Ray LoFaro had moved to Hollywood to try to get into films. He and I worked on a few things, a CHARLIE PARKER project and a STUNTMAN story. Ray was trying to take advantage of a huge, coming, stuntman movie by a major studio. That movie starred Peter O’ Toole.
I remember working on the script with Ray as I thought I was the director. A very important scene I wrote was a ‘pull the plug’ scene where the hero, after a promise between two friends, pulled the plug on machines that were keeping his vibrant buddy a vegetable.
Ray and I discussed casting and while thinking about casting, I saw an actor at my gym that had been in a number of television episodes that I thought would be interesting. Actually, I thought he’d be perfect.
I mentioned him to Ray and Ray asked what his name was. I was embarrassed because I didn’t know what his name was. I went to the gym every day, so it would be easy to find. What I found was his name was Sylvester Stallone, what I thought was a silly name. When I told Ray, he laughed. I thought he was laughing at the name. What Ray was laughing at is that I didn’t know that the guy had done a movie, ROCKY, that was the hottest thing in town and was going to be released later in the fall. So much for using him in STUNTS.
STUNTS was not to be for me.
Bob Shaye, one of the executive producers (the guys that get the dough) wanted to use his guy. This came as a surprise as I had been working closely on the script. What’s the cliché, ‘Money talks…’
Ray sort of avoided me for a while. Actually, a long while. Our Charlie Parker stuff went away as well after Richard Pryor ‘escaped’ the project. ROCKY had been released to well deserved acclaim and Stallone was brilliant, fresh and provocative. Of course, there were echoes of Brando, but weren’t there in every young actor?
STUNTS came out the following year, and of course, I went to see it. I’m not sure if Ray and I were speaking at the time. He may have moved back to New York. Of course, the film had none of the style I had imagined. I was particularly put off by the acting, especially the choices.
The ’pull the plug’ scene that I had put into the story was more or less thrown away. It was never understood properly as I wrote it as a symbol of the closed society of stuntmen and a theme that defined their relationships. My idea was a semi-documentary of the internal workings of this subculture, a bunch of guys and girls, loyal only to each other, and largely misunderstood. Somehow a strange subplot, a murder mystery, had emerged.
The only reason I remember this story is my belated ‘discovery’ of Sylvester Stallone.