poor performance. His parents also divorced and Stallone was sent to several foster homes.
Having faced so many difficulties in life, Stallone wanted to inspire people who were going through the same pain. He aspired to become an actor and auditioned tirelessly for castings but was denied each time as he had a crooked face and wierd accent. At some point, he got so broke that he stole his wife’s jewellery and sold it. Things got so bad that he even ended up homeless. He had to sleep at the New York bus station for 3 days unable to pay rent or afford food. His lowest point came when he sold his dog for $25 to a stranger as he didn’t have money to feed the dog anymore. He says he walked away crying.
Two weeks later, he saw a boxing match between Mohammed Ali and a virtually no-name boxer Chuck Wepner where the underdog, Wepner managed to knock Ali out at one point, and almost went the entire distance of the fight with him. The match gave him the inspiration to write the story of Rocky Balboa. Thus was born the idea for the famous movie, ROCKY. He wrote the script for 20 hours straight and in 3 days he had a screenplay ready with the vision of playing the lead role himself.
However things were still not going to be easy. He did get an offer of $125,000 for the script but the studio wasnt ready to cast him. They said he “Looked funny and talked funny”. A few weeks later, he was offered $250,000 for the script. He refused. They even offered $350,000. He still refused. They wanted his movie, but NOT him. Stallone denied all offers and kept insisting that he would not sell his script unless they agree to cast him in the lead role. Finally the studio agreed to cast him but gave him only $35,000 for the script.
His difficulties did not end there, however. The movie was given only $1 million budget. Stallone had to get a lot of his family and friends to play small roles in the movie and the production. His wife worked as the set photographer, his brother was cast as an extra. Even shooting for the movie was not easy for Stallone physically. His body would often tire and give up under the strain but he keep pushing himself to hold on a little more.
The movie ultimately won Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Film Editing at the prestigious Oscar Awards. He was even nominated for Best Actor! The Movie ROCKY was even inducted into the American National Film Registry as one of the greatest movies ever!
One interesting fact about Stallone is that after receiving the $35,000 for the script, the first thing he bought was the DOG he had sold. Stallone stood at the liquor store for 3 days waiting for the man he sold his dog to. And on the 3rd day, he was able to meet the man asked to buy back his dog. The man refused so Stallone offered him $100. The man continued to refuse all his offers. Stallone ultimately had to pay $15,000 (half of the amount he had received) for the same dog he sold at $25 only!
They say the night is darkest before the dawn. Sylvester Stallone is the best living example of it.