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Brokaw: Sylvester Stallone stars in new mob-themed TV series

By Francine Brokaw - Special to the Daily Herald | Dec 3, 2022

Courtesy photo

"Tulsa King" is streaming now on Paramount+.

Movie star Sylvester Stallone shining on TV? Yes indeed. The new Paramount+ show “Tulsa King” stars the veteran actor, who is also an Executive Producer.

The show is about Dwight Manfredi, a legendary New York mobster who has been in prison for 25 years. He’s a loyal guy who went to prison to protect his boss’ family. While in prison he lost any connection with his daughter–  and everyone else in his life.

He is sent to Tulsa by his boss’ son, and Manfredi decides to rectify his past and build a new relationship with his daughter. Dwight procures a new “crew,” which consists of a variety of personalities and talents. So how exactly did this A-list star get involved with this project?

“It’s kind of interesting because I met Taylor (Sheridan, creator of the show) a while back, actually riding horses in California. And he was just working on ‘Sicario’ at the time, and I wanted him to write the screenplay for ‘Rambo’ because I was getting lazy. Anyway, we moved on in life. And then he became very, very successful with ‘Yellowstone.’ And one day, he just had this idea, called me up, pitched it to me in like three seconds. I went, ‘I’m in.’ It was very fast,” Stallone said.

As for his character, Stallone envisioned someone different than the mobster leads viewers have grown accustomed to.

“I wanted to play a different interpretation of a gangster, because most of the times, gangsters are ‘thems’ and ‘those.’ This is a fella who’s very educated, reads Marcus Aurelius, reads Plato. He’s into Machiavelli. He’s also into the classics. He’s a different animal than you would normally see in a, quote, ‘gangster’ film,” he said.

While his character is not the typical gangster, Stallone did use his own life experiences to inform the story.

“I grew up around a lot of these mugs, and they’re very interesting. In Philadelphia, you’re always bumping shoulders with them whether you want to or not, especially in South Philly. So I’ve got the tempo, I’ve got the idea, I’ve got the attitude, so I understand the street life very, very well,” he explained.

As you’ll quickly learn watching the show, Dwight’s gang ends is unusual, to say the least.

“Where we try, I think, is to show that it’s not your stereotypical gangster show that we’ve seen done very, very well. And, I mean, it’s probably been done to perfection in the gangster-type genre. This is a whole other thing,” he said. “I am out of my element. So now my gang is made up of cowboys, Indians, women, you know, fellas that run a weed store. In other words, a group of complete misfits, in a sense, that fit, finally, together as a family. That’s what makes it so unusual.”

Stallone, who has been acting in films since 1969, finds working in the small screen a little different — particularly the pace.

“It’s harder, faster, and longer,” he explained. “That’s what it is. You really have to be quick. You have to be mercurial. You have to work out of sync a lot of times with sequences that don’t follow the natural order of things. But most importantly, you have to keep your energy up, and it’s extremely quick. Put it this way. In the amount of time that we did ten episodes is the equivalent of doing five ‘Rockys’ in a row, five two-hour films in a row with no break in between. So I had great respect for the crew in their diligence and endurance.”

“Tulsa King” premiered Nov. 13 on Paramount+ and is streaming now.

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