Two Legends Talk: Rush Speaks to Sylvester Stallone

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BRETT: Do you know who recently moved to Palm Beach and who recently joined Mar-a-Lago? How about Sylvester Stallone. A man who was fired seven times once upon a time, talked to a man who spoke so poorly that no one would cast him in a movie. That’s right. Rush talked with Sylvester Stallone about the movie Rocky Balboa and teaches us life lessons here.

RUSH: Welcome to the program, Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa. Sly, I want to be honest with you, I didn’t know what was left to tell in the story. I’ve loved all these other Rocky movies but there’s been a long hiatus now, and I was stunned.

STALLONE: Thank you.

RUSH: You cover every demographic in this, I mean, looking at it from a production and marketing point. It looks like the first Rocky movie cinematographically.

STALLONE: Right.

RUSH: You haven’t gussied it up with a bunch of computer generated fireworks.

STALLONE: Technology, no.

RUSH: You’ve got life messages in this. It’s a movie for everybody.

STALLONE: Right, it’s PG. Well, you know, what had happened is a good friend of mine is Susan Faludi who wrote the book Stiffed a couple years ago, it’s about the diminishing and kind of like diluting of the American male in the workforce, and after, you know, almost World War II, and every generation it seems to get harder and harder for a man to express himself and we seem to be slowly being moved on this conveyor belt out before we’re ready to be moved out.

And it was kind of — I wanted Rocky to show that he still, as he says, has some stuff in the basement, he has a flame in his heart, and I think a lot of the American male feels that way. But society goes, “Nah, sorry, you’ve had your up at bat and it’s time to move on.” And I go, “Well, maybe you should move on when you’re ready to move on,” and if you’re willing to take the humiliation of sticking your head above the crowd, maybe it’s, you know, the pleasure will be worth the pain.

RUSH: Well, it’s an interesting thing you brought up here, basically the feminization of the American culture.

STALLONE: Right.

RUSH: Not just for men, you know, in their late years toward retirement or middle-age or what have you, but throughout. But, look, I think you highlighted this. One of my favorite scenes, because it’s so poignant with the way the culture is today, your son… I don’t want to give too much of this away, but the conversation you have with your son when he begs you not to take this last fight.

STALLONE: Right.

RUSH: Because he needs to get out of your shadow. And for him to do that, you need to go away. And what you say to him — and it’s not a long scene — just had me cheering. I have to be honest.

STALLONE: (laughing)

RUSH: I don’t cheer much at movies, but it had me standing up.

STALLONE: Thank you, Rush. Well, you know, I guess a lot of fathers and sons have sort of had this conversation in some incarnation, and I certainly have, and I think it’s an ongoing battle. It’s almost from biblical times of, you know, sharper than a serpent’s tooth, and finally the father has to say, “Stop, stop. You have to be accountable, son.”

RUSH: Is this the last Rocky movie?

STALLONE: Oh yeah, that’s why I used the name “Balboa,” Rush. I didn’t want a number attached because that would imply there was another one. (chuckles) But I felt so bad the way the fifth one turned out. I don’t know what happened. I was just off my game, off the mark, maybe it was my lifestyle, but I was not thinking for the audience. I was thinking maybe for myself.

And, you know, you have some downturns, careers have peaks and valleys, and I had a lot of time to think over the last ten-12 years, and I thought, “You know, if there’s one thing I’d like to remedy was the way that character went out.” All the other characters I could deal with, but that one really bothered me.

But the opportunity at that time, I was 53, and they said (chuckles), “It’s over, you know, the last one didn’t work. Plus you’re too old.” I said, “But this is a movie about being too old but willing to take the humiliation to try to remedy or, you know, right a wrong.” They said, “No, you’re just talking about yourself.”

I said, “No, I think there’s a lot of people out there that wish they could go back to that crossroad in their life and change something — and if not that, maybe they just wanted to do something to purge grief or rid themselves of some feelings and you need an outlet.”

RUSH: Now, you wrote and directed this. Is that part and parcel of the problem you had in getting it done?

STALLONE: Yes, yes, that, but more than anything else, it was age. You know, Hollywood, because we’re so in the limelight — you know, women, men — it just chews you up and spits you out, and now we have so many market outlets, you’re really on a fast lane. Before, you know, you had a star like Kirk Douglas, they would have a 50-year career. Now if you have 15, consider yourself lucky.

RUSH: Again, I’m tempted, I’m not a movie critic so I don’t want to give too much away here, but it’s a love story that women are going to absolutely adore.

STALLONE: Thank you.

RUSH: Fathers and sons are going to learn a lot from watching this. It’s a movie about staying true to your desires and going for it when everybody tells you that you can’t do it and shouldn’t do it. I mean, there’s a lot here.

STALLONE: I’m hoping that the Baby Boomers, my generation, come out and support the film because, if they do, and the film performs, that will be a message to Hollywood that, you know, there are 78 million of us out there. Let’s start making stories about us, that are age appropriate and more profound than just us being relegated to, you know, the angry father or the angry mother in movies, and bring our stories up to the forefront. (laughing)

RUSH: We’ll it’ll get the Baby Boomers out because the Baby Boomers think only about themselves and you’ve made a movie about them.

STALLONE: Right.

RUSH: But I really did enjoy it.

STALLONE: Thank you.

RUSH: I enjoyed it as much as any of these movies.

STALLONE: Thank you.

RUSH: I wish you the best with it.

STALLONE: You know what, you’re very kind. I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

RUSH: All the best. That’s Sylvester Stallone. I don’t do many of these screenings, but the ones I have seen and watched I liked, and this one was right at the top. The life lessons in this are well worth seeing.

BRETT: It’s incredible as I get older, as many of you get older — you know, as we live our lives — you start to realize that there are people who have come into your lives who have been around where you don’t appreciate their greatness. It doesn’t necessarily mean conflating fame with greatness, because I think for so many of us, we have a tendency to do that.

“Well, obviously you’re great because you’re famous,” or, “You’re famous because you’re great.” We just watched the Super Bowl played out, Tom Brady, you know, breaking all the bonds in terms of age and continuing to play at an elite level. You see it with so many sports stars and superstars, and we have this tendency to not so much appreciate the greatness that’s before us in front of us, but instead look for the next thing around the corner.

I think listening to Rush do this interview with Sylvester Stallone, you get that same sense. Rush was such a multifaceted talent. He had a great passion for politics. I mean, there’s no doubt about that. He also had a great passion for sports, for competition. He had a great curiosity on a number of levels, on a number of topics. He never wanted to stop learning.

I think that’s what’s so important to understand, that there are multifaceted stories for every one of us, and it’s important for us to take a moment and think about, “Are we performing at our best? Are we still continuing to get up and pursue it, whatever it is, whatever that dream is?”

As we get up every day with your feet hitting the floor, as Rush said many times on the program, are we getting out there and trying to surpass expectations, even our own expectations, even if they’re expectations that nobody may know about? Are we getting out there and doing it? I think that’s the great challenge in seeing Stallone go pursue this and chase this. I think it’s a hugely important thing.

Rush recognized greatness in so many people. I think it’s a remarkable thing to consider.

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