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Sylvester Stallone is widely known for his dramatic acting chops as much as he’s known for being an action star. But after so much work put into the industry, he once considered walking away from dramatic roles altogether in his old age.

Sylvester Stallone once wanted to show that he could do more than just action movies

Sylvester Stallone posing while wearing a blue and black suit.
Sylvester Stallone | Mike Marsland/WireImage

Stallone was once on a similar tier that actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger were. Films like Rambo and Rocky solidified the Oscar-nominee as one of Hollywood’s premier action heroes in the 80s. But Stallone didn’t want to just settle for action stardom. The actor wanted to prove that he was capable of a lot more range than others might have thought he had.

One of the ways he tried to break away from his action hero stereotype was by starring in the film Cop Land. The 1997 movie was a James Mangold-directed drama about police corruption, and saw Stallone starring alongside veteran actor Robert De Niro. For Stallone, this was an opportunity to show more of his acting ability.

“With Cop Land, I was at that point where again the criticism started to bother me, that I was a meat head – this despite Rocky only having six minutes of physicality and the rest just talking,” Stallone once told Empire. “I basically put up my salary to fund the movie because I wanted to prove the point that I wasn’t just a meat head. I wanted to work with really good actors, with all these wonderful actors. It served a purpose.”

Sylvester Stallone once shared why he no longer wanted to star in dramatic films

Stallone may have wanted to be seen as more of a dramatic actor in the past, but he would later change his mind. After reaching a certain age, Stallone felt there was very little need to continue starring in dramas. At one point, The Expendables star even found the idea of it pathetic.

“I’ve done my mind movies and I don’t think people are really too interested in seeing me do that anymore. I think I’m past my prime for doing dramatic films, it’s almost like a pathetic cry out to be recognized as a serious actor,” Stallone once said according to The Guardian. “I did my little moment, I’m very proud of Rocky Balboa and Cop Land but I would much rather just direct dramas than act in them.”

But it seemed since then Stallone would have a bit of a change of heart again. The actor would later star in a couple of drama films like Creed, which earned him an Oscar nomination.

Sylvester Stallone didn’t set out to be an action star


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Despite his reputation for being an action hero, Stallone never intended to be a star in the genre. Until the Rambo movies, he asserted that he hadn’t really appeared in too many action movies to begin with.

“I never set out to be an action actor, I was an ensemble actor. Rocky was an ensemble piece. Paradise Alley was an ensemble movie,” he once told Bang Showbiz (via Contact Music). “Then along came First Blood and that was the beginning of something unusual. Once all the dialogue was cut out it was a completely visual film.”