Quentin Tarantino Once Called out Sylvester Stallone for Refusing to Kill off Rambo in ‘First Blood’

Sylvester Stallone might be popular for his role as John Rambo as he is for the Rocky franchise. But as many know, his first Rambo film, First Blood, was supposed to have a much different ending than it ended up having.

Quentin Tarantino was someone who wasn’t fond of this change, however, and proceeded to call Stallone out on it.

Quentin Tarantino once shared he wanted to do his own version of ‘First Blood’

Sylvester Stallone posing while wearing a suit.
Sylvester Stallone |Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Aside from Jackie Brown, Tarantino has mostly directed films from his own original ideas. But the filmmaker once shared if he wanted to just do a movie that he’d know automatically would be good, he’d make First Blood.

His version of the adaptation would be completely different from Stallone’s. For one, it would be more faithful to its source material.

“If I just wanted to make a good movie, that I knew would be good, I would take David Morrell’s novel for First Blood and do the novel,” Tarantino once said in an interview with MovieWeb. “Not the movie that was made out of First Blood. I would do the novel. And Kurt Russell would play the sheriff, and Adam Driver would play Rambo.”

Known for his dialogue himself, Tarantino had a lot of appreciation for the way Morrell wrote his own characters’ dialogue. However, in this stage of his career, it’s unlikely that Tarantino would actually adapt First Blood.

“Every time I read it, the dialogue is so fantastic in the David Morrell novel that you’re reading it out loud. It would be so good. But now I want to do more than that. But if it was just about to make a good movie, that’s out there,” he said.

Quentin Tarantino once called out Sylvester Stallone for refusing to kill off Rambo

One huge difference between Stallone’s Rambo and the original source material was the fate of its main character. Rambo doesn’t live in Morrell’s original novel. But Stallone ended up changing the fate of the character, which would go on to star in several franchises.

Stallone asserted he made this choice for both the tone of the movie and for its potential commercial appeal. But it wasn’t a creative decision that Tarantino agreed with.

“In the book, Rambo gets killed. I thought it was not the proper message. There had been close to 200,000 suicides by returning Vietnam vets. I said, ‘Why don’t we take him right to the edge without annihilating him?’ Quentin Tarantino said, ‘You’re a coward, you should have killed him!’ I said, ‘Quentin, you’re a lunatic. I want to do some sequels, brother,'” Stallone recalled in an interview with Maclean’s.

In a 2008 interview with Collider, the actor felt that killing off Rambo would’ve been the right thing to do on an artistic level. But Stallone was also interested in putting Rambo through a redemptive journey.

“It’s like you train a pit bull. Take a dog, turn him into a killer, now what do you do? You’ve got to put him down. What happens if that pit bull gets loose? And you realize it’s not as bad as you think. You can somehow redeem him. I thought that was more of an interesting story. Again, as Kirk Douglas says, ‘Not artistic, but commercial,'” Stallone said.

Sylvester Stallone turned down a chance to work with Quentin Tarantino twice

Although some actors might enjoy the opportunity to work with Tarantino, the Suicide Squad member rejected two of the filmmaker’s offers.

“The De Niro part in Jackie Brown. And Grindhouse, the part Kurt Russell did—I said, ‘There’s no way. I have two daughters, and this fellow, his hobby is putting teenagers in his car and smashing them into a wall. That’s not going to work,'” he said.

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