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From Enemies to Friends – Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester ...

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone's feud to friendship timeline - everything you need to know about their rivalry and amity.

Hollywood’s favorite action heroes, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sylvester Stallone share a great bond of friendship. However, the bond of amity between the two was once used to be aloof and a far-fetched dream. In their prime days, the superstars were as much at war with each other as Stallone’s Rocky Balboa and Schwarzenegger’s Dutch were at war with a tally of antagonists. The feud first sparked in the 80s and continued for nearly two decades. 

Here’s the enemies-to-friends timeline of the Terminator and the Italian Stallion, right from the 1980s to this day.

When Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone met for the first time 

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In the year 1977, the 7x Mr. Olympia rose to fame in the Hollywood Entertainment Industry through his commendable acting flair in the movies Hercules in New York (1969), and Stay Hungry (1976). As he catapulted to stardom, the bodybuilder got nominated for the New Star of the Year award at the Golden Globes in 1977. Now, at the same award ceremony, Stallone’s film Rocky (1976) earned him a nomination for the best actor award. However, Sly lost the award, while the Austrian stood atop the podium after winning the New Star of the Year title. Following this, the Terminator started “gloating and gloating [about Rocky not winning]“, recalled Stallone.

Nonetheless, in the next category for Best Motion Picture, Rocky won the Cecil B. DeMille trophy. This time, Sly grabbed a giant bowl of flowers and threw it at the Terminator’s head. Thus, the mere familiarity turned into hatred instantly. 

via Getty

LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 26: Actor Sylvester Stallone and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger attend the WBC World Championship Heavyweight fight between Vitali Klitschko of Ukraine and Chris Arreloa at the Staples Center on September 26, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The beginning of the rivalry between the two Hollywood icons

After the Golden Globes fiasco, their rivalry took an incessant flight. From trading jabs at each other to engaging in verbal spats, the Terminator and Sly used every means to express their disdain for each other. “We couldn’t stand being in the same galaxy, even our DNA hated each other”, Stallone shared. Both icons were the dominant force of the action genre in the 1980s. Thus, the real-life rivalry turned into an on-screen competition, and the action superstars indulged in one-upmanship with each other. In a promotional event for his 1985 film Commando, the bodybuilder took a dig at Sly and stated, “I’d be angry at hearing my name mentioned in the same breath as Stallone’s. Stallone uses body doubles for some of the close-ups in his movies. I don’t”. 

Stallone marries Schwarzenegger’s ex Brigitte Nielsen

The Austrian first met Danish actress, Brigitte Nielsen on the set of the 1985 adventure movie Red Sonja. The protagonists started dating right after their first meeting. However, after a few months, the pair decided to part ways and they ended their brief relationship. The Danish model and singer then began dating the Terminator’s arch-nemesis, Sylvester Stallone, shortly after ending her affair with the Terminator. The couple married within months and appeared in two films together – Rocky 4 (1985), and Cobra (1986). Nonetheless, Sly and Nielsen announced their split in 1987 and ended their marriage of two years.

Schwarzenegger vs Stallone rivalry continued for a few years

The feud between the two continued for a few more years. In the 1988 film Twins, the Austrian’s character made fun of Rambo’s poster. Then in 1989, Sly responded to the bodybuilder Twins’ prod by indulging in a fighting sequence with Schwarzenegger’s look-alike in his movie Tango & Cash. “We were attacking each other in the press relentlessly. We called each other names and called out our weak points, and it was so competitive. It became so silly that all of a sudden it became a competition about who had the most muscular body”, the Terminator stated in an interview.

When the arch-rivals danced together and stunned everyone

In the year 1990, the Austrian and the Rocky actor finally decided to bury the hatchet once and for all. They astounded their fans by waltzing with each other at the 43rd Cannes film festival. “We danced the Waltz”, said the Terminator. He further added, “up until that point, we didn’t really hit it off well. We were very competitive and trying to derail each other at every angle and every possibility. And then, somehow, because we were working for the same company, we hugged at a party right about here. The Gipsy Kings were playing and we were holding onto each other and they said, ‘Do you want to dance?’ and he says, ‘Yeah.’ And so we were dancing, we were waltzing, around and around and around”.

Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sylvester Stallone launch the Planet Hollywood restaurant

In October 1991, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis joined forces with Earl Enterprises to open the first Planet Hollywood restaurant. The themed restaurant chain represented the Planet Hollywood observatory. More so, with the Terminator, Sly, and Willis’ hefty investments, Planet Hollywood opened in three more locations by the next year. The restaurant chain expanded its business domain in London, Southern California, and Chicago in 1992. The icons became the face of the project and appeared together at various endorsement events.

via Getty

HOLLYWOOD – DECEMBER 13: California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor Sylvester Stallone and actor Bruce Willis arrive at the premiere of MGM’s “Rocky Balboa” at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater on December 13, 2006 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

When Stallone lent his support to Schwarzenegger to run for the Governor of California

In August 2003, the Terminator announced his candidacy in the California recall election for the Governor of California. Interestingly, in his election campaigns, he also invited Sly as a gesture of goodwill. In an interview, Stallone asserted, “I personally think actors should remain actors, but I know he had blind ambition for that, so maybe it’ll work out for him”. Then, in 2005, the Rocky actor donated $15,000 to the Terminator’s re-election campaign and supported him throughout the recall elections.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone finally make an on-screen appearance together 

In 2010, Sly and Schwarzenegger collaborated on their first Hollywood project together. The icons shared the screen for the first time in the action-adventure movie, the Expendables, and left their fans to ponder over their incredible on-screen dynamics. Though Schwarzenegger made a cameo in the first installment of the Expendables franchise, he became an integral part of the film with his leading performances in the second, third, and fourth installments. Then, in 2013, the stars teamed up again for the action-thriller film The Escape Plan, proving they had finally settled their youthful differences.

via Imago

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone once rivals say that their rivalry has been healthy

Now-friends Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone often spend time together

Although the icons started off on a rough patch, the action superstars are now each other’s confidantes. Putting their past behind them, both the actors are now often seen together, either attending parties or on impromptu weekend meet-ups. Interestingly, last year, the pair celebrated Halloween together in the most intriguing way. They carved pumpkins and later shared tidbits of the festivities with their fans through their social media handles.

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Sly posted a heartwarming picture of himself with his friend on 18th October 2022, and captioned, “Myself and my great friend Arnold, @schwarzenegger spending time at his amazing office carving pumpkin heads for Halloween with Survival Knives!!! That’s what real ACTION guys do with their free time! Lol…”.

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From “couldn’t stand being in the same galaxy” to “myself and my great friend Arnold”, the Terminator and Rambo came a long way. Their rivalry is now a thing of yore and a source of endless amusement for Schwarzenegger and Stallone. As Stallone concedes, “we start goofing around and being crazy – just laughing at the old times”.

Watch This Story: From Terminator to Total Recall: Here’s Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic catchphrases

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