Douglas Thmopson - Author and International Journalist



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Stalone - Romancing The Stone

Sunday Mirror 3rd July 1994

They named him The Italian Stallion after Rocky which, of course, was a boxing movie. So, what's the next title for resurrected box office champion Sylvester Stallone with his sex-charged movie The Specialist"?

Maybe they'll simply call him Lucky. It will not be on our screens until Christmas but The Specialist is being talked about as the best present Sylvester Stallone will get this year. Or possibly any year. The movie, being filmed in the South Beach area of Miami, has attracted more paparazzi than Stallone's regular entourage of bodyguards, hairdressers, stylists and drivers. And that's a lot of Nikon. Stallone's co-star is Sharon Stone, who is also pneumatically built. Their sex scenes are being raved about by the producers in such ways they make Stone's antics in Basic Instinct sound tame.

"Sharon Stone is a big asset," says Stallone, who calls their first sexual encounter in the film, "an erotic explosion".
There was no screen rivalry between them, he says, but those on the set say there could have been some contest over who could wear the tiniest bikini briefs. A winner? Sharon Stone, they suggested, finally succeeded.

At 47, Stallone's body is bronzed by the Florida sun and so toned that just by smiling the muscles ripple. Talk of Stallone's physical well-being is echoed by a health-club instructor who recently watched him working out. "He's still incredibly fit for a man of his age, but he's shrunk at least three sizes. He doesn't have the body he once boasted about for his Rocky and Rambo films. Gone are the massive arm and leg muscles he used to show. Now he looks just like a regular guy who works out very often."

Friends of the star believe that Stallone's new leaner look developed because he stopped using muscle-enhancing drugs. It was revealed five years ago that Stallone was damaging his body with dangerous steroids. They claim that he was regularly injecting himself directly into his buttocks and muscles in his legs.

An American magazine quoted a close friend of Sly's as saying: "Sylvester Stallone was using oil-based steroids and injecting himself. He did this a few times a week in his bathroom when he got up in the morning. The steroids bloated the muscles and toned the physique that had already been firmed by gym work, weightlifting and exercise. We soon noticed a big difference in his physique. He left for Israel (for the filming of Rocky III) looking like Hercules on a good day." Rocky and Rambo were never conventional sex symbols but rather powerful action heroes. Romance was always a count of 10 or bursts of frenetic firepower away.

With the title role of The Specialist he will be firing on altogether different cylinders: "This movie is a foray into a genre that I've been longing to do for a long time - an erotic thriller.
"There's a great deal of difference between an action film and an erotic thriller. Obviously, I've kind of digressed at times and gone into comedy and lost audiences when I did it. The comedies I tried didn't work. Throughout my career I've tried, I've really tried. I try to take chances and I find there's resistance.
"Usually in everyday situations I consider myself rather humorous. I enjoy the absurd very much. The comedies I've done have not done very well. Either that's my failure or, more importantly, I think that the vehicle itself wasn't really suited to my personality. I think maybe comedy is best left to comedians and I'll stick with what I'm doing. I tried and the main thing is I learned from failure.
"Certain actors become like a product and when you go to a movie you expect a certain kind of result. The message I get is: 'If I want to go see a comedy I'll go and see Steve Martin - I don't want to see you. From you I expect something else.' And that's always Rocky, Rambo, Cobra. They relate to that
"This is what I am - why not make the best of it? I think I do fairly well in this genre. I understand it and I like the danger. I like the challenge it provides. Once you come to terms with something, once you accept what you are, where things are, then there's no real conflict."

Last year Sylvester Stallone enjoyed huge hits with Cliffhanger and Demolition Man - that futuristic fantasy earned $14 million on release, the biggest autumn opening ever in America -and the numbers are likely to be even more impressive with the box office combination punch of Stallone and Stone.

