The 76-year-old 'Tulsa King' actor opens up about focusing on his family after calling off his divorce from Jennifer Flavin.
Speaking with ET's Cassie DiLaura about his new Paramount+ series, Tulsa King, Stallone also took the time to discuss the tipping point in his life that led him to examine his priorities.
"In the past few years when you find yourself obsessing about, oh what’s the next move? How do I compete with this situation or this character or this guy's getting this role, and I said, 'Jesus Christ, what does it matter?'" Stallone tells ET. "Because the things that really matter, the things that are actually your flesh and blood are moving on."
Calling acting a "second priority," the veteran star adds of his family, "The priority is the things that you’re responsible for. You brought them on this planet. You must guard them with your life."
Flavin and Stallone share daughters Sophia, 26, Sistine, 24, and Scarlet, 20. Stallone is also dad to son Seargeoh, 43, and his late son Sage, whom he shared with his ex-wife, Sasha Czack.
In Tulsa King, Stallone portrays New York mafia capo Dwight "The General" Manfredi, who is released from prison after 25 years and gets exiled by his boss to set up shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After realizing that his mob family may not have his best interests in mind, Dwight slowly builds a crew.
"I don’t know if it sounds vain glorious, but that is me," he says of Dwight. "That was the hardest thing is to not fall back on this tough guy thing or where you sit and you pose just the thing you know that works. I was talking to my wife, I said, 'This would be great 'cause you’re always accusing me of being irreverent. Why don’t I just try that?' 'Cause every other good gangster portrayal has been done, you know, [Robert] de Niro, [Al] Pacino, everyone. I said, 'Why don’t you just try and be yourself, but you would have a dark side.' The audience hasn’t seen it yet, and it only comes out when something you love incredibly well with all your heart is threatened and then you become actually what any parent would do."
Of his family's reaction to Stallone in the role, he quips, "I couldn’t believe it they didn’t walk out. They didn’t criticize me for once. I said, 'Wow, they actually liked it.' They’re very savvy. They’ve grown up in this world, so they don’t hold back."
Stallone calls the role "unexpected," sharing what it has taught him about his own life.
"It's life changing because it made me realize that I would do this, but my family comes first," he shares. "I would give this up tomorrow if it interfered with my relationship and the values of my family, like this, without hesitation."
Stallone previously spoke to ET on the carpet at the show's premiere, where he posed next to his wife and daughters, admitting, "I had my priorities screwed up, you know, work came first. Eventually, I came out of that delusional thinking and they come first so that's what it's all about. To actually have them here, that's what it's all about."
In August, Flavin filed for divorce from her husband of 25 years, only to reconcile a month later. The couple, who tied the knot in 1997, and their daughters, are now getting ready to star in their own reality series.
Stallone recently told The Hollywood Reporter that his marital issues will be part of the upcoming show.
"Of course, it’s part of the show," he said. "It’s the John Lennon thing: 'Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.' Hopefully, you’re involved with people who understand the foibles of life and the fragility of it and how rare a real good relationship is. Sometimes I put the work ahead of [my family], and that is a tragic mistake which won’t happen again."
Tulsa King airs its first episode on the Paramount Network on Nov. 13, after the premiere of Yellowstone. It will simultaneously stream on Paramount+.