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Sly on Rambo!

Published January 23, 2008 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Lionsgate.
Rambo fans may be happy just to see their hero running through the jungle again, single handedly defeating armies. It's not quite that simple to Sylvester Stallone though. To bring John Rambo back in Rambo, he had to analyze his own character.

Sylvester Stallone Back as Rambo


"Just the ponderousness that comes with aging, the sense of weight, the sense of knowledge, knowing too much, the lack of naivety which happened in my life, sort of set the stage for me," said Stallone. "I wanted Rambo to be heavier, bulkier, that's why his first line in the movie is pretty negative. He's given up. He has nothing."

Not so much thought went into previous Rambo sequels, Stallone admitted. "The other Rambos I felt had a bit too much energy. They were a little too spry. I'm not trying to run myself down but there was much more vanity involved. Tank tops, it was all about body movement rather than just the ferocity and the commitment of what he was doing. This character to me is much more interesting. I like First Blood and I like this one, just like the first Rocky and the last Rocky Balboa. Everything in between was kind of trying to figure out what I should do."

In this adventure, Rambo grudgingly takes a group of missionaries up the river into Burma. He warns them it's a lost cause, but a woman (Julie Benz) somehow warms him up just enough. "About the girl in this Rambo, well, it was more of a love story in the first draft and I just thought it’s not right. I just thought instead that some people are born to be protective and his job is just to shepherd these people through this and get them out alive. Maybe in the end they understand how brutal this world is and it’s not this idealistic thing that we can all join hands and be a united world. It’s always going to be a conflict, and it does not go away. Peace is an accident, war is natural. It’s sad, and you may not agree with me but look at how much time it takes to make Peace and how in one minute you can make War. Rambo is trying to tell how she is to unrealistic, it’s going away and Rambo learned that the hard way."


Rambo Rambo


Shooting Rambo involved real battle and politics, as Stallone insisted on authentic locations. "The location scouting was truly hell. We had to go to places where we were not going to be so confrontational with Burmese agents that are all over Thailand and they're very, very sensitive to their image. Especially down in Mae Sai where people have disappeared. It's a serious situation. The Thais were very, very worried about their image so we decided to go up north to Chiang Mai, try to find something that would sort of be obscure to both of them. We wouldn't be in their faces but the locations themselves were so inland, sometimes we would have to use elephants to get inland. We spent days on the river."

So don't go thinking Stallone is just a pretty face sitting in his trailer. He went a little Rambo for real. "We couldn't afford to find extraordinary. In the mountains would have been great to go up to these areas, but just something that felt as though this would be Rambo territory, would be as rugged as his life had been and bleak, but also serviceable for some of the actors who I didn't want to put them through the kind of hell that they had to be put through. But it was a lot of work. It took four different trips back and forth. 18 hours each way is a lot of scouting back and forth, a lot of jet lagging. But we found, we were using these Karen natives that were showing us these very, very obscure areas that had never been seen before."

Rambo opens to theaters on January 25th.

For the trailers, stills and more movie info, go to the Rambo Movie Page.


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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Lionsgate.
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