Sylvester Stallone says that God inspired him to write ‘Rocky Balboa’, the sixth movie in the Rocky series.
The Rocky concept has been an exceptionally popular creation spawning six successful Rocky movies together with the 2015 sequel ‘Creed’. The series made Stallone one of the best known actors in the world. He says,
“I was raised in a Christian home. I went as far as I could with it until one day I got out into the so-called real world. I was presented with temptation and I lost my way and made a lot of bad choices.”
Born in New York City, Stallone’s parents divorced when he was just nine. This contributed to his disillusionment with life and his poor performance at school. At the age of 24 he was sleeping rough at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and no longer living a Christian life. In desperation, he accepted an acting role in a soft-core porn movie for just $200.
“It was either do that movie or rob someone, because I was at the end – the very end – of my rope,”
Sylvester landed a number of minor roles before finally finding success with the 1976 blockbuster ‘Rocky’, which won three academy awards. It was the story of an underdog boxer who became an American hero.
The ‘Italian Stallion’ also hit mega-stardom with the ‘Rambo’ film series. From sleeping in a bus terminal to hitting the big time, a true-life rags to riches story, it sounds like the stuff of fairy tales. But there was a price to pay. Talking to Pat Robertson on The 700 Club, Stallone said,
“All of a sudden you’re given the keys to the candy store and temptation abounds, and then I began to believe my own publicity. There’s no question. I admit it. I just lost my way.”
There were two failed marriages, and by his own account, he was on a downward slope for 12 years until he finally had a prodigal son experience.
“Finally I realised it had to stop. I had to get back to basics and take things out of my own hands and put [my life] in God’s hands.”
This sudden realisation brought him back to his childhood faith in Jesus Christ.
Hollywood is a difficult environment for Christians, but Stallone is undaunted in acknowledging his faith in Jesus Christ, and he is open about his commitment to the church.
“The more I go to church and the more I turn myself over to the process of believing in Jesus and listening to his word and having him guide my hand, I feel as though the pressure is off me now. The church is the gym of the soul. You cannot train yourself. You need to have the expertise and the guidance of someone else.”
Speaking of the Rocky Balboa movie, he said,
“This is a story of faith, integrity and victory. Jesus is the inspiration for anyone to go the distance. You could compare his courage to that of David, who as the epic underdog defeated the giant Goliath in battle. It’s a metaphor about life. ”
He pointed out that the character of Rocky has a Christ-like foundation, adding that,
“Rocky is a humble man who believes in sacrificing himself for the good of others.”
Sylvester is now happily married to Jennifer Flavin, with whom he has three daughters.
Story by Ralph Burden
[Photograph of Sylvester Stallone by kind permission of Towpilot.]