Sylvester Stallone will not be among those boycotting this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, but the 69-year-old actor certainly did consider it. Stallone won a Golden Globe last month for his performance as his iconic character, Rocky Balboa, and is considered a front-runner at this year’s Oscars. However, he was on the fence about attending the ceremony due to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that continues to surround the event. At Monday’s luncheon for the 2016 nominees at the Beverly Hilton, Stallone told Entertainment Weekly that it wasn’t until he spoke to his Creed director, Ryan Coogler, that he decided to attend.
“I remember I spoke with Ryan Coogler when this [#OscarsSoWhite controversy] happened. I said, ‘Ryan how do you want to handle this? Because I really believe you are responsible for me being here,’ ” Stallone said.
“Michael Jordan, every time I looked in his eyes as an actor, I said, he was making me better. I think he should’ve been given a lot more respect and attention. [Coogler] goes, ‘Sly, just go there, try to represent the film, and we feel you deserve it. Eventually things will change.’ “
Stallone then reiterated: “I said, ‘If you want me to go I’ll go, if you don’t, I won’t.’ He said, ‘No I want you to go.’ That’s the kind of guy he is. He wants us to go and represent the film.”
Sylvester Stallone is the only nominee for Creed. Director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan, both of whom are African-American, are believed by many to be two of the names snubbed when the Oscar nominations were released last month. Coogler’s first collaboration with Jordan, 2013’s Fruitvale Station, was also not nominated for any Oscars two years ago, despite many people thinking that it should have been. The #OscarsSoWhite controversy has been dominating the entertainment headlines since the nominations were released, as this is the second year in a row that no black actors or actresses were nominated in the lead actor, lead actress, supporting actor, or supporting actress categories. Stallone had no problem addressing the situation at the luncheon, and also praised the new efforts by the Academy to improve its diversity.
“Certainly, there is a universal law of existence. You either adapt or cease to exist. Adaptation and evolving were definitely necessary,” Stallone said.
“Eventually all talent will rise to the top. It’s just a matter of, I guess, a new paradigm and a new way of thinking,” Stallone said. “I really owe everything to these two young men, for sure.”
Part of that owing includes Stallone’s Golden Globe win last month, which was the first of Stallone’s career. An Oscar win for Stallone would also be his first. Stallone was nominated for the original Rocky film nearly 40 years ago in the lead actor and screenwriting categories. Although the film won Best Picture, Stallone himself did not receive an Academy Award. Four decades later, it’s even surreal to Stallone that he was back playing, and subsequently nominated for, a character he created so long ago.
“I never thought I’d be able to cross this threshold again.”
Stallone showing that solidarity with his Creed director and co-star was certainly a very respectable and admirable thing to do, but Sylvester Stallone does deserve to be at this year’s Oscars. Despite the controversy, Coogler showed great respect to Stallone as well by giving his blessing. If Sylvester Stallone does end up walking away with an Oscar on February 28, he probably won’t forget to thank Ryan Coogler in his acceptance speech this time.
[Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP]