The “Rocky” story“Stallone was kicked out of agents offices over 1,500 times, but that did not stop him, because he was determined to succeed… How many of us would rethink our intentions after getting kicked out 50-100 times?” – Mani Masuria (Leadership Seminar 2012)
Sylvester Stallone (full name Michael Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone) went through a difficult birth, he was forced from his mother’s womb by a doctor’s forceps that had severed a facial nerve causing the lower left side of his face paralyzed, including parts of his lip, tongue, and chin. This accident had given Stallone his trademark snarling look and slightly slurred speech.
Stallone spent his first five years bouncing between foster homes while his parents endured a troubled marriage.
Stallone’s odd face made him an outcast in school, where he was often suspended for fighting, other behaviour problems, and poor grades.
Stallone’s father, a beautician, moved the family to Washington DC, where he opened a beauty school. His mother, a flamboyant woman who was a celebrity in her own right, opened a women’s gymnasium in 1952, called Barbella’s. The parents divorced when Stallone was 11, and he was later sent to a special high school for “troubled kids,” where he was voted “most likely to end up in the electric chair.”
Sylvester Stallone knew his whole life what he wanted to do which was to be a Movie Star. This is a guy who was predicted to be a criminal at best, with poor grades and a disfigured facial structure wanting not just to be on TV but to be in the Movie business, and be a Movie Star.
Now, Stallone had NOTHING going for him at the time, when he was growing up his own father used to say comments like, “Your not going to get into the movies so you might as well so some gymnastics or something and get paid doing that!” because he was not so-called good looking due to the ‘accident’ during his birth, but the most amazing thing about Stallone was his drive and passion to succeed NO MATTER WHAT…
Tony Robbins tells the story of Stallone’s struggles in the beginning, when Stallone initially went out to get a job, the auditions would not work out so well, as soon as the audition crew would hear him speak, they’d reject him.
Stallone stated, “They looked at me and said, hey you’re stupid looking, do something else, your never going to be a star in the movies… who’s going to hire someone who talks at the side of their mouth”
Stallone further stated he was kicked out of agents offices over 1,500 times, but that did not stop him, because he was determined to succeed…
Stallone’s first acting role:
Stallone once came into an agents office one morning, the agent saw him and did not call him in, at closing time the agent left, but Stallone was so determined to see the agent that Stallone stayed in the agents office overnight, and saw the agent the next morning. This is how Stallone got his first job, the agent wanted to show him a lesson so he cast Stallone in a movie for about 20 seconds appearance where Stallone’s character gets beaten up.
Then Stallone got a few other roles with similar short appearances and used as a punching bag.
The universe reciprocates – “Energy flows where attention goes”
Stallone become so poor that he once went into a library solely to stay warm, whilst in that library. Whilst trying to occupy his mind off the cold, he saw a book on the stories and poems of Edgar Allan Poe 1809 – 1849 (American author, poet, editor and literary critic) a book that someone left on the table next to where he was sitting.
Stallone became so enthused by Edgar Poe that he got out of himself (he got out of his own way) and realized his purpose to “touch and influence others” Stallone become a writer and started writing screenplays, and managed to finally sell an early day screen play called “Paradise Alley” for $100.00. It wasn’t much, but it was a start, Stallone was always a Solution Orientated thinker, he’d see that this was working so he’d work towards creating the same results.
Stallone carried on writing, but there was no imminent success and while he was writing there was no income coming into the household (no reports to confirm if his then-wife was working).
The ultimate test
Stallone’s wife at the time, asked him to get a regular job but Stallone refused, because Stallone knew that as soon as he’d get a job, he’d be seduced into loosing his hunger to become a movie star, and then his dream would just remain a dream. Stallone was so connived on his success that he burned as many bridges as he could to get to his success, which was his dream.
Stallone states, “I knew the only way I can do this, is if I had no choice and that I burned all the bridges I wanted to keep that hunger, but my wife didn’t understand my way of thinking and we used to get into vicious fights”
Due to poverty, Stallone embarrassingly pawned his wife’s jewelry to put dinner on the table and provide heating for the household. Stallone confirms “with that move, their relationship ended.”
Stallone had the one thing in the World that he loved dearly, being his dog, (the only soul that gave Stallone unconditional love). Stallone became so broke that he could not afford to feed his dog so we went and stood outside a Liquor store to sell his dog. He tried to sell his dog for $50- finally a man came and negotiated the price down to $25-.
Stallone felt so heart-broken about leaving his best friend and what his life had come to, that he broke-down and cried his heart out. Stallone states this was the worst day of his life, emotionally he had hit rock bottom.
Two weeks later Stallone saw a boxing match, it was Muhammad Ali vs Chuck Wepner, Stallone became so inspired with the thought of a “nobody” getting a chance at the title, he saw a guy in the ring getting bludgeoned and just kept on going surprising the Worldwide viewers. There was this one moment, where a nobody had stayed on his feet and knocked the Greatest boxer that the World has ever known down, it was within that moment that Stallone found his glory. Stallone, got an idea, and started working on writing a story script, this script was soon to be one of the most famous movies of all time, Rocky.
Rocky was born
Stallone wrote the entire movie script in the next 20 hours, without sleep and by the time he was finished, he was physically shaking with excitement. He knew this was somehow linked to his purpose, writing non-stop for such a long time and feeling excited in the end would amount to a feeling of fulfilling ones purpose.
Stallone, knew what he wanted and why he wanted it, he just needed to take the action on how he was going to deliver it!
