Sylvester Stallone’s Attitude Toward Guns on Film Sets Is Surprising

The average moviegoing public and Sylvester Stallone appear to have quite different opinions about John Rambo. The title character of “Rambo: First Blood Part II” and “Rambo III” became, during the 1980s, a metaphor for unstoppable American military strength because to their brazen, ultra-jingoistic attitudes. Rambo was frequently seen racing into gunfire-filled locations while unclothed, with heavy artillery slung over his body, shooting at everyone and everything that came into his line of sight.

This militaristic, ultra-macho interpretation of Rambo contrasts sharply with Ted Kotcheff’s 1982 original “First Blood,” which Stallone co-wrote. In that movie, Rambo plays a dejected warrior who has given up on life and is grieved by the deaths of his fellow soldiers. Rambo is subsequently abused by the local cops, which is shown as a symbol for veterans’ struggle, and he “snaps” back into military mode, sadly becoming a solider again without his choice.

Sylvester Stallone

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Sylvester Stallone

Stallone still seems to believe that Rambo is a wounded, tragic character who has been defeated by life and driven away from his native country rather than an unstoppable right-wing military warrior. In a recent interview with the Hollywood reporter, he expressed his opinion that Rambo is politically indifferent, adding “Rambo was considered to be a conservative. Rambo’s a Republican was the caption on a photo that President Reagan tweeted. I thought, “Uh-oh. Rambo is completely impartial.””

However, Stallone is far from impartial when it comes to the use of firearms on set, contending that even without ammunition, firearms are far too lethal to be handled carelessly. Possibly an odd viewpoint coming from a man who has shot more actors on camera than anybody else.

‘No One Has Shot More Blanks Than Me’

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Sylvester Stallone

There is some debate about which film currently holds the record for the most bullets fired on camera, but a quick internet search yields several notable titles. “Rambo: First Blood Part II,” Antoine Fuqua’s “The Replacement Killers,” Paul Verhoeven’s “Starship Troopers,” and many others have been mentioned, with “The Matrix” ranking near the top. However, between the Rambo films and the three “The Expendables” films, Stallone is likely to hold the record for firing the most personal shots.

Related video: Sylvester Stallone describes his reconciliation with his wife as a “reawakening.”

Stallone is not a gun supporter and feels that having firearms on set, even if they are blank, is a negative thing. He believes that filmmakers have progressed to the point where actual “muzzle flare” and bullet holes can be achieved with special effects. He bought a meat mannequin to see how dangerous things were. In his own words:

“No one has shot more blanks than me. On ‘Rambo,’ I wanted to show what a .50-caliber could do to a human being. We took a dummy and filled it with 200 pounds of beef. I thought, ‘When I fire, it will knock the dummy over.’ There were no bullets in the gun. It was just the force of the compression in the shell. But it turned the dummy into mist. It blew it apart. Then I turned the .50-caliber to a row of bamboo trees and it literally cut them in half. This is without bullets!”

The fourth amazing film in the series, “Rambo,” was released in 2008. During a horrific civil conflict, Rambo was paid to venture into the Burmese forests to rescue abducted American missionaries. Everything goes wrong for almost everyone.

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Sylvester Stallone

After a deadly shooting on the set of “Rust” — when actor Alec Baldwin fired a badly prepared pretend gun, accidently injuring director Joel and fatally killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins — the need of having working firearms on a movie set was brought into doubt. Even with safety checks, blanks, squibs, and extensive planning, fatal accidents can occur. One’s mind wanders to what could have been hundreds upon hundreds of “near misses” on film sets over the years, where prop guns came dangerously close to injuring someone. Stallone learned the dangers of prop guns not only from his meat mannequin experiment, but also from an accident on the set of “The Expendables.” He describes it as follows:

“I’ve had near misses. I’ve never said this before, but I had a pistol literally go off in my holster in ‘The Expendables.’ Bam! Right down my leg. I’ve used weapons that are incredibly dangerous at close range. I’m surprised I haven’t lost a finger or something. It was only a matter of time and I agree: With special effects, there’s no need to do this.”

When it comes to the depiction of guns in films, Stallone made no mention of a new or expanded ethic. He makes no mention of certain criticisms that gunplay is overly glorified in too many films. He does appear to express the explicit belief that if gunplay is to be featured in one of his films, there is no reason to have actual explosive shells on set. Modern SFX can now handle this, allowing crew members to remain safe on set.

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