Deadline: 24th November 2018
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Hello everyone and welcome to another introduction post for Director’s Chair. Seeing as this month sees the release of Creed 2, me and Rob, who runs Acting School 101, have decided to focus on the same person this month, that person being Sylvester Stallone. So while Rob is focusing on his efforts as an actor, I’ll be focusing on his efforts as a director.
Now Stallone got his start as a director mainly through his work writing. Stallone initially wrote his first directorial effort, Paradise Alley, before Rocky, but due to behind the scenes issues, Rocky ended up being made first. Following the success Stallone had with Rocky, he was able to get Paradise Alley away from the producer he hated and he was able to direct it. Although it wasn’t a critical success, it did help to put Stallone’s foot in the door as a director.
Following Paradise Alley, Rocky 2 got greenlit and he wrote the script for Rocky 2 like he did with Rocky. However, John Avildsen, the director of Rocky, declined to return as director as he was busy with pre-production on Saturday Night Fever, which he ended up getting fired from. Feeling a personal connection with the script, Stallone lobbied hard to direct the film himself and with the support of producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff, Stallone was hired to direct the film, with the success Stallone had with Rocky 2 leading to him being hired for Rocky 3.
Following Rocky 3, John Travolata, upon seeing it, told his agent that he wanted someone to direct the sequel to Saturday Night Fever, Staying Alive, who would bring a style to the film similar to Rocky 3. To Travolta’s surprise, Paramount was able to get Stallone to direct the film, with Stallone working on the script to ensure that it got a PG, compared to the R that Saturday Night Fever got. The resulting film ended up being a notorious critical disaster, currently rated at 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the film ended up being a huge financial success and was the 8th highest grossing film of 1983.
Stallone then went back to the Rocky series with Rocky 4, which brought in a sillier edge to Rocky, but also helped to establish some of the sports equipment that would be used today back when it was still being experimented with and established a more realistic style for the fights through the use of real punching sounds and Stallone and Dolph Lundgren actually hitting each other.
After Rocky 4, Stallone didn’t direct again for 20 years, and when he did go back into the director’s chair, he went back to Rocky with Rocky Balboa. Always feeling disappointed with the way Rocky 5 turned out, Stallone wanted to give the series a true swansong and did so with Rocky Balboa, putting his own struggles with family and the legacy of the Rocky series into the film. On a directing level, Stallone made the decision to shoot the fight scenes with HD cameras to give them a look of pay per view fights and again real punches were used when shooting the boxing scenes.
After Rocky Balboa, Stallone returned to another one of his characters with Rambo, taking over the directing role of the Rambo series for the first time. Originally, Stallone wasn’t attached to direct the film, but after the original director left over creative differences, Stallone was hired to direct. Stallone was hesitant to direct, but the idea of giving the whole film the personality of Rambo (even though it is not the original personality of Rambo) was too tempting for him to refuse, with this resulting in Stallone rewriting the film constantly. Given the budget of $50 million, Stallone decided to make the film as bloody as possible in order to make the film memorable, and he also stated that he was in danger when filming in Myanmar, narrowly avoiding being shot by the military.
After Rambo, Stallone expressed an interest in doing an ensemble film and, when the script for an action film called Barrow came to his attention, Stallone reviewed it and used it as a starting point for The Expendables. Filling the film with action staples like Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Dolph Lundgren and Mickey Rourke, along with continuing the little jabs that he has with Arnold Schwarzeneger with his role, Stallone was able to create a new action series for these actors, although the films were never critical successes and Stallone didn’t return to direct the others.
Now Stallone does have another film in development focusing on a war amputee, but this film has been stuck in development hell for years and it’s increasingly looking like, due to Stallone’s advancing age, that The Expendables will be his last film as director.
Now, as a reminder, I’m looking for any pieces you have on the films Sylvester Stallone directed. If you want a quick reminder of his films, I’ve listed them below.
- Paradise Alley
- Rocky 2
- Rocky 3
- Staying Alive
- Rocky 4
- Rocky Balboa
- The Expendables
Thanks for reading this and I look forward to receiving the pieces you send me on Stallone’s films.