Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are buds now. They even did a couple action movies together. The Reagan ‘80s were very different. Back then the two duked it out as the best of the best when it came to what the academic Susan Jeffords coined the era of “Hard Bodies” — action movies starring ripped, hulking behemoths who spent way too much time at the gym. Now, decades later, Sly is admitting Ah-nuld was king.
“The ’80s was a very interesting time because the definitive ‘action guy’ had not really been formed yet,” Stallone explained in the new Netflix doc Arnold. “Up until that time, action was a car chase like Bullitt or The French Connection, and a film all about intellect and innuendo and verbal this and verbal that.”
Movies like First Blood and Conan the Barbarian — both released in 1982 — changed that. No longer was an actor hero a slim stud like Steve McQueen or an Average Joe like Gene Hackman. John Rambo and Conan were towering he-men.
“You actually relied upon your body to tell the story. Dialogue was not necessary,” Stallone explained. “I saw that there was an opportunity, ’cause no one else was doing this… except some other guy from Austria, who doesn’t need to say much.”
Throughout the decade, Stallone and Schwarzenegger duking it out for the same audience. “We became incredibly competitive,” Stallone said. “Like [Muhammad] Ali and [Joe] Frazier, or great warriors that are traveling the same course: There was only room for one of us.”
Stallone acknowledged that despite going up for similar roles, the two actors had “different styles of acting”: While Stallone spent the ‘70s doing character-driven work like Rocky (which, to be fair, still required him to look like a heavyweight champ), Schwarzenegger was all about body-building. The latter’s big cinematic hit of the ‘70s was the muscleman doc Pumping Iron.
That said, far as the “hard bodies” style of ‘80s style of movie star goes, Stallone can now admit Schwarzenegger trumped him. “He was superior. He just had all the answers,” he explained. “He had the body. He had the strength. That was his character.”
Stallone even broke down the biggest difference between the roles they played. He was often cast as “the guy that’s not overly gifted,” who has to fight for his survival. “I had to get my ass kicked constantly, whereas Arnold, he never got hurt much,” he explained. “And I’m going, ‘Arnold, you could go out and fight a dragon and you’d come back with a Band-Aid.'”
But again, now the two are good friends, well past the era when one of them would trick the other into making one of his worst movies.
Arnold now streams on Netflix.
(Via Entertainment Weekly)