Brigitte Nielsen Says She Was "Blacklisted" by Hollywood After Leaving Sylvester Stallone

The Rocky IV co-stars were married for 19 months in the mid-'80s.

Danish actor Brigitte Nielsen and Sylvester Stallone were the subject of tabloid fodder from the time they starred together in Rocky IV. They both ended marriages to be together and were married to each other less than a year after their whirlwind romance began.

But it wouldn't last—and Nielsen claims that she suffered unexpected consequences after their union fell apart. In an episode of OWN's Where Are They Now? the actor revealed that after their divorce, she couldn't find work in Hollywood and was "basically blacklisted." Read on to learn more.

RELATED: How Sylvester Stallone Got Richard Gere Fired From Movie Amid Feud.

They met before filming Rocky IV.

Brigitte Nielsen and Sylvester Stallone in 1985
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

According to The Guardian, the pair met when a 21-year-old Nielsen—fresh from her film debut in 1985's Red Sonja, already a mother, and the end of her first marriage—paid a bellboy $20 to sneak her headshot under the then-39-year-old star's hotel room door. At the time, Stallone was married to his first wife, Sasha Czack.

Soon both were divorced and co-starring in Rocky IV. Nielsen played Ludmilla Drago, wife of Rocky nemesis Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Dubbed Beefcake and Cheesecake by the press, the couple were taken to task in the tabloids for their 17-year age difference and the idea that Nielsen was after Stallone's money. (He was the highest-paid actor in Hollywood at the time.)

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Stallone begged her to get married.

Brigitte Nielsen and Sylvester Stallone in 1985
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

In her 2014 episode of Where Are They Now?, Nielsen pushed back against that rumor.

"The biggest misconception while I was with Sylvester was the fact that everybody thought I married him because of money," she said. "They didn't understand that he begged me to marry."

The stars were wed on Dec. 15, 1985, at the estate of Rocky producer Irwin Winkler. Nielsen later said she knew the union was a mistake even then.

"I remember thinking this is too early, this is not right," she told Oprah Winfrey. "If I would go back in time, I shouldn't have married him. And he shouldn't have married me! I don't want to sit here and come across as an angel. I probably was also a pain in the butt at times … But it really just wasn't for me, and it became very ugly, like some divorces do."

The press blamed their breakup on Nielsen's infidelity.

Sylvester Stallone and Brigitte Nielsen in 1986
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

When it was announced in July 1987 that Stallone had filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences, People reported rumors that it was because Nielsen had become involved with Beverly Hills Cop II director Tony Scott. However, it may have been talk of another affair—with the film's star, Eddie Murphy—that actually came between them.

According to Nick de Semlyen's 2019 book Wild and Crazy Guys: How the Comedy Mavericks of the '80s Changed Hollywood Forever (as quoted in the New York Post), Stallone and Murphy had been good friends when Murphy took over the lead in Beverly Hills Cop after Stallone passed on it, and the two even pitched a version of The Godfather III that would have starred the two alongside Al Pacino.

Nielsen eventually appeared with Murphy in the cop comedy sequel, leading to gossip that they were romantically involved. While the comedian denied them, his friendship with Stallone never recovered.

Nielsen said she was "blacklisted" by the industry after that.

Brigitte Nielsen in 1990
Daniel SIMON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Nielsen said she was shut out of Hollywood after her marriage to Stallone was finished.

"When I left Sylvester, all doors closed on me," she said on Where Are They Now?. "No one wanted to touch me, and I was basically blacklisted." She claimed she was forced to move back to Europe, where her ability to speak and act in four languages kept her afloat.

"I was so angry at the time that I cut up my green card," she told The Guardian in 2019. "I am almost positive that had I not been in the public eye with this famous man, that would never have happened. But they always thought: after Stallone, who is going to be next?"

RELATED: Tom Cruise Won Lawsuit Against Male Adult Film Star Who Claimed They Had an Affair.

She married three more times—and became a mother again at 54.

Brigitte Nielsen and Mattia Dessi in 2023
STARLITE/Getty Images

Nielsen may have struggled to find film roles for a time after her divorce from Stallone, but she proved more prolific in love. She wed three more times, and notched at least one more tabloid-worthy romance.

She welcomed her second child, Killian Gastineau, when she was in a relationship with football player Mark Gastineau. Then, in 1990, Nielsen married Sebastian Copeland, a director and photographer, whom she divorced after two years. Her next marriage, to Raoul Meyer, a race car driver, was more successful, lasting from 1993 to 2005 and resulting in two more children, Douglas Aaron and Raoul, Jr.

After a romance with rapper Flavor Flav that began on The Surreal Life and continued on their own reality show Strange Love, Nielsen legally wed Mattia Dessì, an Italian model, in 2006. The two had already exchanged vows informally a year earlier, while she was still married to Meyer. They are still together today, and Neilsen credits her fifth husband with helping her find sobriety.

"I'm literally a different person, and that has a lot to do with my husband, because my husband doesn't smoke, doesn't drink," she told People in 2018. "When I met him I was like rock and roll, and he said, 'I adore you, but I cannot live with that.'"

Nielsen gave birth to her fifth child (and first daughter) Frida in 2018, when she was 54, more than a decade after beginning IVF treatment. Of her older pregnancy, the actor said to People, "Some women think, 'Oh my God, I'm too old.' … I can understand people saying, 'How dare she?' but how many men have their first kids in their 60s and 70s and they never doubt it?"

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Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller is a pop culture writer living in New York. Read more
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