Sylvester Stallone on Arnold Schwarzenegger Rivalry
Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, despite being close friends who co-starred in films like The Expendables and Escape Plan, didn't start off on such friendly terms. In the 1980s and 1990s, these action icons were actually competitors at the box office. Stallone openly acknowledged this rivalry in a 2022 interview, revealing that this rivalry was the root cause of the initial animosity between the two.
The era of producing action movie stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone from the 1980s is hard to replicate. Back then, these two dominated the box office with their powerful, star-centered action movies, showcasing a level of masculinity that has been unmatched by subsequent actors, despite the efforts of various studios. While one might expect their shared experiences to have brought them closer, Stallone revealed that it's precisely this shared experience that contributed to their occasional lack of camaraderie.
During a 2022 interview with Forbes to discuss his Paramount+ series "Tulsa King," Stallone expressed a sense of nostalgia when reflecting on his rivalry with Schwarzenegger. He highlighted how they managed to mend fences by collaborating on projects like The Expendables and Escape Plan.
He said, "We despised each other tremendously. We were... this may sound a little vain, but I believe we were pioneering a kind of genre at the time that hasn't really been seen since. So, because it's in his character, he's highly competitive, as am I... and I simply felt that helped, but off-screen we were still competing, which was not healthy, but we've become very close friends."
During the 1980s, Stallone asserted his dominance in the action genre through iconic movies like the Rambo series, as well as titles such as Cobra and Tango & Cash. At the same time, Schwarzenegger kicked off the decade with two of his most memorable action films: Conan the Barbarian (1982) and The Terminator (1984), with the latter significantly contributing to the intensification of his rivalry with Stallone. Schwarzenegger's trajectory as an action star continued with hits like Commando (1985) and Predator (1987).
Stallone stated of the pair's rivalry, "We couldn't stand to be in the same galaxy together for a while. We absolutely despised each other."
Currently, Stallone and Schwarzenegger have developed a strong friendship and working partnership. Schwarzenegger had a cameo in Stallone's 2010 film The Expendables, which marked the beginning of a franchise. He continued with reprising his role in two subsequent sequels. However, it's worth noting that Schwarzenegger had previously expressed that he wouldn't participate in The Expendables 2 if the franchise was no longer under Stallone's control.
Arnold Schwarzenegger an entertainment magazine at the time, "There is no Expendables without Sly. I would never do the movie without him, no."
Following the third installment, Schwarzenegger decided to step away from the franchise due to his belief that his character's development in the films was insufficiently explored or developed.
He expressed, "You know, I think the first and second ones were terrific. But, for the third one, I thought my segment was poorly worded... I didn't think I was worth anything in the film. By the way, I adore the franchise. I believe it's a fantastic franchise. I believe Sly has wonderful ideas for what he wants to do with it, and I think I'd do it if they wrote a very good script in which my character is extremely well-developed. If not, I will not do it."
Since 2022, Sylvester Stallone has been involved in the production of the Paramount+ series "Tulsa King," which premiered in the same year. On the other hand, Arnold Schwarzenegger's most recent appearance in the Terminator franchise was in Terminator: Dark Fate, released in 2019.