Q: Sylvester Stallone has a very interesting voice. Is it an accent or something?

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

Sylvester Stallone's ("Rocky," 1976) slow and labored vocal delivery, made famous with iconic characters Rocky Balboa and John Rambo, is very much his trademark.

You might assume it was a choice he made for those two roles, both of which he wrote himself (Rambo was based on a book character, but Stallone made quite a few changes in the screenplay), but, in fact, the choice was made for him the day he was born.

Complications at birth (specifically the use of forceps during delivery) severed a nerve in his face, leaving part of his tongue, lips and face paralyzed; hence his distinctive slurred speech and crooked smile.

Both attributes are perfect for a boxer and war vet who have been shaped by the hard knocks (literal and figurative) life has dealt them. That raises the question: did he create those roles because of his speech style? Would the movies have been hits without it?

He has said himself that he wouldn't be an actor without these early hardships. Bullied as a kid because of the way he looked and talked, he turned to bodybuilding and, later, acting as a way to cope.

Once he added writing to the mix and created the perfect part for himself, it all clicked.


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