Talking action, part two
In part two of the latest Superstar to Superstar, MVP talks to Sylvester Stallone, writer, director and star of Rambo. The fourth installment of the action movie franchise hits theaters Jan. 25. Find out what happens when the United States Champion takes on one of the world's most famous action heroes in part two of the latest Superstar to Superstar. (Read part one.)
MVP: The motto, "Heroes never die, they just reload," where did that come from? Explain that for me.
Sylvester Stallone: We try to use some sort of metaphor, symbolism, like, "soldiers never die, they fade away," or "golfers never quit, they just lose their balls." It's just something that would get the audience a little pumped up because I am directing this more toward a younger audience. I learned people my age usually don't go to films anymore. They've lost the instinct to go out as much. Rocky Balboa was only successful because of kids between the ages of 18 and 28. I think you have to play to their imagination and present Rambo … even though he's old school, the wording in the advertising and the poster we've been using, which looks like graffiti street art, have to be more modern and step up to their sensibilities. It's all about the sizzle. If you take the presentation of wrestling, back, even 20 years, it looks primitive. So you've turned it into a show that automatically causes people to be excited by the anticipation. So we're trying to create anticipation with lines like that.
M: Well, I think you're doing a pretty good job, because there's been a buzz. A lot of Superstars in the locker room are talking about catching it. I'm looking forward to seeing it. But now I have one final question for you: MVP vs. Apollo Creed, who wins?
S: All right, I'll give you an example. First of all, you would be taken away for murder, most likely within, I don't know. However long it takes you to get across the ring, that's how long the fight would last.
M: You know what? I've got to tell you, and this is an amazing moment in time, because I've always felt that MVP is the greatest athlete on the planet, but to hear Sylvester Stallone -- Rocky, Rambo, just go down the line -- say that I would annihilate Apollo Creed just like that? That's all I needed.
S: It would be sad, actually, because if he were to fight you, the one thing he should bring is a spatula to scrape him off the canvas.
M: OK, well now, since you've said that, I have to ask the inevitable: MVP vs. Rocky?
S: I've got a feeling we're going to have the same predicament. (Laughs) You know, I learned my lesson. You think that you play the role long enough, and you assume, "Oh, I can compete with a professional." Well, I had that scenario set up. In Rocky III I decided I was going to use a professional athlete -- this is before Mr. T came along. The first fellow I brought in the ring, I brought in Joe Frazier. Joe Frazier got in the ring, and I'll never forget, he was wearing a green suit, he just took his shirt off -- he was wearing his street pants, his street shoes -- put on the gloves and again, within less than 30 seconds, he came across the ring and cracked me. He gave me four stitches over one eye. I was looking at the lights, I couldn't believe it. My fantasy was completely destroyed that you can last more than however long it takes a professional athlete to actually get to you, that's how long you last in the ring. That's how long it takes.
The next guy who came in -- and this was idiotic on my behalf -- was a fellow named Ernie Shavers. Ernie Shavers was sitting in the dressing room, and I saw him taping his hands, and he has a very high voice, and he goes, "Thank you, Mr. Stallone, for this opportunity. We'll get in there and spar a little bit." He was very cordial, and he had this really high voice. But I watched him tape his hands with air conditioning duct tape, and I'm going, "Oh my God." So he gets in the ring, and I'll never forget this, he hits me on the shoulder so hard that I capsize, go against the ropes, fall down to the ground, and I started to almost laugh hysterically, like when you hit your shin against a pipe. I never felt … I said, "Was there something in your glove?" Then his manager pulls me aside, and said, "Seriously, they don't know how to pull their punches." I said, "But he's not even trying hard!" He said, "Oh, we have trouble in the gym because he actually breaks guys' jaws off the hinges, that's how hard he hits." So I said, "He's out."
So I got a pansy like Mr. T. (Laughs) He was a vacation compared to this. And then I tried one more time, and I got in the ring with Roberto Duran. He stood in one spot, to prove a point, and every time I threw a punch, he would slip and bang me, and bang me, to the body, that the next day my arms were green and purple. I looked like bad cheese.
M: You picked three of the hardest hitters in the history of boxing.
S: Well I couldn't believe it. You think you can take it. Anyway, the moral of the story is a professional athlete, such as yourself, is such a force of nature that the normal human being has no concept of the power and the ability that you guys possess, and they're much better off outside the ring, observing your craft, rather than being a part of the show.
M: (Laughs) I think that I can speak on behalf of all the professional wrestlers on the planet by saying thank you very much for recognizing that. We appreciate that.
S: I love you guys, and I have nothing but the utmost respect. I'm telling you, pound for pound, you're the toughest athletes on the planet, bar none, and I've seen them all. No one can keep up your workload and the ability to absorb that kind of pain, and still perform night after night. You're just very, very special individuals, and I know that, and people who really understand sports know that. The ones that don't, they're the jealous ones and the naysayers, and they really have no clue, and they'll never be in that arena. They'll never experience the kind of excitement that you guys experience. They're always going to be the people with their noses pressed against the window, wondering what it is like to be great. Well, they're never going to know, but you guys are great.
M: Sly, thank you very, very much. I appreciate your time. I'll be in the theater, man.
S: Thank you. I'll be watching you, too.
M: I appreciate that. And you know what? Maybe, in the future, if the possibility ever arises, and if I ever find myself on a movie set working with you, I promise you, I promise you, I won't hurt you. You've got my word on that.
S: All right. That's a deal! I'm going to put that in your contract.
M: Do that, do that!
S: Thank you.
M: All right, thank you very much.
S: All right, buddy, take care now. Bye.