Written by Karen Campbell


Why I ❤️ Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone turns 70 today. Karen Campbell has always had a special place in her heart for the self-made blockbusting legend. She tells us why.

Stallone in 83

Sylvester Stallone in 1983 when Karen probably would have. Photo courtesy of Wiki Common.

I’ve always bloody loved Sylvester Stallone. Not in a sexy way (although I’m sure in his day, I wouldn’t have said no), but because he’s always been the back-runner, the underdog and occasionally, the laughing stock. But throughout his career, the notoriously polite and humble Sly has never faltered, he just applies himself and gets on with it.

When ‘great’ actors are lauded, sadly Sly is not mentioned; he’s deemed somehow not worthy. This is a man who deservedly won an Oscar back in 1977 for a directorial debut that he also wrote and starred in. With Rocky, Stallone exposed himself, his hardships, his pure grit and determination: an American hero was born.

Rocky paved the way for Sly to venture into other realms and, yes, it was all muscle and action and, yes, OK, occasionally a bit shit. But those films do what they say on the tin: they entertain, don’t hurt the head too much and leave you feeling good – Rambo: First Blood Part II, Lock Up and Over The Top I’m looking at you. I love the fact that he also strayed into comedy and I honestly do believe he can do funny. I love Tango & Cash (let’s also just have a moment for Kurt Russell here… grrr), Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was brilliantly dreadful and Oscar, well he’s just so damn cute!

Unsurprisingly, these films did not help his ‘worthy actor’ case – but he just didn’t care. And then he played a blinder, acting De Niro, Liotta and Keitel off the screen in 1997’s Cop Land with an amazing turn as depressed, overweight and partially deaf Freddy Heflin. To this day this film makes me cry thanks to Sly’s utterly compelling performance of downtrodden Freddy, a perceived lost cause in a world of the sparkly Roberts and Rays. But, much like Sly himself, Freddy has the subtle last laugh.

Because Sly’s not daft, although I think he likes to play he is. When all the so-called critics are handing him another Golden Raspberry or taking the piss out of his droll speech, without fanfare he gives them a Cop Land, Cliffhanger or, most recently, Creed.

“It’s testament to the man and his creation that visit Philadelphia’s Museum of Art at any time of day, and someone will be running up those steps and doing the famous hands-in-the-air jump at the top (did it; got a stitch).”

Now then, can we all just take a moment to revisit the legend that is Rocky Balboa in his latest outing, Creed. When it was announced, the biggest Rocky fans (me included) let out a nervous ‘oh no, this might be really shit’ cry. But, dear Sly, I openly apologise: it was fucking awesome. So awesome in fact that you won a Golden Globe (with a standing ovation from those ‘worthy actors’) and only just missed out on another Oscar.

Stallone in Rocky IV

Stallone in Rocky IV. United Artists.

The film gave a fitting tribute to Rocky, someone we’ve grown up with, cried and cheered for and who now sadly, we are looking to say goodbye to. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as he slowly climbed the famed Rocky steps with Creed junior by his side (Jesus, I’m welling up now…). It’s testament to the man and his creation that if you visit Philadelphia’s Museum of Art at any time of day, someone will be running up those steps and doing the famous hands-in-the-air jump at the top (did it; got a stitch).

Stallone is – quite rightly – being celebrated and applauded once more. It’s totally acceptable if he wants to gather his mates, put on a vest, and run around with machine guns for three, yes THREE, films (god bless you The Expendables) and it’s totally fine if he wants to play a Colombian gang mafioso (in the upcoming Scarpa) because he’s Sly; he knows what he is, what he does best and we love him for it. Keep on keeping on Mr S!

Karen presents life-coaching workshop In Search of Lost Ambitions, at The School of Life on Thu 8 Sep. Click here for more details. 


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Written by Karen Campbell

Karen Campbell is a life coach at www.your-dreamcatcher.com. She likes gin, James McAvoy and pretending she's not from Scunthorpe.