“I was living on dog food at the time”: Writer of Sylvester Stallone’s Most Iconic Movie Made Jarring Revelation Before it Became an $818M Franchise

Writer of Sylvester Stallone's Most Iconic Movie Made Jarring Revelation Before it Became an $818M Franchise

With a career that spans over five decades, Sylvester Stallone has an impressive portfolio with a plethora of successful franchises. Though he has worked in a number of smash-hit films in his illustrious career, he is majorly famous for his phenomenal performances in the iconic sports film series, Rocky and the action series, Rambo. Playing these two roles has not only cemented him as a living action icon but also solidified his status as a legendary figure in Hollywood.

Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone’s portrayal of the Vietnam War veteran is one of the most iconic and evergreen films that viewers would never grow bored of watching. However, Kevin Jarre, one of the screenwriters of Rambo: First Blood Part II had a very difficult time as he was desperate to finish the script for the film because he had not eaten a decent meal.

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Kevin Jarre Wrote Rambo: First Blood While Surviving on Dog Food

Kevin Jarre, who was one of the screenwriters of Rambo: First Blood Part II told during the interview documentary, Tinsel – The Lost Movie About Hollywoodhow he came up with the story of the treatment of the Rambo films that was liked by Sylvester Stallone and the producers of the film.

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“I wrote the first draft of Rambo. And I just did it, I was living on dog food at the time and I, you know, I needed a gig and I wanted to finish a spec script I was writing. And you know, they called, Stallone called me in and they had this idea about what they should do in the sequel to First Blood and I said, ‘Well, how about if maybe he searches for POWs in Southeast Asia and back in Vietnam?’ He said, ‘Great, let’s do it.'”

Sylvester Stallone as John J. Rambo
Sylvester Stallone as John J. Rambo

The script was first written by James Cameron, he had worked on the script before the release of The Terminator and Aliens. While he had worked on the script, the Italian Stallion decided to make a lot of changes and decided to remove much of Cameron’s work. As a result, the final version of the script was extremely different from Cameron’s original version of the film.

However, when the Rocky actor played the role of John J. Rambo in 1982’s  First Blood, it was a massive success at the box office as the film earned $125 million at the worldwide box office, and the success led to the birth of a massive franchise that would feature violence with a gripping plot.

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Sylvester Stallone Was Not The First Choice Actor For Rambo

Sylvester Stallone has become a household name, and his performance in the Rambo film series has created an unshakable legacy in the movie industry. He found success with the Rocky films series, and after becoming an A-tier celebrity in the industry, he not only co-wrote the script of Rambo but also starred in the lead role.

Sylvester Stallone in a still from First Blood (1982)
Sylvester Stallone in a still from First Blood (1982)

The role of John J. Rambo became synonymous with him because of his lasting performance. To think that someone else could have played the role of the Vietnam War veteran feels extremely wrong. However, such was the case as Stallone shared in The Howard Stern Show, how the film’s producer went to Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, and Paul Newman before he bagged the role.

“I think they were going to lab animals before they got to me,” he said. “They went through every actor in the system and they eventually said, ‘Ok … De Niro … Nick Nolte, Zippy the monkey, let’s go to Sly.’”

A still from Rambo III
A still from Rambo III

However, Stallone did not have much hope for the film as he felt that First Blood would be a “career killer” for him because the film’s creative direction made him dislike working with them.

Rambo: First Blood Part II can be streamed on DIRECTV.

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Source: Tinsel – The Lost Movie About Hollywood

Written by Tushar Auddy

A voracious reader and a wordsmith at heart. Tushar is a student of Linguistics, who's always on the lookout for a good book or a captivating story. He has a passion for literature that runs deep and loves nothing more than getting lost in a novel for hours on end. When he isn't reading, you'll find him scribbling down his thoughts and musings, always eager to capture the beauty of language.