They really heat things up to the beat of  Miami music and several songs written for the movie by superstar Gloria Estefan. Stallone said: "This time I'm finally dealing with the erotic side of my personality. I play a man who lives in the shadows - he's a mysterious character. Even though he's an assassin of sorts he has an extraordinary code.

"But the movie is more about this man who leads a voyeuristic life, and this relationship he develops with Sharon Stone. He begins to do business with Sharon Stone over the phone. Her family was killed years ago and she wants revenge for that. He doesn't want to work with her because he feels something's wrong, but the way she speaks to him is so seductive. He becomes enamoured and he follows her. He goes into her apartment. He immerses himself so deeply into her psyche that when he finally meets her it's an erotic explosion.

"For this kind of film Sharon is it - the actress I would most want to act with. She has this genre, this particular mood covered, so I guess I made the right choice. Bette Midler wasn't available so we went with Sharon."

The last remark, or course, reminds us why Stallone should not do comedy. But he is at his most relaxed. He says the set of The Specialist has been the smoothest running of his career. He has not always been so fortunate with both his professional and private lives.
There were the two difficult divorces. First, from Sasha, the mother of his two sons Sage, 17, J and Sergio, 15, and then from that bosom-aiming Trident missile of fernininity Brigitte Nielsen. And then there was the recent unofficial "divorce" ending his five-year relationship with model Jennifer Flavin.

Stallone is a little like the Alan Clark of Hollywood; a man who on the surface appears to have everything but nevertheless seems to have a strange attitude to women. He likes them, but the relationships always seem to upset or embarrass him and end in trouble.
At present he is with former model Janice Dickinson, and they have a baby daughter, Savannah. And he has not only left some women behind but also escaped from California. Stallone has bought a sprawling white-brick-fronted estate in the Coconut Grove area of Miami.

"I think California, when I went there 17 years ago, had a lot of promise. But there has been a decline socially, morally and financially. More than that, the studio system is such that, unless you're in local TV or a struggling actor, there isn't anything that binds you to California, other than perhaps some close Mends.
"If you are looking for a different lifestyle Florida offers a great deal more than California. I went to the University of Miami in the late Sixties and Coconut Grove was a hippie colony.
"One of the glorious parts of coming back here is that when I left I wouldn't say I was a failure but my prospects weren't very bright. I was considered kind of off-beat and I was told by several people that my style and my physical attributes were rather limiting. So, actually to come back to the area and buy a home right next to the place I used to sneak into is amazing."
Sylvester Stallone appears to have reached this spot in his life and career where he can understand the need sometimes for compromise, for bottom line evaluations. Asked about the highlights of his career he's practical and straight-forward; "Rocky, of course. But perhaps the best performance that I've given which really came closest to my personality was the first one I ever directed, Paradise Alky. That didn't get recognition but it is the best thing that I think I have ever acted in.
"Cliffhanger was a very, very important film but it wasn't what I would call a real acting performance. You go through the motions. It was more of a physical display.
"With   The   Specialist   you have to pull it out because 80 per cent of it is looks and emotions and has to come out in the eyes.
"If you're really thinking about the situation, it comes across in your acting. If you're thinking about your lines and hitting your marks, then you're mediocre."

Steroids The Facts

Early in his career, Stallone (below left in Rocky III) used drugs, probably steroids, to bulk out Ms physique. Steroids are synthetic male hormones used to stimulate muscle growth. But sports doctor Tony Daly, medical director of the 1984 Olympic Games, warns: They cause sterility, abnormalities in the liver and high Mood pressure. The long-term effects can include liver and testicular cancer." The gym instructor who Sly was working out with says: "Steroids are used by bodybuilding fanatics. But it’s too dangerous. Once you stop, the muscles shrink back to their original size, or even smaller - the muscle fat turns to flabby tissue. Sly isn't the man he was." Last year he was rushed to hospital. His arm swelled to twice it's size and turned Woe as pain ripped through him. "I was scared to death," he says.

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