Action movies aren’t real life, though, and Stallone, who has a fear of heights, gets that. He understood this more than ever during one movie stunt, which left him dangling in the air, terrified.
The experience certainly left a mark on the actor and could have literally done that had it gone wrong
Stallone told Roger Ebert about a Nighthawks stunt he filmed, “I’ve never been so scared in my life, as when I was dangling from that helicopter. I have a fear of heights that borders on mania. I had to do something like this once in my life. So there I was, hanging 250 feet up over the East River, with the wind blowing me back and forth and the constant danger that if the steel cable hit something it could shear in two.”
“There was a fireboat down below with two divers in it. I made the mistake of calling them ‘lifeguards.’ It was explained to me that they were not lifeguards. They were there to retrieve my body, if necessary. If you see the movie and look closely, you’ll see that I’m holding a knife in the scene.”
“My theory was that if I fell, the cable would make me sink unless I could cut the harness loose. After I saw that guy hit the water like it was cement, I changed my plan. The knife was to plunge into my heart a second before I hit.”