Sylvester Stallone starred alongside Henry Winkler and Perry King in the 1974 Brooklyn-based film The Lords of Flatbush. Another high-profile actor was supposed to play the role of David “Chico” Tyrell, but after some on-set tension with Stallone, the part was ultimately given to King,
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Prior to becoming the boxing icon Rocky, Stallone played Stanley Rosiello in the film set in 1950’s New York City. The coming-of-age flick focused on four teenagers in a gang called The Lords, played by newcomers Stallone and King, along with Winkler and actor Paul Mace. The Lords of Flatbush was rumored to have paved the way for Stallone’s legendary character Rocky Balboa as a tough guy with a heart of gold.
Up-and-coming actor Richard Gere was set to play Tyrell and had already started rehearsals on The Lords of Flatbush with Stallone. The Oscar winner revealed that Gere immediately rubbed him the wrong way.
“He would strut around in his oversized motorcycle jacket,” Stallone recalled in 2006, according to CinemaBlend, “like he was the baddest knight at the round table.”
Sylvester Stallone, Richard Gere, and the greasy chicken
With Gere choosing to remain in character even when the cameras weren’t rolling, he exuded a tough-guy persona a bit too much for Stallone.
“One day, during an improv, he grabbed me (we were simulating a fight scene) and got a little carried away,” Stallone explained. “I told him in a gentle fashion to lighten up, but he was completely in character and impossible to deal with.”
Apparently, tensions came to a head when the cast and crew were on location in Coney Island and Gere was being a bit careless with his lunch.
“We were rehearsing at Coney Island and it was lunchtime, so we decided to take a break,” Stallone recounted. “The only place that was warm was in the backseat of a Toyota. I was eating a hot dog and he climbs in with a half a chicken covered in mustard with grease nearly dripping out of the aluminum wrapper. I said, ‘That thing is going to drip all over the place.’ He said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ I said, ‘If it gets on my pants you’re gonna know about it.’”
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Push literally came to shove when Gere wasn’t able to keep his meal in tact, prompting Stallone to take action.
“He proceeds to bite into the chicken and a small, greasy river of mustard lands on my thigh,” the Rambo star said. “I elbowed him in the side of the head and basically pushed him out of the car.”
The scuffle prompted director Martin Davidson to make some casting changes, with Gere getting the boot from Brooklyn.
“The director had to make a choice,” Stallone revealed. “One of us had to go, one of us had to stay. Richard was given his walking papers and to this day seriously dislikes me.”
Clearly, the fallout between the two actors didn’t hurt their careers. Both Stallone and Gere are still considered box office draws despite their on-set spat.
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