Sage Stallone `killed by pressure of trying to live up to dad’s stardom`

Last Updated: Jul 19, 2012, 17:26 PM IST

London: Sage Stallone’s friend has claimed that the Hollywood star’s son was unable to cope with the pressure of trying to match his father’s superstar reputation.

41-year-old Stephen Wozniack claimed that the actor’s son had struggled to “deliver the goods” for the ‘Rocky’ star.

Unable to cope, Stallone sought solace in prescription drugs, chain-smoking and comfort eating.

“Sage was not in the best of health and I think he felt the pressure. He wanted to make his dad proud. He felt the need to deliver rather than develop,” the Sun quoted Wozniak as saying.

“It was such a huge shadow to grow up in. He was private and guarded. I’m certain he did spend time alone for weeks,” he said.

The overweight, 36-year-old film maker had been found dead in his Los Angeles mansion on Friday last week.

He was surrounded by bottles of prescription pills in a bedroom that reeked of cigarettes.

According to reports, the room also contained bags of white powder.

It has been suggested that he lay there several days before his body had been found by his maid.

Reclusive Stallone had suffered from depression and anxiety, Wozniak said.

He would hide away for over a month at a time and hadn’t spoken to his dad, for several weeks before his death.

When he was 14, he made his movie debut in 1990’s ‘Rocky V.’

It seemed a glittering showbiz career lay ahead but instead, he got bogged down by the weight of expectation and began to struggle.

Wozniak said that his friend had been taking anti-anxiety pills Xanex, Paxil and Valium.

He had also had a lot of dental work done in the months before he died and had been taking painkillers, too.

Wozniak admitted that his friend’s lifestyle could have contributed to his untimely death.

“He was very heavy, 50lb overweight or more. He ate incredibly rich foods every day. For him it was comfort food. It would help him relax or sleep. He kept strange hours — he would rise at 3am and go back to bed at 7am,” Wozniak said.

“He drank a great deal of soda, eight, nine, ten cans a day. Probably more.

“He also smoked two to three packs of heavy-duty cigarettes a day. And I was aware of the prescription drug use. He had all the telltale signs of depression,” he said.

Stallone had been devastated when his father Sylvester and his mum, actress Sasha Czack got divorced when he was nine.

“He said many times he saw his father get irate, for one reason or another, to the point where it frightened him.

“I know he was bullied at school because of his name. They’d say, ‘Aren’t you a tough guy, too?’ I think he withdrew at that point,” Wozniak said.

Later Stallone became obsessed with dark horror movies and met Wozniak in 2002 shooting controversial B-movie ‘Chaos’, which claimed to be “the most brutal film ever made.”

The duo filmed another sick flick, ‘A Place To Die,’ in Sage’s LA home in 2008.

He was, Wozniak said, keen to get back to work. Sadly, it was not to be.

Wozniak ruled out any suggestion of suicide, believing that the death had been a tragic accident.

And he insists that Stallone had resolved many of the issues he once had with his father.

“Like all young people who want to strike out on their own, he did have a period where there probably was some disdain.

“But he loved his dad and idolised him more than people know,” the friend added.