John Rambo, Rocky Balboa, Lt. Raymond Tango – Sylvester Stallone has been an icon of cinema for almost 40 years, keeping his 80s troupe current with the kids through The Expendables franchise. Yet behind all his bravado, through the smoke of the explosions and amongst his gargantuan muscles, there lies a darker dramatic side.
Since 2005, Stallone has wished to direct a biographical picture on the late horror writer Edgar Allan Poe. Although comparisons between The Pit & the Pendulum and Rambo are not forthcoming, Stallone has always wanted to bring Poe’s life to the big screen. He admits himself that producers are a tad sceptical of the change of pace.
“I keep telling my producer Avi Lerner, ‘Make Edgar Allan Poe!’ He says, ‘Does he have a gun?’ ‘No, he doesn’t have a gun’, ‘Can he throw a knife?’ I say, ‘No, he writes poetry!’”
So, what inspires the man mountain actor/writer/director to tackle such a fascinatingly difficult individual?
“What fascinates me about Poe is that he was such an iconoclast. It’s a story for every young man or woman who sees themselves as a bit outside the box, or has been ostracised during their life as an oddball or too eccentric. It didn’t work for him either.
“His work was too hip for the room… but he developed the modern mystery story. He was also one of the great cryptologists; there were very few codes he couldn’t crack. He was just an extraordinary guy.”
Although Stallone’s ultimate idol is Leonardo Da Vinci as seen here, the Rambo star originally planned to take the lead role, yet it soon became clear that every man has his limits. In an interview with Empire, he said,
“I’m not playing Poe. ‘Yo, Poe!’ It won’t work! It’ll be some young actor because he dies at 39, but it’s gonna happen.”
That ‘young actor’ was destined to be Robert Downey Jr. for a few years as of 2010. The only quote by RDJ about the project is a simple:
“Stallone wrote a great script that he wants to direct about Edgar Allan Poe.”
Yet Stallone was much more complimentary about the Iron Man star:
“It has [to] be like Downey, I designed it for Downey,” he explained. “Perhaps I could re-work the script. [Maybe] Johnny Depp. It needs a very special actor like that.”
Yet, 8 years on from Stallone’s original plan – the project remains at ground level. Following the failure of Francis Ford Coppola’s Twixt and James McTeigue’s The Raven, it seems the lack of interest in the horror author is only going to push any possible production further back. However as Stallone continues to prove with his increasing number of action movies despite his ever increasing age, nothing is an impossibility.
“I do have a script that’s gone through 20 mutations. Every few years I take it out and rework it and update it…I will direct it, but it’s never gonna live up to the hype…No matter what I do it’s going to bomb, totally. When you’ve been talking about something for 30 years, it’s impossible [to live up to those expectations].”
So one day we may witness Sylvester Stallone’s Poe,” but for the mean time we’ll have to hold onto the joyous possibility of Nicolas Cage in The Expendables III.
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