Sylvester Stallone acknowledged Arnold Schwarzenegger as the preeminent action hero, despite their long history of rivalry and contention.
“The ’80s was a very interesting time because the definitive ‘action guy’ had not really been formed yet,” Stallone said in the newly released Netflix documentary “Arnold,” per a report from IndieWire. “Up until that time, action was a car chase like ‘Bullitt’ or ‘The French Connection.’ A film all about intellect and innuendo and verbal this and verbal that.”
Stallone further expressed that Schwarzenegger was among the pioneer actors who shifted the focus of action movies towards the performer instead of the storyline itself.
“You actually relied upon your body to tell the story,” the “Rocky” star said. “Dialogue was not necessary. I saw that there was an opportunity, because no one else was doing this except some other guy from Austria, who doesn’t need to say much… He was superior. He just had all the answers. He had the body. He had the strength. That was his character.”
“I had to get my ass kicked constantly, whereas Arnold, he never got hurt much,” Stallone said of their different roles. “And I’m going, ‘Arnold, you could go out and fight a dragon and you’d come back with a Band-Aid.’”
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Schwarzenegger was very complimentary of his counterpart. “Every time he came out with a movie like ‘Rambo II,’ I had to figure out a way of now outdoing that. Without Stallone, I maybe wouldn’t have been as motivated in the ’80s to do the kind of movies that I did and to work as hard as I did. I’m a competitive person,” he said.
In an interview with Forbes last November, Stallone admitted that he and Schwarzenegger "really disliked each other immensely" during the 80s, a sentiment that persisted for two decades as their action movies perpetually vied for supremacy.
“We were… this may sound a little vain, but I think we were pioneering a kind of genre at that time and it hasn’t been seen since really,” Stallone said during the interview. “So the competition, because it’s his nature, he is very competitive and so am I… and I just thought it actually helped, but off-screen we were still competitive and that was not a healthy thing at all, but we’ve become really good friends.”
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