Long known as one of Hollywood’s more prominent closet-conservatives – or at least, someone in Hollywood more conservative than, say, Oliver Stone – Sylvester Stallone, fresh off his success as Rocky in the sixth film of the series this past winter, Rocky Balboa, is deep in the middle of filming his fourth – and likely last – film based on Vietnam war veteran John Rambo.
The new film, which currently has a working title of Rambo 4, has Stallone as both the director of the film as well as the star. However, fresh off an Aussie drug bust in which the actor was caught with about 48 vials of performance-enhancing steriods, Stallone has decided to use a 30-year-old body double this time out. Stallone did not use a body double in Rocky Balboa.
The new film is expected in 2008, 20 years after the last installment, Rambo 3, was released in 1988. Back then, Stallone had just his his 40s. He is currently 60.
The eye-opening thing about Rambo 4, however, is that the ultra-violent mercenary is now being re-envisioned as a Christian warrior working for a group of missionaries as they spread the gospel and humanitarian aid in Burma. As unlikely as it sounds, keep in mind that a stronger religious theme played well to conservative audiences in Rocky Balboa. Making a similar shift of focus for the John Rambo character could be trickier, but Stallone has proven his mastery of market research with Rocky Balboa, which was pushed heavily in Christian markets and media; perhaps Stallone can go to that well one more time.