Online news sources report one of cinema’s toughest-acting stars – Sylvester Stallone, who played boxer Rocky Balboa in the “Rocky” movies – hopes to direct the movie “Tough As They Come,” the story of retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, a Vassar native.
Stallone plans to direct and appear in the movie opposite Adam Driver – a star of the 2015 movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” – who will plays Mills, a 2005 Vassar High School graduate and only one of five quadruple amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive his injuries.
News of Stallone and Driver planning to appear in the movie surfaced Tuesday on www.thewrap.com and on www.deadline.com. Driver, who served in the U.S. Marines, also stars in the HBO television series “Girls.”
“Tough As They Come” is the title of Mills’ 2015 memoir written by Mills and Marcus Brotherton. The book is a New York Times Bestseller.
Stallone made news in recent days when President-elect Donald Trump courted him to take the top post at the National Endowment for the Arts. According to deadline.com, Stallone “turned down the job and said he wanted to spend his time bringing national attention to returning military personnel and shining the light on the challenges of reintegrating into society.”
Mike Fleming Jr., reporter for deadline.com, wrote Tuesday that Beverly Hills talent agency WME is “shopping the package (involving Stallone and Driver in the movie), and I’ve heard the conversation is with (20th Century) Fox but no deal yet.” WME is Stallone’s agent.
Mills, now 29, son of Dennis and Cheri Mills of Tuscola County’s Vassar Township, was a star football and baseball player at Vassar High School. He was critically injured on his third tour of duty in April of 2012 while on patrol in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device blew up beneath him.
“What I found out in the hospital was – real quick – that I couldn’t dwell on the past,” Mills told The Advertiser after addressing several hundred children in the Marlette Elementary School gymnasium in 2015.
“My wife had stayed by my side and my daughter stayed by my side,” Mills said. “The community of Vassar – the hometown and the supporting communities all around it – really have made a positive impact on my recovery and I can’t thank them enough.”
Mills was hailed by thousands greeting him in Vassar at an Oct. 4, 2012 parade and bonfire in his honor on the night before a Vassar High School football game.
In 2013, Mills founded the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit organization, to help wounded and injured veterans.
Deadline.com reports that Stallone would play Mills’ father-in-law, Craig Buck, “who stood by his side from the day he got home from the hospital.” The soldier’s relationship with Buck is “at the heart of the story,” according to the website.
Buck’s son, the brother of Mills’ wife, Kelsey (Buck) Mills, served in the same U.S. Army unit as Travis Mills.
Stallone has directed number of movies, including “Rocky II,” “Rocky III,” “Rocky IV” and the 1983 film “Staying Alive.”
Tom Gilchrist is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org