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Sylvester Stallone rose to fame in the1970s with his iconic film Rocky that launched a blockbuster franchise. Professional bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger was also making a name for himself at the time, catapulting to stardom on the big screen in the early 1980s with Conan the Barbarian and The Terminator.

With both actors possessing a similar skill set, a fervent rivalry soon formed between the two actors that led to actual loathing.

Sylvester Stallone and  Arnold Schwarzenegger
Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger | LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images

‘The Terminator’ and ‘Rambo’ constantly tried to one-up each other

Though the two superstars are now close pals, their rivalry hit a peak throughout the 80s and 90s. With Stallone and Schwarzenegger both headlining high-octane action films, the True Lies actor described how their antagonism for each other kept growing.

“In the ’80s, he was just a rival,” Schwarzenegger told Jimmy Kimmel in 2019, according to The Wrap. “It was all about who was making bigger movies, who had the bigger definition in the muscles, who had more box office success, who kills more people, who kills more people creatively, who has bigger knives, who has bigger guns.”

Always trying to one-up Stallone, Schwarzenegger continued to push the boundaries on his action scenes.

“In the end I started running around with guns that were only mounted on helicopters or on tanks,” the former California governor revealed. “It was crazy. It was all out war.”

Sylvester Stallone ‘started to like’ the rivalry

In a 2013 interview with David Letterman, Stallone explained how their shared animosity toward each other actually helped further their careers.

“We had violent hatred,” Stallone told Letterman of the Kindergarten Cop star, as reported by The Guardian. “Have you ever had that, ever? Competition where you really had an arch enemy that kind of brings out the best in you. As Arnold would say, it really pushed you to accelerate.”

While he didn’t like the fact “that [Schwarzenegger] was on the planet, basically,” Stallone began to enjoy their rivalry.

“After a while, I started to like this competition, this one-upmanship,” the Rocky icon admitted. “He’d get a bigger gun. I’d shoot more people. He’d shoot more people. But then, he went into science fiction, which kind of left me behind.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone went from foes to friends

Joining forces onscreen in Escape Plan and the popular franchise The Expendables, the two A-listers have evolved to bestie status. Schwarzenegger commented on the change in the relationship in 2014.

“Finally, in the ’90s we became kind of friends, and ever since then we have been friends,” he said of Stallone, according to the Economic Times. “Initially, you need a competitor, someone that you hate… because that’s what drives me… We were mature and smart enough to say ‘let’s stop this,’ and then we started doing movies together and have had great time working together.”


Why Sylvester Stallone Called This Actor ‘Impossible to Deal With’

Schwarzenegger credited his drive and personal success to being resilient when experiencing setbacks.

“I always wanted to be at the best in everything I did,” the Commando star explained. “I have had many failures in life but what makes you a winner is when you fail, you get up and keep going towards your goal.”