First of all, look at this awesome picture above. Like an extreme action hero version of Where’s Waldo?, every corner includes a new detail, another shocking addition: Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford sharing a chair, Arnold Schwarzenegger leaning casually in a cowboy get-up. Kellan Lutz peeping in the back. Not to mention Wesley Snipes, Jason Statham, Kelsey Grammar, Dolph Lundgren, Antonio Banderas… and as Sylvester Stallone so hilariously put it on The Tonight Show, “Why’s Rocky wearing a purple coat?”
Of course, these action stars were not coincidentally hanging out. The Vanity Fair shoot was press for The Expendables 3, the 2014 installment of the iconic franchise which brought so many Hollywood favorites together in a modern and explosive setting. Despite mixed reviews, the Expendables films were all box office successes. It’s not hard to see why. All that talent in one room! But after so many decades in the business, it’s no surprise that these big names were coming in with loads of real-life drama. Between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone particularly, there was once “a violent hatred.”
Stallone Discusses His Feud with Schwarzenegger
Speaking freely, Sylvester Stallone explained to Jimmy Fallon the impetus of his hatred for fellow movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger. Naturally, they were competitive. Stallone gained fame portraying Rocky Balboa in his 1976 passion project. Just a year later, Schwarzenegger made is on-screen debut in the bodybuilding documentary Pumping Iron. Both hulking, muscular men would go on to rule the 1980’s. The Rocky series would continue as Stallone simultaneously starred as John Rambo in Rambo. Meanwhile, the young bodybuilder from Austria became known as the Terminator, an iconic role which continued in Terminator 2 and Terminator: Dark Fate. Schwarzenegger, with his unique accent and surprising comic chops, also ventured out from action movies in sweet films like Twins and Kindergarten Cop.
But Arnold Schwarzenegger’s newly eclectic success only worsened the contention with Sylvester Stallone. Schwarzenegger told Jimmy Kimmel: “In the ’80s, he was just a rival. It was all about who was making bigger movies, who had the bigger definition in the muscles, who had more box office success, who kills more people, who kills more people creatively, who has bigger knives, who has bigger guns.” So when Schwarzenegger became a more well-rounded star during the ’90s, Stallone had to step up his game. He chose to star in the (ridiculous) Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.
This constant one-upmanship kept both actors on their toes for many years. But sometime in the 1990s, both men put their differences aside and officially became friends. Speaking of the personal shift, Sylvester Stallone told The Economic Times, “Initially, you need a competitor, someone that you hate… because that’s what drives me.” The sentiment is very Rocky. It’s no wonder a screenwriter like Stallone — who created the epic rivalry of Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed — would find the cinematic lining in this complex relationship. But Sly and Arnie would not work together for many years. The first time they ever collaborated was in 2010, for The Expendables. Quickly, their friendship came to define shooting through playful, on-set pranks. After the first Expendables film, the legends teamed up again for the 2013 thriller Escape Plan.
Schwarzenegger Talks Pranking Stallone With Jimmy Kimmel
More recently, Stallone reprised his 80’s mercenary role for Rambo: Last Blood and powerfully revived the Rocky franchise with Creed and Creed II. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who served as governor of California for eight years, is also keeping busy. He underwent heart surgery in October 2020 and has been focusing on his efforts on environmental and political activism. Just last week, Schwarzenegger revealed a personal video message in response to Donald Trump and the assault on the United States capitol.