In 1976, Sylvester Stallone became a Hollywood sensation with his breakout role as the titular character in Rocky, a film following the early career of the fictional boxing legend Rocky Balboa. Though Rocky is technically a drama, it includes plenty of high-stakes in-ring action.
To say Sylvester Stallone did an incredible job making these action sequences appear believable would be an understatement. His work on Rocky was so impressive that it launched a career in action movies that has now spanned half a century.
Now, it can’t be denied that Sylvester Stallone’s indisputably “tough” look and presence contributed to his success in action films. However, the actor also holds a great deal of respect for the genre.
As anyone could attest from just one Stallone film or interview, his passion for action movies is undeniable. So much so, in fact, that when it comes to his films, Sylvester Stallone has never backed down from a physical challenge.
On the contrary, despite being well into his 70s, Stallone prefers to do his own stunts to this day. And though he has no regrets about doing so, his successful yet highly demanding career comes at a price.
Sylvester Stallone Reveals He’s Had Dozens of Surgeries
In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, the Rambo star revealed just how high that price has risen. While creating his close to 100 films, Sylvester Stallone has undergone an astounding 31 operations – and he’s not even sure that’s a full count.
To illustrate the reality of being an action star, Stallone equated filming an action movie to being a professional wrestler. In both cases, many fans believe that there’s no real risk – it’s just acting. For those doing the “acting,” however, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I love wrestling,” Sylvester Stallone said. “I love the mythic quality. People go, ‘oh, it’s not real.’ I say, really? Gravity is real. Jumping off the top rope or having 300 pounds landing on you, that’s real.”
“I feel the same way about action films,” he continued. “They’ve been submerged in sort of a dismissive sort of genre. Like, ‘Oh, it’s an action film.’ All I know is I’ve had maybe 31 operations due to action films. So I consider it very real.”
In addition to almost dying while filming a fight scene in Rocky IV, Sylvester Stallone has had countless stitches, torn muscles, and broken bones throughout his career. But the extensive scars have never stopped him from doing his own stunts.
Hilariously, Stallone once explained that it’s not a good movie unless he’s injured in some way while filming it. “I usually grade the quality of a film by the intensity of the injury,” Stallone explained at a press conference for Expendables 3.
“In this one I ended up really taking a fall on my back and ended up having some metal inserted in there. So if I’m squeaky, then deal with it. It’s not my shoes, it’s my back!”