Just got off the phone with Sylvester Stallone

Seriously.  Sly and I talked about his upcoming movie.  OK, so it was really just Sly doing the talking… and it was a conference call with who knows how many hundreds or thousands of other people on the line, but it was interesting never the less for several reasons. 

Let me begin with some background:

Yesterday, out of the blue I got a marketing email from BuzzPlant (I’ve posted it online) inviting me as a so-called “leader in the faith and family community” to join Sylvester Stalone in a live conference call in which he will talk about his upcoming movie, Rocky Balboa.  It was kind of odd because it was sent to a bogus email account I had set up years ago that forwards to my main email address.  It must have gotten on somebody’s list that was purchased or rented by BuzzPlant.  I have a great interest in new, innovative marketing ideas, so I figured what the heck, at the very least it will be educational.  Plus the email promised some free promotional stuff.

The conference call was hosted by Paul Lauer, director of marketing for Motive Entertainment.  They did marketing for the Passion and Narnia movies.  Jud Wilhite, Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, moderated the conversation with Sylvester Stalone.

Sly talked about his motivation for doing the movie, a little about the parallels between the story and his own life, and about how the Rocky series has been a story of faith and overcoming your past.  He talked a little about his own spiritual journey and wanting to have a spiritual message in this movie.  It was interesting.

The obvious question, though, is: was this genuine?

Hollywood has done a 180 when it comes to Christian values in the movies.  The movie studios used to scoff at Christians and Christian values and constantly push the envelope of decency.  But with the tremendous success of The Passion of the Christ, Hollywood took notice.  OK, so maybe it wasn’t a complete 180.  It’s not as if the studio directors have all had a spiritual conversion experience and have stopped making trashy movies.  But at least they are paying attention to Christian values and realize there is a large audience for values movies.

Where it gets real interesting is how this collides with the latest trends in marketing.  Mass marketing is on decline.  The days when you could reach the entire country by doing a TV blitz on the big 3 networks is over.  Furthermore, people are increasingly skeptical of traditional advertising.  So marketing is going old school.  It’s going back to word of mouth.  I could write a whole series of articles about this trend and maybe sometime I will, but for the time being if you’re interested you can check out the book Applebee’s America by Ron Fournier, Douglas B. Sosnik, and Matthew J. Dowd

Anyways, the strategy behind this new old way of marketing is to create a buzz by giving opinion makers a sneak peek and some free stuff in the hopes that they will tell their friends, family, co-workers, or blog audience 😉 about whatever it is they’re marketing.  So, that’s what this conference call was all about – creating word of mouth buzz among Christians.  They even created a whole website at RockyResources.com to further propell the social marketing of the movie.

The optimist in me would like to believe that Sly is genuine about his faith (he certainly sounded genuine on the phone) and the movie studios are genuinely trying to produce movies that support and uphold my Christian values.  The skeptic in me wonders if Hollywood has gone from scoffing at Christians to using us for their own financial gain.  Maybe it’s a little of both.

What do you think?  Post a comment and share your thoughts.

About the author

Paul Steinbrueck

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.


  • Well Paul, wouldn’t it be great to know that Sly is kingdom bound? As for the Hollywood moguls, I think they’re in it for the money only and they’re going to tap us if they can.
    I don’t go to the movies anymore and actually really never did. I ‘ve always had to work.
    Since Directv is now my antenna I watch movies for free only when there is a Stars free weekend. But there is usually some sexually explicit scene involved. I’m all for good clean movies. I don’t see why they need that junk in there in the first place. We all know what happen in the world with out the constant refresher courses.
    If Sly is going down the good road with his movies, then praise God for that.
    I hope he does and then maybe more “star power” will get on-board.

    Hollywood on the whole may never truly change it stripes, but if they give us good stuff to watch that will be good for them and us.
    God Bless the USA!!!!

