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Grudge Match Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone face off in the boxing ring

Throughout an actor’s career, there are highs and lows when it comes to their physical shape. If you’re an actor like Christian Bale, those moments can fluctuate with rather concerning frequency. In terms of Sylvester Stallone’s career though, those moments seem to have happened in their own time. Looking back at the Stallone film Grudge Match, one of three movies the star mentioned he was in his worst shape ever for, you can thank Robert De Niro’s figure for that particular instance.

During an Instagram session where Sylvester Stallone answered fan-submitted questions, the actor listed two other films he felt he wasn’t in his best physical shape for:

Cop Land, believe it or not. I thought I was in really terrible shape in Rhinestone because I was way too thin. I had to get thin for certain reasons and I overdid it. Same thing with the Grudge Match, I got too thin. Because I was much heavier than Robert DeNiro so I had to come down in weight to make it look plausible. And that was uncomfortable.

As both Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro had to professionally box each other in Grudge Match, they clearly needed to be in some sort of realm of on-camera shape that didn’t favor one too much over the other. Since De Niro was svelte to a certain degree during production of the 2013 comedy, Stallone needed to get down to that level as well.

Meanwhile, Sylvester Stallone’s performance as a New Jersey sheriff in director James Mangold’s Cop Land, Sheriff Freddy Hefflin, was supposed to look a bit stockier than the Rocky actor was used to inhabiting. While Robert De Niro was present for that film as well, it wasn’t exactly his fault in that particular instance.

With all of that talk about Sylvester Stallone’s worst shape, there was indeed room for the man himself to discuss what films saw him in the best shape of his professional life. Since these things seem to happen in threes, here’s the three-movie stretch that are examples of prime time Sylvester Stallone:

Best shape was Cliffhanger and Rambo 3, without a doubt. And Rocky IV. That’s it. They were almost jammed together but those by far were my primo years.

By Sylvester Stallone’s own recollection, the years between 1985 and 1993 saw him in fighting form, with some of his most well-regarded movies in that timespan. Although there is an interesting paradox, as while he was in his worst shape for Cop Land, Sylvester Stallone gave one of his best performances ever. Meanwhile, with his best shape years, Stallone happened to land the movie that still sticks out like a sore thumb on his filmography, Stop, or My Mom Will Shoot.

Is it better to have a horrible shape, but a fantastic performance, or a fantastic shape in a horrible movie? Only Sylvester Stallone, and anyone who’s walked in his professional shoes, would know for sure. For now though, Stallone is in a period of good health, and can be seen next in the film Samaritan, which is currently slated for release on December 11, 2020.