Stallone went to sell his script to many agents who refused with various comments to him stating the words “Predictable story” “Stupid” “Sappy” Stallone wrote down all these negative comments in order to mention the same comments at the awards he knew he at the back of his mind that this was going to be a success.
“The greatest revenge is massive success!”
The test was not over, he was evicted from his apartment and found himself homeless for several days. He has also stated, that he had slept three weeks in the New York City Port Authority bus station prior to seeing a casting notice for a soft porn film. In Stallone’s words, “it was either do that movie or rob someone, because I was at the end …the very end…of my rope”
Finally, Stallone met with Robert Cartoff and Irwin Winkler who initially had Stallone in for an audition, but Stallone was not the best fit for the part, and on his way out, Stallone mentioned that he was writing a story of a fighter, like famous wrestler stories at the time, but this is for boxing. They became enthusiastic and called Stallone back.
They soon liked the script and offered Stallone $100,000 to sell the script and allow a different actor to star in the film, but he turned the offers down, Stallone was adamant that he wanted to play the lead role and that he was Rocky. They raised the price by increments finalising at $125,000.00, to either sell the script or forget the whole thing, Stallone left the office with his script.Question: How many of you would have sold the script at this point? Considering the fact that Stallone had no money, no career nor afford food for himself at that time.
Stallone, had the drive, determination and faith that he was onto a winner here… Why? Because he was living his purpose!
A few weeks later that Robert Cartoff and Irwin Winkler called him and offered him to come back, for another meeting. During this meeting they offered him $250,000.00 not to star in his own movie and to sell the script, Stallone turned them down.Question: How many of you would have sold the script at this point?
They then offered Stallone, $325,000.00, finally an amount of $360,000.00 for the script without Stallone to act in it. Again, Stallone turned them down, until finally they agreed to let Stallone himself play the role, and pay him $35,000.00 with the rest as an investment within the movie. Stallone agreed.
At this point, I am sure Stallone would have worked for free, because he had so much faith within himself and his purpose, it was bound to be a success.
At this point I wish to highlight something to my readers, Stallone did not think about the money, he thought about the task, the purpose more than the money. Stallone was thinking about how he may serve his purpose best. At this point it was his own acting in the movie, a movie that only he fully understood at the time. Only he would be able to project the character of Rocky to a point which would make this movie such a success. Stallone does not see him separate to his goal, he had already BECOME his goal. He was and is Rocky…
The first thing Stallone did after leaving the studio with his $35,000.00, he went back to that liquor store consistently for three days to buy back his dog. On the third day he met with the man who he sold his dog to and offered to buy back his dog, the man refused to sell him. Stallone begged and pleaded with the man, informing him of the reasons why Stallone had to sell the do in the first place and offered $100.00 to buy back his dog, the man still refused. Stallone then offered $500.00, $1,000.00, $2,000.00 the man kept refusing saying that he also adapted to the dog too. Ultimately, Stallone bought his dog back, it cost him $15,000.00 and a part in the Rocky movie.
That dog in Rocky, ‘Butkus’ thats Stallone’s real life dog and best friend. Now, many of you would be wondering why Stallone didn’t just buy a family of dogs from a pet store with the amount he had spent, but I can tell you from my own personal experience being a fellow dog owner, I would have done the same. My dogs are my life and soul, I love them more than I love myself at times, although the astonishing thing is, I know my dogs love me MORE than they love themselves ALL the time. I applaud you Stallone for such an act of recovery.
They spent $1M to make Rocky, and it grossed $200M. Rocky was nominated for ten Academy Awards including Best Actor and Best Original Screen play nominations for Stallone. The film went on to win the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Film Editing.
On the first day of the set, they said to Stallone, “Sylvester you ready?” Stallone replied, “No but Rocky is…”
Stallone’s belief, determination and persistence got him to where he is today, he took his Rocky script everywhere he went, Robert Cartoff and Irwin Winkler only saw his script because of an unrelated audition which Stallone did not get. Stallone recalls, “As I was walking out of their office, I just turned round and said to them that I have this script I wanted you to look at…” Which was the start of his dream manifesting into reality! Stallone states his greatest piece of advice is to use every moment as an opportunity to state your belief.
Stallone’s main objective always was to inspire people, to do the best they can, he wanted to use movies as a means of spreading his inspiration (evident in all of his movies if you had seen them). Using the median of movies he inspires people to go through tremendous challenges and overcome them, odds that appear so small at first, but with enough drive and passion these challenges are overcome.
I myself had and continue to receive inspiration from many of his movies, mainly Rocky. I’d be the first to inform you of this profoundness, I can workout in the gym for a certain amount of time pushing myself, but as soon as you plug sound-tracks of the Rocky movies into my ears… I get a whole stream of extra energy and drive, its my ‘audio-anchor’ to accomplish physical challenges. I sculpted my life, body and career the way I wanted it to be because of such inspiring personalities like Stallone.
Furthermore, Stallone started working on Rocky long before the character came into his script. Stallone was working on a painting which was like his dream character. This painting was almost like his Vision Board, he used all of his experiences, learning and memories throughout his life to construct this figure.
He then worked on himself to become that figure, not just physically, but emotionally as well as mentally. This was his ultimate piece of work, it was his birth right! Stallone first BEcame Rocky from the inside, then Rocky was born on the outside!
Moral of the true life Rocky Story
“If you have a passion and purpose to give something to the World, then go for it. The world will tell you many things, but this is all a test. The universe will test you to the point where its either your life or living your purpose. Don’t give up on yourself because when you are truly living your purpose, you are at your most happiest”