Being a boxer is hard on the body, and even being a movie boxer requires you to be in incredible shape. Stallone began preparing for “Rocky III” as soon as he was finished with “Rocky II,” getting into the best shape of his life – he’s said that he got all the way down to a mere 2.6% body fat percentage. In case you don’t know, this is a staggeringly low number.
For a man of his age, five percent is an incredibly low amount. He would eat nothing but egg whites, toast, and fruit, and he trained almost all day, with jogs, weight training, sparring matches, more weight training, swimming, and sit-ups, six days a week. He got down to a hundred and fifty-five pounds – giving him a BMI of approximately 20.
Getting into the Ring for a Third Time
The same year “First Blood” came out, 1982, also saw the release of the third installment of the Rocky series, “Rocky III.” Once again, Stallone wrote, directed, and acted in the film, and it was once again a rousing success. In this film, Rocky had become the champ, but he had also let himself get a little soft.
Enter a new, vicious boxer Clubber Lang (played by a young Mr. T) who takes on Rocky to try and grab the title from him. In the first fight, Clubber Lang wins, which drives Rocky to start training with his old adversary, Apollo Creed, in order to get back in shape. Mr. T was hired for the role after winning the award “America’s Best Bouncer,” and the film catapulted him into the limelight.
Not a Critical Darling
While many people enjoyed “Rocky III,” the critical response wasn’t as sparkling as with the previous two films. There was plenty of praise for the action sequences and the soundtrack, but many found the screenplay weaker than the previous entries, even saying that the film itself was a little unnecessary – there was no big change to the characters other than Rocky getting complacent in his success.
Still, the public ate it up – it grossed almost three hundred million dollars worldwide, surpassing both of its predecessors. It was the fourth-highest-grossing film at the domestic box office and the second-highest-grossing film of the year worldwide. Its theme song, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor became a hit single and received an Oscar nom for Best Original Song.
A Big Flop
Stallone had turned into box office gold, but that didn’t mean everything he did turned out amazing. One really good example is a movie he directed in 1983, “Stayin’ Alive.” It was the sequel to the landmark film “Saturday Night Fever” from 1977. It was the only film that Stallone directed that he didn’t star in, and it isn’t fondly remembered – not by the critics, at least. It was universally panned by critics.
However, the movie-going public flocked to the film in droves, giving it the biggest weekend for a musical film ever at the time. Worldwide, the film collected about a hundred and twenty-seven million dollars. Despite getting such powerfully bad reviews, it was one of the top ten most financially successful films of 1983.
The Dudes in a Feud
Since Sylvester Stallone was now one of Hollywood’s biggest action stars, the only thing he had to do left was have a feud with another action star of the same caliber. That man turned out to be the Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. This rivalry went on for something like twenty years, and both men used tactics such as one-upmanship and subterfuge. Their hatred of each other began in 1977, when Stallone allegedly threw a bowl of flowers at Arnold at the Golden Globe ceremony.
These actors attacked each in the press, tried to outdo each other in their movies, and even sent each other terrible scripts to read, hoping the other would fall prey. Amazingly, THIS WORKED: Stallone starred in “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot,” which Arnold had said he wanted to do. It was a terrible movie, and Arnold was lying.