Pros: Jonathan Ross was the perfect person to chat with a big screen legend. Lots of humour and inspirational anecdotes interspersed with film clips kept it interesting. There was a Q and A opportunity at the end.
Cons: I would have liked a bit more chat – at about 45 minutes I felt like the surface was only just being scratched.
The evening opened with a montage of his big screen moments, which ignited the enthusiasm in the audience full of fans and fanatics. Then the man himself, looking sharp as a scalpel in tailoring, walked onto the stage to a standing ovation. Jonathan Ross was there to greet him and the conversation that followed was fairly predictable but really very interesting. They discussed his troubled childhood and how he was inspired by mythical heroes such as Hercules, in movies he would watch up to sixty times whilst skipping school. After watching films repeatedly, he would rewrite parts of the dialogue to pick apart the way it was constructed. This was his motivation to get into film and he went on to discuss making his movies and the big names he has worked with. Throughout the stories I was touched by the humility and self evaluation that Sly has learned through the ups and downs of a career spanning five decades. I was also amused by his humour – I found myself liking him a lot.
What surprised me most is that Stallone is not just a successful action hero, he is also a prolific screenwriter and acclaimed director. He spoke at length about how the desperation of being rejected for hundreds of parts and being completely penniless, led him to write a script that he could star in, and how Rocky Balboa was born. He talked about the dozens of scripts he has written that never made it off the page. He highlighted the skill of knowing your audience and crafting your protagonist to relate and engage them, using the different personas of Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and himself as examples. It was inspirational to listen to him talk about the writing process and the learning opportunities that failed movies brought with them. The inspirational rhetoric carried through the question and answer opportunity, which provided further entertainment as audience members proffered cringe worthy moments and further insight, one person prompting Stallone to break into a Shakespearean monologue!
So if you’re of the opinion that Stallone is all brawn and no brain, here are a few facts that might change your mind. He is one of only three people in history to have been nominated for two Academy Awards for the same film, Rocky (for best original screenplay and best actor), in good company with Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles. That film was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won three, and was also nominated for two Baftas and two Golden Globes. He wrote every word of every Rocky, co-wrote the Rambo series along with many other successful and not so successful movies. He is the only person to have had a number 1 box office hit in each of five decades. Whether you like the action hero genre or not, you have to respect the creative talent that is Sylvester Stallone.
Producers: Rocco Buonvino and Joe Ricotta
Booking Until: One night only.