  • I believe Sly is sincere. I don’t think he would allow anyone to associate something that is not above board or what he believes. I think he is just realizing that “what we do for Christ will last”

  • I believe that all these movie stars are a big joke. Come on, Mel Gibson for one doesn’t even believe that “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not parish but have everlasting life”. He believes that if you are part of the Catholic Church that you are going to heaven or if you at least have good intentions in your beliefs that you can make it to heaven. Then he just recently made a huge DRUNKEN scene in public. Come on. It is hard for me to believe anyone in Hollywood, including old Rocky, really is a child of the King. Matthew says that by their fruits we will know them, no by their acting. What have they done for Jesus. Even if they make a “clean” movie, does that automatically make them a Christian. If so, I guess we have to throw out Ephesians 2:8,9.

    Lets get serious. What makes us Christians? Is it not faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins, was buried and rose again. Or is it making some kind of moral statement? What does the Lord’s Word say? Or are we trying to make the Scriptures accomodate our emotions?

  • I agree completely with T.J.M. I hope Sly has become a christian but we cannot say that he’s a christian based on emotions created by his movie. Being a christian is a lot more.

  • Judge the fruit, Jesus said by our actions the world will know. It is the actions that will either affirm our faith or condemn us. Watch and see then we will know. If the actions are faith full we will give God the Glory.

    • When I became a christian I am grateful that I had a Bible believing church to go too. Thats where we grow as christians. And read the Bible. My views on life did not change right away old things are becoming new. We all grow at different rates.Hollywood has been so powerful .We need to realize that the devil has used this to influence many people in altering their thinking .As for mr stallon, he appears to be sincere, but with good bible reading etc he may grow as a christian wait and see.

  • At least you’ve had fun over the “conversation” with S.S. And we can pray for Hollywood, and those who are truly born again, that they can make a diference in their world. We can name some who have: Pat Boone, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, etc. Thanks for listening.

  • Well, he is an actor–but God uses both good and bad to get His job done. So it is in God’s hands. I do hope and pray that Sly’s motives are good, in Jesus’ name, AMEN.

  • I heard Mel interviewed quite a bit when the Passion was coming out and I never heard him mention or asked about John 3:16. His heart seems sincere to me, but that is for God to judge. I do believe in John 3:16 and I do know that we all for short and that we are all sinners, except Jesus Christ Himself. Alcoholism is a disease and having to deal with it EVERY DAY in my family is something I know about what Mel’s family goes through. It is the most baffling and most difficult disease to understand and yet society promotes it all the time. Alcohol kills more people and families than any other thing in this world and they still keep serving and over serving everyday. I do believe that it took a great deal of faith for Mel to make the Passion and the testimonies I have heard and the spiritual warfare that was fought is amazing, yet he made it thru with his faith in Jesus Christ. Hearts were won to Christ because Mel was obedient in making the movie. I also pray that Sly was sincere and knows the Lord Jesus as his personal Lord & Saviour.

  • I think the above answers are quite well put. I would only add: Forget not that the NWO has a very religious side to it, as does the antichrist. Let us not be fooled.

  • I can only pray that Mr. Stallone has found the true love of JESUS CHRIST in his heart and lfie. However as I am not one to judge. i will be praying that whether he has or has not accepted Jesus in HIS heart that others will see the REAL MEANING and hear words that GOD would have them hear. How ever the message of the plan of salvation gets out. BE it billboard, poster, tv, a witness, a pulpit, or yes even a movie that draws people in to hear it….. let the word of salvation through JESUS CHRIST be heard. In accuracy as the BIBLE spells it out.
    Just my humble opinion.
    Thank you, you sis in Christ name, MsBeej

  • I think that Kathy Morris is missing the point. Mel Gibson was never asked about John 3:16 because he believes salvation is in his religious affiliation. Therefore, it would be impossible to believe John 3:16. As far as alcoholism is concerned, I would just like to say something for people to think about. The Lord's Word says that we are not to drink in access. If we do something that is against the Lord's Word, is that not sin? We have become so accepting of sin that now we want to call it a disease instead of sin. Sin is sin, no matter how we as sinners want to look at it. Society may be accepting of it, churches may be accepting of it, but if God says it is sin, who are we to say "no, it's not". I believe that we are to pray for others, try to restore the fallen brethren, but not become numb to what sin is.

