×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cannes: Sylvester Stallone Says ‘Rambo’ Wasn’t ‘Meant to Be a Political Statement’

The final day of Cannes was devoted to honoring Sylvester Stallone, who conducted a masterclass on the Croisette, where he looked back at his 43-year career and discussed how he never intended “Rambo” to get so political.

Thousands queued outside the Salle Debussy to sit down with the star and gave him a raucous standing ovation as he strode to the stage in laid-back cowboy boots and flannel, where he greeted the crowd with a famous “Yo!”

Stallone spent much of the hour-and-a-half-long talk discussing his “Rocky” and “Rambo” characters. He said that the latter character “was never by any means meant to be a political statement, but it became one — it took on a life of its own.”

“I’m almost a political atheist. I’m not a political animal and I never wanted to be. I just thought, this is an interesting story about alienation,” he recounted. “But oh my God, once President Reagan went, ‘I saw Rambo, and he’s a Republican!’” he riffed, dropping his mic and putting his hand to his head in faux disbelief, to roars of laughter.

The actor revisited how hard it was to make a name for himself at first as an unknown face who, thanks to an accident in his youth, actually had a hard time even speaking. “I knew it was bad when Arnold Schwarzenegger told me, ‘You have an accent.’ I go, ‘Excuse me? I have an accent?’” he laughed.

He hadn’t been anyone’s top pick for either “Rocky” or “Rambo,” saying of the first, “They would’ve taken a kangaroo — anybody but me,” and of the latter, “I was the 11th choice.” But he made the roles his own, reprising the former in eight films and the latter in four, with the fifth hitting theaters on Sept. 20.

He’d received his fair share of flak for constantly making sequels, he admitted, but quipped: “Isn’t a famous TV show just sequels? You watch the same damn show for 10 years, but you should only make a good film once?”

Stallone has come to embrace the fact that he’s cast as a certain type over the years. “You have a certain thing that you can do well. Dustin Hoffman’s not playing Rambo and I’m not playing Tootsie,” he ribbed. What he continues to love is mythology, and stories about “a man against himself and the system.”

“I just try to stay with that and perfect it, and not try to go outside my box too much, because there’s other people who can do those things better,” he said. “Every time I venture away from it, I end up in ‘Stop or My Mom Will Shoot,’ it’s horrible.” The 80s and 90s were full of such flops about which he harbors “a lot of regrets.”

But it’s also something to look back and laugh on. “My daughters go, why did you make this s—? I go, ‘Come on, how do you think I paid for your school? Shut up. Jesus.’”

Stallone delighted the audience by telling them he still lives with the two turtles from “Rocky,” who are now enormous and about 55 years old. “I think I should do another ‘Rocky’ and I join them in the bowl. Everyone’ll be dead except the turtles, my only friends,” he said.

The films did take their toll to shoot, however. In “Rocky IV,” Stallone asked his rival Dolph Lundgren to really let loose and hit him as hard as he could — which ended with him being helicoptered out and in intensive care for four days. “He hit me so hard, he almost stopped my heart. I went to the hospital and they thought I was in a car crash.”

New teaser footage of “Rambo V” will be shown this evening and a restored, 4K version of “Rambo: First Blood” will screen in the main Grand Theatre Lumiere to close out this year’s festival. Stallone looks back with humility and acknowledges his luck in his route to the top. The year before “Rocky,” he was still parking cars. And then, with a film he wrote in three days and shot in 25, he was winning Oscars.

“That’s how fast you have to believe your life can change. I’ve had a hundred bad ideas to every one good one, but all you need is one good idea,” he said. 

More Film

  • Méndez Esparza, Fernando Franco, Villaronga Projects

    Projects By Mendez Esparza, Fernando Franco and Villaronga at Small Is Biutiful

    Antonio Méndez Esparza’s “Que nadie duerma,” Fernando Franco’s “La consagración de la primavera” and Agustí Villaronga’s “3.000 obstáculos” figure among the seven projects to be pitched at Paris’ Small Is Biutiful forum. The closing event for the alternative Spanish film festival Dífferent 12!, Small Is Biutiful takes place June 26, bringing together French distributors and [...]

  • Judi Dench

    Judi Dench Says Works by Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey Should Be Respected

    Veteran British star Judi Dench has said that the work produced by Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey should be separated from the offenses they are alleged to have committed. Both Weinstein and Spacey face charges of sexual assault in the U.S., which they deny, and have been investigated in other jurisdictions as well, including Britain. [...]

  • Karlovy Vary Honorees

    Karlovy Vary Fetes Julianne Moore, Patricia Clarkson, Vladimir Smutny

    The Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival Honorees JULIANNE MOORE, Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema An actress, author and activist, Moore has long earned accolades on her diverse career path. The North Carolina native won a Daytime Emmy with her first major TV role on the soap opera “As the World Turns,” [...]

  • CLOSE QUARTERS – In Disney and

    Korea Box Office: ‘Toy Story 4,' ‘Aladdin’ Share Weekend

    Two Disney releases, “Toy Story 4” and “Aladdin” ruled the weekend box office in Korea. Opening on Thursday, “Toy Story 4” earned $8.54 million from 1.12 million admissions over its four opening days. The animated family adventure film accounted for 32% of the country’s total weekend box office. May release “Aladdin” slipped to second from [...]

  • Lendita Zeqiraj Agas House Movie

    Karlovy Vary Embraces New Voices From the East

    When Karlovy Vary Film Festival’s East of the West competition opened to submissions from the Middle East two years ago, festival artistic director Karel Och noted it was “about time to abandon the political definition of the ‘East of the West’ countries,” long determined by the geographical boundaries hemming in the former Soviet bloc. Though [...]

  • Let There Be Light Movie Marko

    Tough Competition in Spa Town Festival

    When the curtain rises June 28 on the 54th edition of the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival, there will be a conspicuous absence among the 12 titles selected for the main competition: Czech directors. It’s just the second time this decade that the host country has failed to field a single entry in competition, a [...]

  • Diana Rigg, Terence Stamp Join Edgar

    Diana Rigg, Terence Stamp Join Edgar Wright’s ‘Last Night in Soho’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Edgar Wright’s “Last Night in Soho” has rounded out its cast, with veteran actors Diana Rigg and Terence Stamp among the stars signing on for the latest movie from the “Baby Driver” director. Stamp can currently be seen in Netflix hit “Murder Mystery” with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. Rigg’s recent roles include Olenna Tyrell [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content