Jewish World Review September 27, 2012/ 11 Tishrei, 5773
Sylvester Stallone, the Dalai Lama and me
By Barry Koltnow
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) You've probably read a lot of stories about Sylvester Stallone in the 36 years since "Rocky" launched the actor to international stardom, but I'll bet you've never heard the one about the Dalai Lama.
The reason I am familiar with this story is that I witnessed the incident in question.
It happened a little more than four years ago, just a week before the January opening of Stallone's new movie "Rambo," which he wrote and directed, in addition to starring as the iconic movie character John Rambo. Although it was the fourth film in the franchise, it had been 19 years since the character appeared on screen. The movie made more than $100 million at the box office.
Stallone and I met in the lobby of the Four Seasons hotel in Los Angeles, and were walking briskly down a hallway to start an interview in his suite.
Just as we got to the suite, two unsmiling men in dark suits appeared out of the shadows and stood in our path. One of the men addressed Stallone.
"Do you have time to take a call from the Dalai Lama?"
I don't know about Stallone, but I was impressed. It's not every day that the Tibetan spiritual leader picks up the phone to chat. Well, he certainly doesn't call me that often.
My surprise at the man's question paled in comparison to what happened next.
The actor politely declined the offer, explaining that he was running late for our interview. He then motioned for me to enter the suite, and followed me inside, closing the door slowly on the spiritual leader's stunned representatives.
"I hope you appreciate what I just did for you," Stallone said with a smile.
I did. The Dalai Lama probably doesn't come in second place to many people. But apparently Stallone is a man of integrity who honors his commitments.
I was reminded of that story after reading news reports concerning Stallone, who has to promote a new movie this week while grieving over the recent death of his son Sage. The movie is "The Expendables 2," a sequel to the successful 2010 mercenary movie "The Expendables," which rejuvenated Stallone's career when it made $266 million at the worldwide box office. That kind of money may not grow on trees, but it certainly gives birth to sequels.
One of the reasons for the success of "The Expendables" is that it tapped into the baby boomer market with a different approach to the standard action film. It starred a group of aging action stars who caused the kind of movie mayhem normally reserved for studs half their age.
More important, it was Sylvester Stallone in another action film, which is exactly where movie audiences want to see him. Stallone hasn't always obliged that audience, and he told me in that interview four years ago that he regretted that.
"After 'Rocky," I should have been writing and directing my own movies, like Clint Eastwood, but I took a different route. I tried to be a more diversified actor, and I didn't realize that you are pretty much defined by your initial impact on this industry. After "Rocky," that's who I was. That's the role that the industry coveted, but I tried to fight it.
"I was being challenged by the media not to be a one-note actor, and then they vilified me when I tried to do comedies and other films that were outside my strengths. I don't know why the media does that to actors. They don't do it to athletes. You never hear anybody telling Tom Brady that he's a great quarterback, but then questioning how good a defensive end he is. No one expects him to play a different position. He does what he does well.
"I should have stayed where I belonged, in the action genre. Everybody has a niche. I shouldn't have been so damn artistically greedy. I thought I could run the table on all those different roles, which was self-destructive. I should have been happy to just be the action guy."
When you ponder Stallone's career choices, you have to agree that he should have narrowed his focus. There is some truly inspired work, but there is so much more that is downright silly. In fact, while compiling the lists below, it was so much harder to reduce the list of bad movies to only five.
If you don't believe me, play the game. See if you can confine the list to only five. For every "Rocky," there were too many "Judge Dredds."
Here are my favorite Stallone movies:
1. "Rocky" (1976)
2. "Cop Land" (1997)
3. "First Blood" (1982)
4. "Rocky Balboa" (2006)
5. "Nighthawks" (1981)
And now, my least-favorites:
1. "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot" (1992)
2. "Rhinestone" (1984)
3. "Judge Dredd" (1995)
4. "The Specialist" (1994)
5. "Driven" (2001)
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