After creating a survivalist’s icon with Ram/70, Sylvester Stallone believes he has found an authoritarian cure for the problems of the 903 in Judge Dredd. Alan Jones heard the star lay down the law.
‘What happens in Judge l)redd is not far off happening in our own forese 'able future.‘ says Sylvester Stallone. ‘lf we follow the same channels. we‘ll soon have the same kind of anarchy. In the l)rcdd universe. elections threw the government out. They were a disaster and the President could never make a decision. Does that sound familiar“? Chaos reigned and this is where the Judges came in. Democracy didn‘t work anymore. and America became a police state with no more politicians. no more deceptions and no more lying. The Judges mete out the most straightforward police procedure of all because they are judge. jury and executioner all rolled into one.‘
And you thought the summer‘s ‘other‘ 380 million event movie was just another cartoon. did you? Well. not according to superstar Stallone. who plays the (visor-less — shock! horror!) lead role in the long- awaited screen version ofthe most popular comic strip in 2000/1!) ll’eek/y. which co-stars Armand Assante. Diane Lane. Max Von Sydow and Rob Schneider. The British comic phenomenon Judge l)rcdd outlines the best system to cope with the deteriorating state of affairs. in the action hero‘s estimation: ‘What the world needs is one person in an inﬂuential position to get up there and tell the truth. Our legal system isn‘t working. Our criminal system stinks. lt‘s corrupt. so we're throwing it out and starting from scratch. Crime has risen 450 per cent in the last 20 years. lfthat were a business. it would be bankrupt. Yet we seem to keep making things worse by being too liberal or making deals on the side.‘
Now on a full head of steam. he continues: ‘Look at the death penalty — 95 per cent of people want it. Everyone walks on eggshells with the gun control lobby too. There are too many interest groups now. No one comes out and says we are not going to support one-parent families because those kids often grow up to be criminals. It needs one powerful voice to say that stuff in the deﬁnite way your father would. We need straight talk. like the next person who abuses a gun during a crime should be hung within 24 hours. lfthat sort of thing was clearly
stated. then you’d see something done. Society would L
change. In Judge Dredd something is done because you have a man who is the law. And the law in the future is the power of life and death.‘
So not only is Judge l)rcdd a fast-paced sci-fr epic
about the granite-jawed future cop defeating his evil ‘twin‘ brother Rico's plan to populate Mega-City One with armies cloned from his defective DNA. it's also Stallone‘s way of opening the audience's eyes to nasty borne truths without getting on his political soapbox.
‘Actors are given too much credit with regards to their political influences. It‘s one reason I moved from Hollywood to live in l‘lorida. Society is going to have to make some huge changes socially if the world of Judge l)redd isn't going to be our future. But that isn‘t the responsibility of any Hollywood star. However. I believe we would all be better off it
we had a few l)redds around. We‘d all feel a lot safer
at night.‘ Catching Stallone in action on the impressive Shepperton Studios set of Mega-City ()ne. he points
‘We need straight talk, like the next person who abuses a gun during a crime should be hung within 24 hours. If that sort of thing was clearly stated, then you’d see something done. Society would change.’
out: ‘Dredd is a symbol of the 90s as Rocky was a role model for the 70s and Rambo a hero for the 80s. He‘s the anti-hero redefined. for he isn't just some guy who walks around blowing villains away with a machine gun. He‘s a life-preserver who‘ll readily die for his principles or any infringement of the law. He has no personal life. no girlfriends. and he wants no money. His life is the law and that heroic stoieisrn was refreshing for me to play. l)rcdd is extremely imperial and never smiles. Director Danny Cannon [The Young .-imerreuus] is always describing Judge Dredd as Slur llurs meets lr’eu l-lur. and he‘s hit the tone on the head with that analogy. I looked to the works of Homer for inspiration on how to play l)rcdd.‘
Judge Dredd: “judge, jury and executioner all rolled into one’
lt \ 'as the serious subtext which made Stallone anxious to play the part and move to London for the entire live month shoot. ‘l've been categorised as an actor who doesn't think. Someone who just acts physically. In the past. I performed stunts without logic because that was the purest form of heroism my characters could register. l)rcdd was a deliberate choice on my part to back that kind of heroism up with thought in a very dramatic. big-voiced way. He‘s a hero in the Ilitchcockian sense as there's more action going on inside him than is actually happening on the outside. So while l)rcdd has its action beats. it also deals in nerve. fear and other subconscious emotions. I‘m proud of my performance here.‘
Stallone also knows Judge Dredd is exactly the sort of movie his fans want to see him in. look. let's be honest. I lost my focus for about two years. Nothing worked out for me. I started taking roles I thought would stretch me. like Oscar and Slop.’ 01' My Mum ll’il/ Sluml. and received nothing but awful reviews. I thought my career was over. Then ('lrj/ﬂiuuger came along and I grabbed it with both hands. I think I would have killed myself if it hadn't been a hit. Fans don't desert you. you desert them. Give them what they want and you‘ll never be unemployed. The art comes in taking that same action meal and serving it in different ways. The spin on Judge l)redd is it's more mature and hard-edged as there‘s a twenty-year backstory behind it thanks to the comics. I never thought comics could be this cool.
‘The worst thing about success is losing it. Success is an addiction worse than heroin. lt fills you with such validation and a sense that you are right. you‘ve made it. Once the moment vanishes. you realise you weren't that successful after all and it was only temporary. I've always said artists die twice. The second time is easy. lt‘s the first. the artistic death. that‘s the living nightmare because it can last for 50 years. Walking into a room with people whispering. “He hasn‘t had a hit film in years” is the worst part of it all. I know. I‘ve been there.‘
Judge l)redd opens mi Friday 2/ July.
24 The List r4-27 Jul I995