What It Means To Start From The Bottom: Sylvester Stallone's Origin Story Is Better Than Any Superhero's
At this point in his career, Sly is worth $275 million. He is a cinematic force with the gumption and influence to get pretty much any action star to work with him in “The Expendables” series. But his road to riches was anything but smooth.
His story, as told by the life coach Tony Robbins, is a truly inspirational tale of vision, dedication and desperation.
Sylvester Stallone was a poor, down on his luck man. Having been evicted from his NYC apartment in 1970, he lived in the Port Authority bus station for 3 weeks, until he was cast in a soft-core porno feature called “The Party at Kitty and Stud's.” For his 2 days of work, he was paid $200.
His experience there led him to pursue film further, and he had gained some roles as an extra. Unable to afford a gym membership, Stallone would sneak into a junkyard at night and work out with pieces of cars, and used cinder blocks on a pole for a bar and plates. He was a background dancer, uncredited thug and troubled youth, before landing a role as a supporting character in the '75 film “Death Race 2000.”
Odd jobs supplemented the inconsistent income from his acting gigs. Stallone worked cleaning out cages at the NY Zoo, allegedly getting peed on by a lion one time, worked briefly as a hairdresser (the old family trade) and worked as an usher at a cinema.
Though no longer homeless, Stallone was still living on the brink. He had to sell all of his wife's jewelry to make rent, and they could no longer afford to feed his pet dog Butkus. Posting up outside a liquor store in March 1975, Stallone managed to sell Butkus to someone who would take care of him, but only for $50. A small sum for the heartbreak; Sly says that he cried on the walk home that night.
Two weeks later, the historic fight between Muhammad Ali and journeyman boxer Chuck Wepner inspired Sly, as Wepner hung around for 15 rounds and even managed to knock Ali to the ground in round 9. Varying reports say that in either 20 straight hours of work, or over 3 days, Stallone wrote the script to “Rocky,” which his wife typed up from his fevered scribbles.
The script got strong reviews from the studio, which offered $125,000. Stallone wanted one more concession, that he could play the lead character. The studio balked, citing his inexperience, strange accent and desire to hire an established star, and made several more offers, up to $350,000 for the script and full casting control.
With Rocky-like determination, Sly held on, insisting that he play the title character. Eventually the studio relented, paying $35,000 for the script and giving him the role.
One of the first things Stallone did was go back to the liquor store and wait. Eventually the man who bought Butkus came back to the store and Stallone pleaded with him to sell the dog back. The man refused, and Stallone threw out more and more ridiculous numbers, until the man agreed to sell Butkus back for $3,000 (some reports say 15k).
Obviously the film went on to become an incredible success; Stallone was nominated for Best Actor for his portrayal of Rocky. It was entered into the American National Film Registry, was nominated for 10 Academy Awards — and won Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Film Editing.
To this day Stallone is a humble, hard working actor who does his own stunts, called Bruce Willis “greedy and lazy,” and a tremendous dog lover. All told, a true American hero.
Yo Drake, who started from the bottom?
Tony Robbin's rendition of this story, with emphasis on life-coach-y things is below.
Photo credit: WENN, Sources: Wikipedia, IGN, SuperStar Mag
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