His struggles literally began at birth. Complications during labour resulted in partial paralysis of his left face, including parts of his chin, lip and tongue. As a result of these complications, he was left with his notorious snarling look and slurred manner of speaking.
Growing up in an area of New York known as ‘Hell’s Kitchen,’ a name derived from the neighbourhood’s poor and violent nature, he dealt with the constant fighting between his mother and father. As he bounced around from house to house, he was incessantly victimized because of his odd appearance and difficulty speaking. He received multiple suspensions from school, a result of poor grades, frequent fights and behavioural issues.
After a brief stint in college, He decided to move to New York to pursue an acting career. Auditioning for role after role, he constantly faced rejection from one casting crew after another. Effectively disenfranchised by casting agents, He decided to delve into scriptwriting.
Eventually, he ended up broke once again. Out of desperation, He heartbreakingly sold his beloved dog for just $50. Devastated, He somehow found the wherewithal to continue on. It was at this point that most would realize the need to find a job, any job that would provide some semblance of hope in destitution.
However, this was not his mindset. He somehow steeled his resolve and continued to look for work, once again auditioning for multiple roles in whatever casting call he could find. Despite of his valiant efforts, he continued to face constant rejection.
After continuously walking the frigid streets of New York, he wandered into a local library to warm up. Browsing the library’s shelves, he once again found the inspiration to write screenplay. To buttress his writing efforts and refine his style, he implemented various works of many famous authors. Through these books, He once again found much-needed motivation to venture forth despite his circumstances.
In 1975, after watching the Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner fight, he began to form an idea for a screenplay. Using this idea and an unprecedented surge of motivation, he wrote the script for Rocky in just three days.
With his script in-hand, he proposed the idea to multiple producers. All he received after numerous months of pitching the idea was more rejection. Pressing on, he eventually found one director that embraced the idea, Robert Chertoff, who would ultimately produce multiple award-winning films, including Raging Bull.
However, the studio that accepted the script, United Artists, was adamant in finding an A-list actor to play the role of Rocky Balboa. Needless to say, he detested the idea of someone else starring in a role that he tirelessly created. Despite their incessant reluctance, the directors eventually signed off on him playing the character of Rocky.
Rocky was given a miniscule $1 million budget, forcing the movie to accelerate production. This was made more difficult from injuries sustained by both he and Carl Weathers (who played Apollo Creed) during a fight scene.
Despite of these setbacks, Rocky managed to complete filming in just 28 days.
In its opening weekend, the film grossed over $5 million. When final ticket sales were counted, Rocky had produced $117 million at North American box offices. Overseas, international showings accounted for over $107 million in ticket revenue. Total ticket sales yielded a return of over 11,000% of the film’s budget. Rocky was the highest-grossing film of 1976 in the United States.
WHAT DID THIS MEAN FOR SYLVESTER Stallone?
He was nominated for Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay at the 49th Academy Awards – only the third man in history to be nominated for both awards in the same film.
In 2015, the movie Creed – the last sequel of Rocky – would result in hs first Golden Globe award and third Academy Award nomination.
Today, he has a net worth in excess of over $400 million and has appeared in more than 50 films, starring in most of them.
“I am not the richest, smartest or most talented person in the world. But I succeed because I keep going and going and going.”Sylvester Stallone