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Sylvester Stallone reveals the “biggest mistake” of his career

Sylvester Stallone’s rise to the top of Hollywood is truly extraordinary, a journey that reflects the grit, determination and ambition it takes to achieve the American dream. Going from rags to riches largely off his own back, the towering action hero, famous for roles as the resilient boxer Rocky Balboa and the machine-gun-wielding Rambo, thoroughly deserves his position in the industry as an actor, writer, producer and director. Brought into the world in 1946, Stallone endured a tricky start, with a troubled birth leading to the actor injuring several nerves, resulting in paralysis in parts of Stallone’s face that would result in his signature slurred speech. This didn’t hold the ambitious young drama enthusiast back, and in 1969 he would appear in his very first film role in Edmond Chevie’s The Square Root.

Enjoying further success through the 1970s in such movies as Death Race 2000 and Farewell, My Lovely, Stallone’s most significant victory came in 1976 with the release of Rocky, rocketing the actor to international acclaim. Winning three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Stallone’s movie became an American sensation, with the effort to create the boxing feature being as heroic as the protagonist’s own sensational story. The film undoubtedly remains the actor’s greatest-ever release, even after almost half a century, and several other iconic movies to his name, including First Blood and Judge Dredd.

While fans may love Stallone’s original take on the comic-book character Judge Dredd, the actor wasn’t quite as delighted with the 1995 flick. Speaking at a press conference to promote the sequel movie Rambo in 2008, the actor surprised audiences by commenting on the ’90s movie, stating, “The biggest mistake I ever made was with the sloppy handling of Judge Dredd“. Clarifying his position on the comic-book movie, he added, “It could have been a fantastic, nihilistic, interesting vision of the future – judge, jury and executioner. That [film] really bothered me a great deal”. Starring Stallone as a police officer in the distant future who has the power to judge, sentence and kill on-site, the film, directed by Danny Cannon, embraced the bombastic energy of action filmmaking in the 1990s but, when compared to its 2012 re-imagining, pales in comparison.

Highly disappointed with how it turned out, the actor adds: “With all the pop culture, that really bothered me a great deal. I thought it was a fantastic concept, but somebody has to take the fall when things don’t work – and because I was the most recognisable, highest profile”. Re-imagined in 2012 by director Pete Travis and screenwriter Alex Garland, Dredd is a fan-favourite among contemporary cinephiles for its frenetic comic-book violence and memorable cinematography. Starring Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby and Lena Headey, fans have long been requesting a sequel, with Lionsgate considering a move to make another movie about the Judge and Mega-City One.

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