Reprising his role as Rocky Balboa in Creed earned Sylvester Stallone an Oscar nomination — but the industry nod comes as bittersweet praise for the actor, who lost his son, Sage, to a heart attack at 36 in 2012.
Creed, which is a tribute to Sage, is the story of how the indefatigable boxer Rocky becomes a father figure to the son of his late friend Apollo Creed, and the star tapped into his painful past for the role.
Sylvester and Sage in 1990.
“Every time you can vent emotions that are real, I think that’s very helpful,” Sly, 69, tells Closer about his cathartic experience making the film. “Most importantly, I want to respect his memory. I think we did, so it was good.”
Sly wasn’t sure he was emotionally equipped to take on the challenge when Sage suddenly passed away shortly after writer-director Ryan Coogler first approached him with the project. “It took a while,” he says. “I really didn’t want to do it — I swear to you. It’s just too painful. It’s rough. There is no closure. There is nothing. The wonderful thing about acting is that it’s a release. I can take some solace in that.”
To read the full story on Sylvester, pick up the new issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now!