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Round #18 - Stallone chats about fatherhood, xenophobia and Rocky - The Cotton Club Story -- & much more!!!

Hey folks, Harry here... This one has been in for hours, but I've been out taking care of Holiday Necessities, sorry for the delay. However, this time out, Stallone confesses he'll be back before the next RAMBO film for another session of 200 Q's. Doesn't that fucking rock?!?!?!?! Good job folks, you're entertaining Sly, even as he's entertaining you. Standing O for all around!

1. Hey Mr. Stallone, I've been shooting a film in South Philadelphia for the past two years and the original "Rocky" has been a significant inspiration. I've been working with various Mummers and it never fails - I say action and they spouting lines from your films. I had always wished I'd had the budget to cast you in a cameo as an old-school Mummer in the movie! My question: The original Rocky really captured something essential about South Philadelphia's working class. After so much time away, did you find anything particular changed about the landscape or ethics of South Philadelphia and was it at all difficult for you to tap into that again? I'm looking forward to the new film! Have a blast at the Philly screening! Best of luck, Tom Quinn Bucks County, PA
South Philadelphia hasn’t changed much at all, and that’s the beauty of shooting in that great city. It has that consistent personality that feeds into the Rocky character.
2. Hey Sly, Thank you so much for doing this! You have been an inspiration to me since I was a little kid. I can't wait for "Rocky Balboa" to hit the theatres. My question is about your film "Lock-up"...great movie! I remember reading that you used actual prison inmates while shooting. Do you have any interesting memories from that shoot? Thanks, Anthony Caliendo New Jersey
Yes, I’ll never forget that the prisoners were allowed to play in the football game and, unbeknownst to me, many of them had been caged up for 24 hours a day, for many, many stressful years, so their idea of fun was dismembering the actor. The way I was tossed around, I thought eventually someone was going to make a wish with my legs. I don’t want to comment too much on the prison population, because they’re highly sensitive, so let me just say it’s a rough crowd, and sometimes I’d have to laugh when prisoners in a hardcore block would say “Hey, I fucked Brigitte last night and she wasn’t that good…. How about you tonight?”
3. Sly, I just finishing reading The Official Rocky Scrapbook that you wrote in 1977 and here is what you wrote in the final paragraph of the book..... "Love and loyalty, whenever applied to any desire in life, will take you farther up the steps to your goal than any other fuel I can think of. Without love, loyalty, desires, passion, courage, dignities, faith, beliefs, and all the other ingredients that go into making the human soul something so elevated that only God knows its limits, we are only shells bobbing aimlessly in a calm sea of mediocrity. ...And if you can figure that out, please write and explain that to me because you're a better man than I am." Did anyone ever write and explain this to you? Have you been able to figure this out yet now that you are 30 years wiser? Thanks, Rich Wisconsin
Actually I had figured it out a long time ago, but rereading the statement, I thought it may smack of nouveau riche sentimentality, and I tried to diffuse it with a joke at the end. I believe you can refine that statement to, “Only do the things you love, period.” But, unfortunately that’s a duplicitous statement because of people’s economic situations; they’re forced to perform duties they do not love for the sake of survival. Therein lies one of life’s great Catch-22 dilemmas. But I will say life without loving something is merely a doleful existence. In another borderline pretentious line that was credited to me in Who’s Who in America, I believe I said something that I do live my life by, and that is, “If for one mortal moment one does not reach for the stars, he hasn’t lived, merely existed.”
4. Hello Mr.Stallone, I am a professional table tennis player, ranking and your big all time fan. My big dream is go to Olympic games in Peking,but it is unbelieveble difficult. I saw pictures,when you run very proud with Olympic torch,so my question is,how did you get this oportunity and did you enjoy it? Maybe some story about it? Thank you very much for answer. I am looking forward to Rocky Balboa,but in Czech republik is realize in march. Marek Klasek,Czech republik
I couldn’t believe they asked me to run with the torch, because at that time I was well off everyone’s radar, including my family’s… so it came out of the blue and I didn’t know how to prepare. Since I’m not a runner by nature, all I could see was me dashing across the beach with my non-cardio legs tripping on a conch shell and falling face down on the flame, where my grease-soaked hair would ignite and propel me screaming insanely into the beach, which is nothing more than an oil sludge that would inadvertently explode upon contact with my flaming pompadour… all’s well that ends well.
5. Dear Mr. Stallone, First off, I want to thank you for being a childhood hero. Watching Rocky III was a daily ritual for me when I was four-years-old, and the heart of Mr. Balboa has inspired me ever since. 1) Every once and a while I come across the opinion that the Rocky film series is xenophobic. What is your response to those critics? Thank you and take care. Hicham Raache, Arkansas
Nothing could be more absurd than accusing myself, and thus the character, of that. The world of boxing is probably ten percent white and the rest a mix of races. Out of the five former ROCKY films, two of my opponents have been white, and two black. How that translates into racism is beyond me. But what Rocky is truly prejudiced against, and incredibly cruel to, is male ice skaters, who possess superior ankle strength to his own.
6. I would like to start off and say thanks, for this insite into your life as an actor, film maker, and more importantly a good human being. My question is this, Why did you go through all this for us? Keith Herrin
I’m glad you asked that question. I was trying to surmise our relationship, because on the surface we seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. The truth is, we are not that dissimilar. I relish the relationship we’ve developed and truly take to heart the insights provided by the talk-backs/comments… because you open up a window to the world that is closed to most celebrities because of arrogance on their behalf. But the time comes when professional gravity sets in and you, my friends, are the keepers of the flame, the bearers of the truth, and quite often the truth comes wrapped in barbed wire. More than being physical, I consider myself cerebral and a person who lives his life alone. I came up that way. I feel the way many of you feel, there’s a kinship there, and that’s why I’ve savored this experience and will miss it when it rides off into the sunset. But, I will return with RAMBO IV and welcome your insights into that character and life in general. I may be a freak on the exterior, but I’m a geek at heart.