    As far as Sly Stalone, Mel Gibson, etc. I truly believe that if they are saved people, then they would not be in Hollywood for the fact that Hollywood is the largest promotor of, yes you guested it, sin.

    You see, at one point Christians were close to God and far away from the world. The world went farther away from God and the Christians equally went farther away from God, but not any nearer to the world. The state in which the world used to be, is where the Christians are now. Still not any closer to the world, but much farther away from God. How sad! Let us get our minds cleared, focus our eyes and look at Jesus. Can you see Him? Need a telescope? or is He right there with you? Long distance relationships are so difficult, lets try one that works, up close and personal.

    • there is a fine line between seeing a person as he/she is, or does, and judging…and it is NEVER our place to judge…that is in the Word…and, we do not go to Church, we do not accept salvation, because we are GOOD ENOUGH…we do so because we NEED the Lord…i need Him as much as Sylvester Stallone does, as much as Mel Gibson does…if i say otherwise, i lie…because there is only one perfect man, and that is Jesus

  • TJM – You said:

    “I believe that all these movie stars are a big joke.”

    You really believe there is not a single Christian in the movie industry? Or were you perhaps exagerating a bit? What about someone like Kirk Cameron:

    “I truly believe that if they are saved people, then they would not be in Hollywood for the fact that Hollywood is the largest promotor of, yes you guested it, sin.”

    Are you suggesting Christians should concede the entire American media and entertainment industry to unbelievers? Wouldn’t that approach guarantee all music, TV shows, and movies be anti-Christian? That seems counter productive to me.

    What about Jesus command that we are to be salt and light to the world?

    I would suggest you google “Christians in Hollywood” and look at the evidence of Christians who are trying to make a difference for Christ in the entertainment industry.


  • It is nice to have such a wonderful guy on the net. I think he is to be trusted. and as a rider to that, it will be nice to have such figures as Sly who are christians in hollywood to be brouth to public notice for christian audience. they can serve as source of encouragement for many especially those of us who watch them just on screen- I MEAN IN MOVIES. Their presence in Hollywood has to make a remarkable difference in the kind of influence that that media organization has had on the world. they are better be true christians or let us know if there is any christian in hoolywood.Help us to be able to coverse with these people once in a while. It will be a moral boost to us too. thanks for the Idea.

  • I guess nobody is familiar with, a little leaven, leaveneth the whole lump.
    I never said every actor was not a Christian, just speaking in general.

    By the way, Kirk Cameron tried by making those Left Behind, but those were just fiction, lots of things were not even close to what the Scriptures says.

    Anyway, back to the purpose of my response, we are to live in the world, but the world is not supposed to be in us. You let a little leaven in, the Bible says, it will corrupt you. Is God’s Word not telling us the truth?

  • I do hope that Sly has come to the saving grace of God and it is Gods job to judge their hearts. We need to pray for them and take them at their word and watch for the fruit.

    When it comes to opinions such as TJMs, it bothers me deeply. I work in the Hollywood crowd and in the film industry and I know without a doubt that I have been saved by the blood of my Lord, Jesus.

    So if a little leaven, leaveneth the whole (thats if you let it become your life)then why are you on the internet, because it is mostly used for PORN and child abusers. Or if you beleive it is not, you lie to yourself. So crawl into a hole and hide till the second coming or go into the world and yell from the mountain top ( or the HOLLYWOOD sign ) Jesus is Lord. I will do the latter.

  • Its very heartening to see the responses, glad to see people have hung to their faith in the Master. Faith is what making you and me write these messages, otherwise which would have been dismissed as ‘just another forum’. Passion of the Christ was an eye-opener, its success was due to the mass realization or search for the truth. It shook Hollywood, as God always did when things got too far…and Hollywood is such a wretched place with absolutely no sense of morality. Its good to see that Sly is atleast considering a spiritual theme to it….which could change lives or make people think about their lives. God bless mankind….In His precious Name.

