Sunday 12 January 2014

An Evening with Sylvester Stallone @ The London Palladium

Rocky. Rambo. Barney Ross of The Expendables.  Sly Stallone has made a career playing the 'tough nut', meathead action hero, known as much for his ripped body and unique voice as for his acting ability - being punched, thrown, shot at and blown up with alarming frequency.

It comes as a surprise, then, that in person he is such an articulate, charming and charismatic gentleman.  Interviewed by the ever-amusing and knowledgable Jonathan Ross, Stallone spoke candidly about his rough childhood in Hells Kitchen, the early inspirations behind his career and had plenty of light-hearted stories and anecdotes about his five decade long career as an actor, writer and director, from the beginnings of Rocky to poking fun at his rivalry with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Indeed, it's easy to forget what a successful career Stallone has had.  Not only did he write and star in his breakthrough movie, Rocky (1976), it received ten Oscar nominations and won three: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing.  Since then, he's starred in numerous action and non-action films and has directed and written sequels, originals and even a musical (Staying Alive).  Stallone is the third person in Hollywood history to receive two Academy Award nominations for the same film (after Charlie Chaplin and Orson Wells) and is the only person to have had a No.1 box-office hit in five consecutive decades.  Quite a career for a simple action hero.

As well as being treated to clips of his best work, including forthcoming films Escape Plan and Grudge Match (also starring Robert De Niro), the floor was eventually opened to the audience for a Q&A.  Stallone was met with rapturous applause from a crowd of adoring fans (some screaming perhaps too enthusiastically - this was a classy evening after all, not a pop concert), but he remained humble, perhaps overwhelmed, throughout.  Appreciative and supportive of his fans, he answered each question like a true motivational speaker.  Maybe that will be the next step in his career.

As the evening came to a close, Stallone became the first artist to be inducted live on-stage to the Palladium's Hall Of Fame, which was of course met with a standing ovation by the audience.  In this, Stallone joins the likes of Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Sammy Davis Jr.  It was a fitting end to an enjoyable evening celebrating the career of a cinematic legend.


Photos from Jonathan Brady/PA