Al Pacino Nearly Snatched Iconic Role of ‘Rambo’ From Sylvester Stallone

Published 01/17/2023, 4:15 PM EST

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If there is one movie franchise that instilled a love for the sport of boxing in the hearts of non-sports aficionados, it will undoubtedly be the Rocky series. And Hollywood superstar, Sylvester Stallone, who essayed the role of the lead character and namesake, Rocky Balboa, is widely regarded as one of the best-loved onscreen boxers. However, Rocky Balboa was not the only iconic character that Stallone played.

He is also well known for playing the equally loved and celebrated character of the Vietnam war veteran turned all-around badass, John Rambo. These two characters defined Stallone’s career and catapulted him into Hollywood superstardom. It should be mentioned that Stallone was not the first choice for playing Rambo in the first installment of the series.


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Stallone came from humble beginnings. And even had to sell his dog before finding success in the Rocky series. He was basking in the success of Rocky III, in 1982, when the first installment of Rambo, First Blood, was released. Moreover, the movie directed by Ted Kotcheff was based on the 1972 novel of the same name.

The movie went on to gain a cult following. And fans took to their hearts the character of the troubled and misunderstood Vietnam veteran.

The series went on to spawn a franchise comprising four sequels. And went on to become one of Stallone’s most profitable ventures.

Sylvester Stallone was not the first choice for the role of John Rambo

While Stallone was also the co-writer for ‘First Blood’, He was not the first choice for the lead role. ScreenRant reported that Warner Bros. initially wanted to cast either Clint Eastwood or Robert De Niro.


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This was when the role was also offered to Al Pacino. However, he too turned down the offer. It was said that Pacino had suggested that the character ‘Rambo’ be more of a madman. But this was turned down by the makers. Which in turn caused him to lose interest in the series.


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After being turned down by multiple actors, Stallone went on to play the iconic role. It should be mentioned that Stallone’s performance was so sensational that fans would find it hard to imagine another actor playing Rambo.


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What do you think of Stallone’s performance in ‘Rambo’? Let us know in the comments below.

WATCH THIS STORY – Creed 2 is the least favorite movie of Sylvester Stallone in which he acted


Written by:

Joshua Ben Joseph


One take at a time

Joshua Ben Joseph is a Boxing writer for EssentiallySports. He started his career as an editorial cartoonist and holds a BFA degree with a specialization in Animated Filmmaking and Screenwriting from AISFM, Hyderabad. An avid lover of boxing history, Joshua believes his writing extends his lifelong adoration for combat sports.
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Edited by:

Shibu Immanuel