7. Merry Christmas Mr Stalone Always been a fan of yours and I’m currently expecting my first child and no matter how much I beg my girlfriend says I cannot call it Rocky or Rambo. Fatherhood seemed to be the only fight Rocky ever really struggled with. Was this based on your own fathering experiences? What piece of advice could you give me in preparing for and raising my child? P.S. How much of the dirt bike stunt work did you do yourself in Rambo? It’s always been one of my favourite parts of the film. Regards Paul Donnelly Castleblayney, Ireland
I did the majority of the dirt bike stunt work, except for leaping over a barbed wire fence at 60 mph into a field of gopher holes. That I could sit out with pleasure. As for being a father, the most important thing is having a son that hopefully is born with character. I beleive that character is part of the DNA of man that separates us, more than skin color, language or even sex. You can change your personality, but your character is who you are. It’s the fingerprint of your soul. Hopefully you’ll have a child born with character, and that you’ll know soon enough when he interacts with other children, especially when we must face the fact that children, left on their own, can be naturally cruel. They’re not born nice, they’re taught to be nice. I believe it’s a matter of confronting your son on a regular basis about all the tests life is gonna throw his way, and that it doesn’t matter what other people think, only what you think. Jealousy is as natural as breathing, controlling it takes education, and, most importantly, understand that fear will always be your companion and controlling it is what makes the difference in many of your positive life choices. I believe fear is the fuel of ambition.
8. Hey, Sly! How do you balance your job as a director and your job as an actor. I know from experience that it can be pretty tough directing a movie where you are the star in it. Is there ever a time where for just a second you almost go out of character because you maybe worrying about how the shot is coming off? Thanks, dude! God Bless and have a Merry Christmas! Chase Kuertz Goodlettsville, TN USA
All the time. All the time. As much as actors like to profess they’re “in the moment,” the truth is, the ideal professional is someone who can pretend he’s in the moment with such clarity it compels the audience to believe what they’re seeing. You cannot be in the moment all the time. If you were, there is a condition called schizophrenia which would aptly apply. Like I said before, the best actors are the best pretenders, and the best pretenders are a touch crazy. In the movie PERFORMANCE, starring Mick Jagger, his character says something that always stuck with me, “The performance that makes it, that really makes it, is one that achieves a little bit of madness.” So what I try to do is learn the script word for word, beginning to end, so I can be in a scene while focusing on others’ performances. This is especially true when working with amateurs, such as a girl named Angie in ROCKY BALBOA, who was actually a former multiple drug addict and child prostitute, and was required to humiliate Rocky as being a has-been. Since he was so raw, I had to be completely out of character while making sure she was in character. But it’s not apparent when you see me, because for that scene I was on autopilot.
9. Harry, this is without a doubt the best thing that I've been reading on the internet in the last 10 years. Thank you. Sly, Frequently when I'm drunk, I'll start waxing on philosophically about Rocky being a mythological hero for our myth-deprived culture. I feel certain that it was written to give our plastic culture a real mythic hero. Am I right or am just just a rambling drunk. I mean, its the reluctant hero with superhuman strength thing that makes me so certain. Did you write it to give us a real hero to look up to? -Drew Halloran
Absolutely. Actually, a hero I could look up to also, because I certainly fell well short of having Rocky’s moral core. I suggest many people, if they’re interested in the hero’s journey, to tap into Joseph Campbell and his incredible range of knowledge about the mythology of the hero (and quite often a reluctant one) and his place in society. It appears that every culture, no matter how diverse, requires these mythic journeys to provide moral lessons to their young.
10. Dear Sly, Would you ever consider writing and directing a non Rocky boxing film? I remember reading an online article a while back that you had the rights to doing a George Foreman bio. Also is there any truth to the rumor that the Weinsteins are holding up filming for Rambo IV because they want the distribution rights back?
The Weinstein situation has been settled, so there’s no problem. The only problem now is getting the character back to a heart and soul scenario, and a resolve at the end that hopefully puts a lump in people’s throats. Everybody has to go home in one sense or another, likewise Rambo, who is also designed to be a mythic outcast - the dark side of life - while Rocky is the light. P.S. Someone wrote a question about what happened with Robert Evans and THE COTTON CLUB. At the time I was supposed to do it instead of Richard Gere… whoops, here we go again. I was fairly intrigued, but privately my life was in shambles. My marriage was truly on the rocks and there seemed to be no salvaging the situation. So I began dating another woman at that time (who shall remain nameless) and slowly I was feeling better about myself. One afternoon I was invited to Robert Evans’ house to discuss doing the movie. I was completely on board until he said, “I might have something that’ll interest you.” Whereupon he returned with a duffle bag full of X-rated Polaroids. He dumped this mess on the coffee table and burrowing through all these poor actresses that thought they were going to eventually amount to something, he came across a very X-rated Polaroid of the girl I was dating and said, “Hey, look, we have something in common.” I thought blood was going to come out my eyes and felt such loathing at that moment. What was the man thinking? Is this his idea of bonding, by showing me a salacious image of the girl I thought was beyond anything so perverse? Guess not. Without a word, I exited his house and his life. Funny how Polaroids change the course of history.

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