Sylvester Stallone was a young unknown in Hollywood when he starred in Rocky. Stallone had just about $110 in his bank account before his Rocky (1976) project got the green light from producer Irwin Winkler.
He had seven years of struggle without any success before finally making it big in the industry. Despite being offered $330,000 for a movie, he turned it down to star in the American sports drama film (ultimately earned him a weekly wage of $230).
For the movie, he even quit one of his bad habits, responsible for more than 480,000 deaths annually in the United States. Yes, right — it’s smoking. According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, besides more than 480,000 deaths per year, it also includes more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure.
The actor quit smoking cigars at thirty while filming Rocky when he noticed shortness of breath in the ring. No doubt, this decision significantly contributed to his improved health and career success.
Sylvester Stallone Once Used to be a Heavy Smoker
The Rambo actor was a heavy smoker earlier in his career and often smoked between takes in his movies. He says that smoking cigars helped him get into character quickly. Sly loved cigars so much that he kept a humidor stocked with his favorite cigars in his home.
Stallone’s passion for cigars was also highlighted in the Mar/Apr 98 issue of Cigar Aficionado. The actor believed that smoking is a private experience, and he often used to enjoy smoking cigars in the evenings, alone or with his close friend and fellow cigar icon, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But as he grew older, he quit smoking cigars for different reasons. Firstly, he thought it “kind of looked silly on adults,” secondly he soon recognized the harmful health effects of smoking.
Sylvester Stallone Inspired Many Smokers from His Movie
Not only in reality, but Sylvester Stallone set a great example of discipline in the movie too (by quitting cigarettes and inspiring many).
In the opening scene of the film, after the fight, Rocky steps out of the ring and lights up a cigarette, but he can’t stand to see 12-year-old Marie pull a cigarette, saying:
“What are you doing? It’ll make your teeth yellow, don’t do that. … It’ll make your breath like garbage.”
In the film, Rocky continues to smoke even after being chosen to fight Apollo Creed (heavyweight boxing champion and a rival of Rocky Balboa). He’s aware of its consequences, but his confidence has been chipped away over the years. But there comes a scene when, during a chat with Gazzo at a food stand, Gazzo takes a cigarette from Rocky’s mouth and tosses it, reminding him:
“You’re in training, huh? Come on!”
For Rocky, smoking wasn’t an addiction but a sin, which was a way to shorten his disappointing boxing career. But soon, he finds a new purpose and reason to live without cigarettes when training for Creed. While quitting isn’t so simple for many addicts, Rocky’s story can inspire many — not just athletes but also smokers looking to overcome their addiction.
Watch Rocky (1976) on Prime Video.