Sylvester Stallone Speaks Out About What Makes His ‘Tulsa King’ Role Different From Others

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Leisure Opportunities)

Sylvester Stallone is nothing short of action movie royalty. With roles like Rocky and Rambo from their respective eponymous franchises, he became an indelible part of cinema history and will be celebrated forever as a defining element of the action genre.

But while Stallone has a deep love and respect for these roles, he always hoped to branch out. His iconic characters have made him a symbol of the stoic, strong hero, but he always felt there was something missing from his filmography.

So when he got a call from Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan about a new crime drama in the works, it didn’t take long for the Rambo star to accept the lead role.

First of all, he was finally getting a chance to play a Mafioso, a lifelong dream. And second, the script presented an enticing opportunity. Rather than the silent, rugged heroes making up the bulk of Stallone’s legacy, his Tulsa King character, Dwight “The General” Manfredi, exuded personality.

In a recent interview with Brooklyn Magazine, Sylvester Stallone explained that, despite his talent for brooding characters, he’s never fully resonated with the Rockys and Rambos on which his career was built.

“It is the most liberating feeling because I never thought it was ever going to happen,” Stallone said. “I used to have to tell people that Rambo is a performance. I’m not really that monosyllabic, dark, and petulant. I really don’t talk like Rocky either. People always assumed that’s who I am.”

Sylvester Stallone Brings His Own Personality to ‘Tulsa King’

For Sylvester Stallone, Tulsa King presented a surprising challenge. Though he’s more than experienced in front of the camera, filming a TV series is far more strenuous than creating a movie. And the long days on set were just the first of the hurdles the Rocky icon had to jump.

Though it might sound counterintuitive, Sylvester Stallone says that playing a character similar to yourself is far more difficult than bringing one with a personality opposite to your own to life. “Dwight acts the way I act around my house with my wife and my daughters,” Stallone explained. “Being yourself is actually the hardest thing to do.”

That said, the results are well worth the challenges that come with his Tulsa King role. Playing Dwight Manfredi is a major accomplishment for Sylvester Stallone. But there is one drawback to bringing his true personality to the screen – if the audience doesn’t like The General, Stallone knows they probably wouldn’t like the real him, either.

“This one, finally, is liberating because it is who I am,” he said. “Dwight talks how I talk. This is how I roll. And I thought, let me just see if this works. If it bombs, then I know I have a sh–ty personality. If it works, great, because I’ve been a class clown my whole life, believe me. That’s why as a kid I went to 13 schools in 12 years. I’m very, very hyperactive and I thought I’d put it in this character to see if it flies.”