  • Christians SHOULDNT BE in Hollywood!!!!
    Really thats like saying Christians shouldnt be in Africia because it is a country that practices witchcraft!!!!!!!!!
    Jesus sat and talked with sinners on a daily basis. What would you have said if you were living in Jesus time and he forgave the women at the well…would you have said, “Sin is sin and Jesus should have never talked to her”? The Bible is timeless therefore it can and should be applied to living today.

    Let his fruits show his faith. We have NOOOOO business or place to judge S.S.
    Wouldnt it be interesting if there was a camera in your home that showed your every move and sin that you committed…WOULD Christians still call you a Christian or would they say, “A CHRISTIAN WOULD NEVER DO THAT”?

    Read Stephen Baldwins book “The Unusual Suspect”, and that will give you a great prespective on Hollywood Christians. By the way Ravi Zacharias backs his book!


  • I do believe Mr. Stallone is genuine as Michael Landon Jr is as well..

    Some people in Hollywood are in the acting, writing and directing business.. But whatever business your in does not mean you can not and do not believe..

    Mr. Stallone has had a lot of hardship in his life and does not adversity bring us closer to our Lord?

    I have been his latest movie and thought it was wonderful.. It teaches us there is a better way.. through Faith and Values.

    Being an Actor and a Christian in a place like Hollywood is a great place and a good forum to be able to witness to others and draw them closer to god..

    I stand by Mr. Stallone I do believe he is faithful to Christ and Is a Christian..

  • I think anyone out there who is going to judge Sly should stop for a moment and think about this… Whoever is without sin can cast the first stone! Before the room empties, remember that being a part of God’s Kingdom has nothing to do with some religious experience (ie. quoting the sinners prayer and then going on with life as if nothing has changed). It has to do with a deep and private relationship with God. From what I have read, Sly has a private relationship with God that appears important enough to him to stick his neck out into the very public world — and share his faith! I speak Peace & Blessing into your life brother Sly! God is our only judge — not some bloggers who cannot see inside a man’s heart.

  • So, I’ve heard that Sylvester Stallone is a Christian, that’s great. Who are we to judge if it is real or not. God knows the heart and that is what matters. The best thing we can do as Christians is to lift him up in prayer, to be strong in Jesus and be the witness that we are all called to be. God does not take lightly when we say we are followers of Christ…I pray that Sylvester grows in Him each day. If we took the time we spent on gossiping (which is a sin by the way) and spent jit on prayer for everyone then we’d accomplish more. I’ve found in my walk with the Lord, that people believe what they want to believe whether it is right or wrong this includes Chrisitans. Prayer is the answer, get you focus back on the Lord and not on man. Pray for Hollywood, though it all the unsaved may get right with Jesus and if you doubt Sylvesters’ conversion, then pray for him too. It is a heart issue – I’ll leave that up to the Lord. By the way, he see’s your heart and mine too, are our motives right….love ya in the Lord…Peace

  • First of all, God has clearly stated that He, and He alone truly knows the heart, so before we all go off the deep end casting doubts and stones at every celebrity that claims Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour, we need to check our own hearts first; by the word of God.

    Secondly anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ, must be received as such until proven otherwise, “you will know them by their fruits”.

    Thirdly and finally, we must not interpret a persons struggles in the faith as a lack thereof, or “bad fruit”, but rather instead of spewing out words of self righteous doubt and condemnation, we should be speaking words of prayer and thanksgiving to the Lord for those “in” the struggle.

    “…but the greatest of these is love.”


  • James 4:12 (New International Version)
    New International Version (NIV)
    Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

    12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

  • Ezekiel 34:17 (New International Version)
    New International Version (NIV)
    Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

    17 ” ‘As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats.

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