Sylvester Stallone Stars as a Mobster Starting Anew

Sylvester Stallone has dabbled in home-screen acting, but now, he's going all-in

Sylvester Stallone has dabbled in home-screen acting, but now, he’s going all-in

The action icon who made Rocky Balboa and John Rambo household names tackles a new character tailored to his style in Tulsa King, created by Taylor Sheridan (maker of Yellowstone and screenwriter of Hell or High Water). Sheridan and Stallone are also exec producers on the show with Boardwalk Empire alum Terence Winter.  Tulsa KingParamount+The project gives Sly his first ongoing TV role, playing Dwight “The General” Manfredi, who leaves a 25-year prison term expecting to be rewarded for his service and discretion. Instead, he’s exiled from New York to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he builds a new “crew” of his own from some of the diverse people he encounters. The ensemble includes Emmy-winner Dana Delany, Martin Starr, Max Casella, Andrea Savage, Jay Will, Domenick Lombardozzi and Garrett Hedlund. 

Stallone’s history with Tulsa King dates back to the start of his familiarity with Sheridan. “I met Taylor a while back, actually,” the actor says, “riding horses in California. I wanted him to write the screenplay for Rambo, because I was getting lazy. Anyway, we moved on. Then he became very, very successful with Yellowstone, and one day, he just had this idea [for Tulsa King], called me up and pitched it to me in, like, three seconds. And I went, ‘I’m in.’” Tulsa KingParamount+Playing such an underworld role has been “kind of a fantasy” for Stallone, he notes, “since I was rejected to be one of the 200 extras who basically stood behind a wedding cake in The Godfather. I’d been trying to get in gangster films, and it just never happened. Everything comes to those who wait. 

“Also, I wanted to play a different interpretation of a gangster,” Stallone adds. “This is a fellow who’s very educated . . . reads Marcus Aurelius, reads Plato. He’s into Machiavelli. He’s a different animal than you would normally see in a ‘gangster film.’” 

Long after landing TV jobs on Kojak and Police Story in the mid-1970s, Stallone made appearances on Las Vegas and (as himself) This Is Us. As he now shoulders his own series, he deems it “harder, faster and longer” than making a movie. Tulsa KingParamount+“You really have to be quick. You have to work out of sync a lot of times, with sequences that don’t follow the natural order of things. But most importantly, you have to keep your energy up. The amount of time we did 10 episodes is the equivalent of doing five Rockys in a row, with no break in-between. I have great respect for the crew in their diligence and endurance.”

Tulsa King premieres Sunday, November 13 on Paramount+