Move aside, Russell Crowe. No other action star has endured as much as Sylvester Stallone.

Estimated read time 4 min read


One recurring topic in director Edward Zwick’s excellent autobiography, Hits, Flops, and Other Illusions, is the significance of practical effects. In the case of his film The Siege, Zwick was able to temporarily close down Times Square and the Brooklyn Bridge to create a realistic atmosphere. He believes that if the film were made today, it would rely solely on CGI and lose something intangible.

It was unlikely that Zwick could have foreseen this, but coincidentally he made his statement during a time when many actors were confessing to sacrificing their physical well-being for the sake of preserving the intangible and pleasing their audience.

Earlier this week, we were informed by Russell Crowe about his experience of breaking both of his legs while filming Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood by jumping off a portcullis. In a similar vein, Sylvester Stallone has recently shared that, during filming for The Expendables, he suffered dislocated shoulders and a fractured neck which resulted in seven back surgeries, a metal plate in his neck, and spinal fusions.

In an episode of The Family Stallone, Stallone talks about a real scene in the movie The Expendables where he had to fight Stone Cold Steve Austin. He explains that while directing the movie, he foolishly did multiple takes of a scene and during one slam, he felt a strong impact. Steve Austin was aware of it and as a result, Stallone never fully recovered physically. He now advises others not to do their own stunts.

Bloody hell, Sly, get that looked at … Stallone in Rambo.View image in fullscreen

According to all reports, this situation sounds extremely unpleasant. The film The Expendables was released 14 years ago, and it is truly sad to think that Sylvester Stallone has been enduring such pain since then. However, one would expect that he would have learned from his experience. During the making of Rocky IV in the 1980s, as has been mentioned numerous times, Stallone was punched with extreme force in the chest by Dolph Lundgren, causing his heart to hit against his breastbone and swell dangerously. This resulted in him being hospitalized for over a week. One would think that this would be a clear indication to stop performing dangerous stunts.

Crowe and Stallone are not the only actors who have sustained injuries while filming. Renner suffered broken arms while working on Tag, Clooney hit his head during Syriana causing spinal fluid leakage, Caviezel was struck by lightning on The Passion of the Christ set, and Jackie Chan has endured numerous injuries throughout his career as a stuntman, with online listicles ranking his top 10.

There appears to be a competitive energy present, challenging us to evaluate actors based on the physical risks they are willing to take in order to entertain audiences. Currently, it is up to us to determine which injury, that of Crowe or Stallone, is more noteworthy, as other actors have yet to participate in this competition.

Jackie Chan.View image in fullscreen

The decision is challenging. On one hand, Crowe asserts that he managed to walk despite his broken legs without informing anyone, including producers or doctors. On the other hand, it is much more difficult to walk with a fractured spine. Stallone’s injury has required extensive treatment over the course of several years, while Crowe was not even aware that he had broken his legs until a decade later when he received an MRI scan. Additionally, the impact of the stunts should be taken into consideration. Crowe’s scene involving jumping over a portcullis was relatively minor and did not even make it into the fast-paced action montage at the end of the Robin Hood trailer. In contrast, in the Expendables trailer, there is a high possibility that at one minute and 50 seconds, viewers can see the exact moment where Sylvester Stallone injures his neck.

Who is the victor? Without a doubt, it is the movie viewers. Thanks to risk-taking actors like Russell Crowe and Sylvester Stallone on set, we are now discussing the events of two mediocre films released 15 years ago. Let us hope their daring escapades persist.


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