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Stallone Reflects on the Two Rs

10 Nov, 2006 By: Craig Modderno

Rocky Balboa

Thirty years ago, Sylvester Stallone, now 60, shocked the world by writing and starring in Rocky, which won an Academy Award for best picture. MGM Dec. 5 is bowing the title on a special-edition DVD and Blu-ray Disc, as well as a DVD collection of five “Rocky” films.

Stallone quickly became an actor who mattered, especially in a trio of films he made about a crazed Vietnam veteran named Rambo. First Blood, the first in the “Rambo” series, is coming out on Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate Feb. 6.

HMR: Why did First Blood and the Rambo character work?

Stallone: You mean why did it spawn so many bad direct-to-video ripoffs?

Rambo was a monster who had gone amuck. A modern-day Frankenstein created by our government to fight in Vietnam.

I saw him as a positive representative of a Vietnam vet who rebelled at the government when they abandoned him in his own country after he did their dirty work in the war overseas.

The late Richard Crenna, who played my superior officer, never got the credit for the “Rambo” films that he should have. He was the voice of reason in the film that audiences related to and a great guy in real life. He always knew how to make me laugh or smile throughout these very difficult shoots, and I'll always be grateful to his memory for that.

HMR: What do you want to say about the next “Rambo” film (due in 2008)?

Stallone: He's an exile in a world more hardened and less frivolous than before. Rambo calls hell “home.” He's not the kind of character ready to go away. It's set in Thailand, where Rambo avoids going with the system. Basically, he's at war with himself. The film addresses the question of “where does the modern gladiator go when the battle is over?” It's like Clint Eastwood's film Unforgiven in that the film begins in a world of light, but the main character returns to hell to fight his own demons.

HMR: You directed and starred in Rocky Balboa (due in theaters in December), in which the now senior citizen fights an exhibition against an opponent half his age. Why do another film unless he's going to be fighting father time?

Stallone: That's the plot of Rocky 7. Seriously, I thought the time was right for the public to once again have a hero that they could feel comfortable with, someone who they'd been through the good times and the bad times with, who still had the desire to get back in the ring to prove to himself that life and middle age was worth living.

HMR: Are there films you made that you think deserve to be looked at again on DVD other than the “Rambo” and “Rocky” series?

Stallone: Oscar was a funny comedy with a great cast that John Landis did an excellent job directing. I was the worst actor in it.

Paradise Alley borders on surrealism where reality and dreams and aspirations come together.

Assassins could have been something special, but it was like walking on a tightrope or skating on thin ice.

Nighthawks was an excellent movie, made over a decade ahead of the times. I'm a New York City detective trying to stop an international terrorist, who was based on Carlos the Jackal and is played well by Rutger Hauer.

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