Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are two of the biggest movie stars of all time, and the definitive action movie tough guys of the 1980s.
While the two are friendlier now, there was a time when they were Hollywood rivals, constantly outdoing each other and vying to be the ultimate action hero.
But recently, Stallone made a surprising admission about his former rival.
With action series like Rambo and Terminator, Sly and Arnie changed the idea of what Hollywood action stars looked like in the ’80s. “The ’80s was a very interesting time because the definitive ‘action guy’ had not really been formed yet,” Stallone said in the new Netflix docuseries Arnold.
“Up until that time, action was a car chase like Bullitt or The French Connection, and a film all about intellect and innuendo and verbal this and verbal that.”
Stallone, 76, said that changed with his 1982 film First Blood, which introduced his John Rambo character. He says this new breed of action film relied more heavily on physicality: “You actually relied upon your body to tell the story,” Stallone said.
“I saw that there was an opportunity, ’cause no one else was doing this… except some other guy from Austria, who doesn’t need to say much,” he said, referring to Schwarzenegger.
Stallone and Schwarzenegger began an intense rivalry, with both stars competitively driven to outdo each other’s hits. While they were both on top, and are today both seen as legendary action stars, at the time it seemed like there could be only one king.
“Like Ali and Frazier, or great warriors that are traveling the same course: There was only room for one of us,” Stallone says in the doc.
While Stallone was intimidated by Arnie’s rise through hits like The Terminator and Commando, Schwarzenegger was equally driven to top Stallone.
“Every time he came out with a movie like Rambo II, I had to figure out a way of now outdoing that,” Schwarzenegger said.
“We were competing about everything: The body being ripped and oiled up, who is more vicious? Who is more tough? Who uses bigger knives? Who uses bigger guns? Sly and I were at war.”
In one instance, Schwarzenegger even used their feud to trick Stallone into starring in one of his worst movies: the comedy film Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot! Schwarzenegger pretended to be interested in the project and Sly took the bait.
“I had heard Schwarzenegger was going to do that movie and I said, ‘I’m going to beat him to it,’” Stallone told the Hollywood Reporter last year. “I think he set me up.”
“It’s 100 percent true,” Schwarzenegger confirmed. “In those days we did all kinds of crazy things to get ahead in our rivalry.”
But decades after their heated rivalry, Stallone made a surprising admission: Schwarzenegger was the better star.
“He was superior. He just had all the answers,” Stallone says in the documentary. “He had the body. He had the strength. That was his character.”
“He wanted to be number one,” Sly added. “Unfortunately, he got there.”
Despite their action star rivalry, Stallone says they were playing different types: Stallone played more fallible characters who would get their “ass kicked constantly,” whereas the former bodybuilder played more superhuman, indestructible heroes.
“He never got hurt much… I’m going, ‘Arnold, you could go out and fight a dragon and you’d come back with a Band-Aid,'” Stallone said.
Decades after the height of their rivalry, both actors have mellowed out and they’ve even become good friends. Stallone and Schwarzenegger have co-starred in films like Escape Plan and the Expendables movies.
“Arnold’s very wise and he loves to talk about philosophies which have got him to where he is,” Stallone told the Hollywood Reporter. “It’s good to talk to a man who actually has put his money where his mouth is, and he’s achieved that.”
He said they also enjoy “goofing around and being crazy,” and “laughing at the old times.” While both actors are now legends, they’re long past their days as Hollywood’s go-to action stars, and Stallone called himself and Schwarzenegger “the last two tyrannosaurus.”
“We’re the last two meat eaters, and there’s not much beef left out there. So we better enjoy each other,” Stallone said.
Stallone and Schwarzenegger are two of our all-time favorite stars, and we’re glad to see their old rivalry is in the past and they’re good friends now!
Do you agree with Stallone that Schwarzenegger was the true “number one” action star? Share this story and let us know your thoughts!
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