Dolly Parton Says Sylvester Stallone and a Flop Movie Helped Her Get Her Life ‘Back on Track’ After the Worst Period of Her Life

For many, a critically panned project may represent a career low point. Not for Dolly Parton, though. While her 1984 film Rhinestone was both critically and financially unsuccessful, Parton says she’ll always have warm feelings about the project and her co-star, Sylvester Stallone. Parton explained how her time filming helped guide her through an exceedingly difficult period in her life.

A black and white picture of Dolly Parton wearing a white dress and Sylvester Stallone wearing a suit.
Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone | Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Dolly Parton went through a difficult period for her physical and mental health

Shortly after working on her first film, 9 to 5, Parton became physically ill and depressed. She says that this was partly due to the end of an emotional affair.

“I’d never really been sick in my life until a couple of years ago, and then I was sick for 18 months to two years,” she told Interview Magazine. “It was brought on by a lot of emotional problems that I was having. I had to make a lot of decisions with a lot of people I had been with for years and years, and we were not helping each other emotionally. We did great business together, but it was just very hard.”

Her problems deepened, and she had surgery after nearly collapsing onstage in 1982. 

“I was going through a period of time that the nerves and the tension and the stress were actually what got me sick,” she explained. “So then it was like, which came first, the chicken or the egg? I just kept getting worse and worse and then I started having stomach problems, ulcers and intestinal problems.”

She says co-star Sylvester Stallone helped her through this period

Parton began filming Rhinestone while still struggling with her physical and mental health. Though critics and audiences didn’t love the film, Parton said it helped her, primarily because of Stallone.

“When I met him, I loved him instantly,” Smooth Radio reports that Parton said in 1984. “I think we just struck up a wonderful, lasting friendship.”

Looking back, Parton said that Stallone’s humor and friendship helped bring brightness into her life.

“Even though the movie didn’t do that well, that was one of my greatest projects,” Parton told Rolling Stone. “Because Stallone was so full of life and so crazy and so funny, and he made me laugh a lot, which was real healthy for me. That movie got me back on track.”

‘Rhinestone’ was a flop, but Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone had fun filming  

The movie may not have been successful, but both actors enjoyed working on it. Even Stallone, who didn’t like the finished project, said it was one of the best to film.

“The most fun I ever had on a movie was with Dolly Parton on Rhinestone,” he said, per Wide Open Country

He said he thought the movie would be more “down and dirty” than the end result. Still, he enjoyed working with Parton. 

“I’ll never forget, the first time I came in the door, she was dressed all in black and had a meat cleaver,” he said. “If you look around, there is so much absurdity, there’s so much fun, that we try to pull it out. I mean, you are the most absurd thing I ever seen, and I am sure I am the most absurd you ever [seen]”.

For her part, she said it was often difficult to make it through scenes with him.

“He had me laughing, I couldn’t even do my scenes – they just left my laughing in because I was laughing in places where I wasn’t supposed to. I was supposed to be acting,” she explained. “He absolutely tickles me to death. He’s a crazy person.”

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