(Written April 24, 2008)
So last night I was reading more of my new favourite book, The One Minute Millionaire: The Enlightened Way to Wealth, by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen, when I came across the story of Sylvester Stallone.
Admittedly I have never even seen a Rocky movie (though I have heard of the series) but I was interested to learn something about it and to see why this actor in particular would be featured in a book such as this. To my surprise, I instantly admired Stallone. As you will soon read and see for yourself, Stallone's ability to honour his own vision of the movie, despite external pressures to set it aside and trade his dream for cash, is incredibly inspiring for anyone who chooses to take the higher (albiet longer) road of authentic living.
So here is Stallone's story, straight from the book, as written by the authors on page 122 of THE ONE MINUTE MILLIONAIRE:
THE REAL ROCKY STORY
In 1974 Sylvester Stallone was a broke, discouraged actor and screenwriter. While attending a boxing match he became inspired by a "nobody" boxer who "went the distance" with the great Mohammed Ali.
He rushed home and in a three-day burst of creative output produced the first draft of the screenplay entitled Rocky.
Down to his last $106, Stallone submitted his screenplay to his agent. A studio offered $20,000 with either Ryan O'Neal or Burt Reynolds playing the lead character. Stallone was excited by the offered but wanted to play the lead himself. He offered to act for free. He was told, "That's not the way it works in Hollywood." Stallone turned down the offer though he desperately needed the money.
Then they offered him $80,000 on the condition that he wouldn't play the lead. He turned them down again.
They told him Robert Redford was interested, in which case they'd pay him $200,000. He turned them down once more.
They upped their offer to $300,000 for his script. He told them that he didn't want to go through his whole life wondering "what if?"
They offered him $333,000. He told them that he'd rather not see the movie made if he couldn't play the lead.
They finally agreed to let him play the lead. He was paid $20,000 for the script plus $340 per week minimum actor's scale. After expenses, agents fees, and taxes, he netted about $6,000 instead of $330,000.
In 1976 Stallone was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor. The movie Rocky won three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editing. The Rocky series has since grossed almost $1 billion, making Sylvester Stallone an internatonal movie star!
Follow your gut. Stick to your guns.