Sylvester Stallone on Being a Struggling Actor Before He Wrote, Starred in 'Rocky'

Sylvester Stallone said he was rejected for a role in "The Godfather."

ByABC News
February 24, 2016, 9:40 AM

— -- Before Sylvester Stallone starred in the Oscar-winning film "Rocky," he was an out-of-work actor who couldn't make ends meet.

"I couldn't even get casted as an Italian. I said, 'If there is one movie I can definitely get into, it would be "The Godfather" because there's a party scene and there's three hundred guests,'" Stallone said in an interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts for the ABC News special, "Journey to the Oscars."

"They said no," Stallone said.

Stallone then decided to take matters into his own hands and wrote the screenplay for "Rocky" in three and a half days. Though he said he was offered $360,000 for it, Stallone refused to sell the screenplay unless he could star as Rocky.

"I just didn't understand how the rules of life were played at that point but this character I understood," Stallone said.

The resulting film not only won an Oscar for best picture in 1977, but it also gave birth to a franchise and made Stallone a movie star.

This year, Stallone reprised his iconic role in "Creed," a revival of the franchise directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Michael B. Jordan. Stallone is nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor for "Creed," but he said he almost didn't take the role.

"I never wanted to do this movie. I thought sick Rocky is exactly what is so counter-intuitive to what the optimistic aspect of what Rocky really is designed for. ... If you're afraid of something, that's the commitment of the artist. That's his duty to pursue the unknown, to go some place where he's literally at odds with himself," Stallone said of deciding to take the role.

And nearly 40 years since his first Oscars appearance, Stallone said he is cherishing every moment.

"This is a really special moment in my life because there are not that many moments left. You know they are really getting very special," he said.

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