Cinema legends Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger have been intertwined for more than four decades. Today, we know them as action movie icons who share similar legacies and an unbreakable friendship. Back in the 80s and 90s, however, their relationship wasn’t quite so sunny.
The pair first met way back in 1977 at the Golden Globe awards, where both up-and-coming stars received exciting nominations, Stallone for Best Actor and Schwarzenegger for New Star of the Year. Well, one thing led to another, and the night ended with Stallone throwing a bowl of flowers at Schwarzenegger.
From that moment on, the two developed a fiery rivalry, bordering on hatred for one another. In fact, their fervid competition only grew from that ill-fated night, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger battling for supremacy over the action movie genre for the next twenty years.
“We really disliked each other immensely,” Stallone explained to Forbes. “We were… This may sound a little vain, but I think we were pioneering a kind of genre at that time and is hasn’t been seen since really. So the competition, because it’s his nature, he is very competitive and so am I.”
At first, Stallone admits that he believed the rivalry helped their respective careers. Over time, however, he realized that the bad blood between them had reached harmful levels. “I just thought it actually helped,” he said. “But off-screen we were still competitive, and that was not a healthy thing at all. But we’ve become really good friends.”
How the Sylvester Stallone-Arnold Schwarzenegger Rivalry Led to a ’90s Flop
So, the Sylvester Stallone-Arnold Schwarzenegger rivalry stretched on for decades, but is there any one moment that can be pointed to as the peak? Well, a strong argument could be made for 1992.
You see, that was the year Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot premiered in theaters, widely considered Sylvester Stallone’s biggest box office disaster. What does that have to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger? Well, the wily action star may or may not have tricked his rival into picking up a flop.
According to both stars, the now-hilarious incident was the result of some careful strategizing from Schwarzenegger. He knew the movie was doomed to failure, but instead of publicly rejecting the role, he made sure everyone knew how much he wanted it. And Stallone fell right into the well-laid trap.
“He’s quite clever,” Stallone said of Schwarzenegger in a recent episode of The Jonathan Ross Show (via Insider). “He goes around town saying, ‘I can’t wait to do this film…’ I go to my agent, ‘Get that thing away from him. Get people options on me.'”
“I got it and I said, ‘What a piece of sh-t this is,'” he continued. “[Schwarzenegger] goes, ‘Ha ha ha!'”
Arnold Schwarzenegger has since confirmed the sabotage. “I read the script, and it was a piece of sh-t. Let’s be honest,” he explained in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel. “I say to myself, ‘I’m not going to do this movie…'”
“Then they went to Sly, and Sly called me (and asked), ‘Have they ever talked to you about doing this movie?'” he continued. “And I said, ‘Yes, I was thinking about doing it. This is a really brilliant idea, this movie.’ And of course, the movie went major into the toilet.”