Escape to Victory: Sylvester Stallone stars in 1981 trailer
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Today, July 28, 2022, is the 40th anniversary of the release of the incredible film An Officer and a Gentleman. The romantic movie immortalised Gere as the hunky leading man of Hollywood – but a decade earlier his manners got him launched out of a movie.
In 1974 Gere was supposed to star in The Lords of Flatbush alongside Sylvester Stallone, in an attempt to launch both of their careers in one fell swoop. They were due to work on the movie alongside Henry Winkler, Paul Mace and Perry King.
But the two cinematic titans butted heads. Their rage-filled experience on set together began a brutal feud that lasted decades.
Stallone once recalled their interaction saying they “didn’t hit it off” on set.
He revealed in 2006 that he took an “immediate dislike” to Gere as soon as he walked on set. “He would strut around in his oversized motorcycle jacket like he was the baddest knight at the round table,” Stallone revealed.
And this disdain blossomed physically when they were filming a fight scene. Stallone remembered the brawl: “One day, during an improv, he grabbed me – we were simulating a fight scene – and got a little carried away.”
But the Rocky star was really sent into a rage during another interaction over a piece of chicken.
Stallone recalled their battle was all over some dirty jeans.
He said: “We were rehearsing at Coney Island and it was lunchtime, so we decided to take a break, and 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 aluminium wrapper.”
Stallone warned Gere: “That thing is going to drip all over the place … If it gets on my pants you’re gonna know about it.”
Gere reportedly flippantly replied: “Don’t worry about it.”
Of course, the inevitable happened.
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Gere bit into his chicken dish and a greasy, mustardy, glob of sauce flew into the air and pirouetted onto the thigh of Stallone’s crisp blue jeans.
Stallone remembered: “I elbowed him in the side of the head and basically pushed him out of the car. The director had to make a choice: 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.”
Their brutal feud continued years later when they attended a dinner party hosted by Elton John, and almost ended in fisticuffs over Princess Diana.
The Rocketman harkened back to the event in his 2019 autobiography “Me”. He described Gere and Princess Di as becoming “very taken with each other”.
But this didn’t sit well with Stallone, who – John suspected – wanted to win the affections of Lady Diana himself.
John wrote that his husband, David Furnish, found Stallone and Gere preparing to brawl in his hallway.
He said: “I think [Stallone] may have turned up to the party with the express intention of picking Diana up, only to find his plans for the evening ruined … It transpired that [Furnish] discovered Sylvester Stallone and Richard Gere in the corridor, squaring up to each other, apparently about to settle their differences over Diana by having a fist fight.”
Stallone then “stormed off home” while screaming: “I never would have come if I’d known Prince f****ng Charming [Gere] was gonna be here. If I’d wanted her, I would’ve taken her!”
The actor later responded to a question about this altercation on his Instagram account. He called the tale “a complete fabrication”.
The hard-man was later accused of starting a salacious rumour about Gere, as well.
Stallone noted in 2006: “[Gere] even thinks I’m the individual responsible for the gerbil rumour. Not true… but that’s the rumour.”
The rumour in question was that Gere had to be rushed to hospital after getting a “gerbil stuck inside his rectum”.
In 2008 Gere poo-pooed the outrageous rumour.
He said: “I stopped reading the press a long time ago. Lots of crazy things came up about me at first, especially from the tabloids. There is an infamous ‘Gere stuck a hamster up his bum’ urban myth.”
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