Elton John Says Richard Gere & Sylvester Stallone Got Into a Fight Over Princess Diana
It was at a dinner party after her separation from King Charles.
Fresh off her separation from husband King Charles (Prince Charles), Princess Diana unexpectedly found herself at the center of a fistfight erupting between two of the biggest names in Hollywood. The drama between Richard Gere and Sylvester Stallone took place at a dinner party thrown by Elton John, who wrote about the altercation in his 2019 memoir. And it wasn't the first time the two actors had rubbed each other the wrong way. Read on to find out what happened when the stars vied for Diana's attention and how their feud initially got started.
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Stallone and Gere have been at odds for decades.
The animosity between Gere and Stallone dates back to the beginning of their respective careers, when both were cast in the 1974 nostalgia film The Lords of Flatbush. In a 2006 interview with Ain't It Cool News, Stallone recounted tension with his co-star from the start, describing him as "completely in character and impossible to deal with" as he played a young member of a '50s Brooklyn motorcycle gang. The Rocky star went on to recount that, one day during filming, he had snuck away to the back seat of a car in search of a warm place to eat his lunch when Gere joined him with a half chicken, which dripped on the actor's thigh. This led to an altercation between the two, prompting the studio to let Gere go.
"The director had to make a choice: one of us had to go, one of us had to stay," Stallone said. "Richard was given his walking papers and to this day seriously dislikes me."
They squabbled over Diana 20 years later.
Although the two would never work together again, it would hardly be the last they saw of each other, as both rose to become Hollywood leading men in the years that followed. John writes in Me that they came face to face when he, then scoring Disney's The Lion King, invited both to a dinner party for Disney Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg—one that Princess Diana was also attending. This time, it was Gere's turn to send Stallone packing as he instantly hit it off with the royal, according to John.
"The most peculiar scene developed," the book reads. "Straight away, Richard Gere and Diana seemed very taken with each other. She was separated from Prince Charles by this point, and Richard had just broken up with Cindy Crawford, and they ended up sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace together, locked in rapt conversation."
John goes on to claim that Stallone was visibly displeased with the situation, leading him to speculate that the star had arrived "with the express intention of picking Diana up, only to find his plans for the evening unexpectedly ruined." A short while later, John's partner David Furnish found the two actors gearing up for another fight—this time over Diana's favor. While the group managed to sit down for dinner, Stallone eventually left in a huff when the flirting resumed.
"'I never would have come,' he snapped, as David and I showed him to the door, 'if I'd known Prince [expletive] Charming was gonna be here,'" John writes. "Then he added: 'If I'd wanted her, I would've taken her!'"
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Another account has the actors fighting over a different woman.
While John's 2019 account put a new spin on things, at the time, the stars' feud was said to be about another high-profile woman: Gere's soon-to-be-ex-wife, supermodel Crawford. According to a 1995 Esquire article on the famous breakup, Gere had supposedly snarled, "I hear you're sleeping with my wife" to Stallone, who would call the accusation "the most bizarre thing I've ever experienced," according to Entertainment Weekly. Crawford would later comment in an interview that "Stallone may have said something to provoke Richard."
Stallone denied John's story.
When asked about the Princess Diana story on Instagram, Stallone called John's version of events "[t]otal BS for him to sell books" Us Weekly reported. But Stallone hasn't denied much else about the love lost between him and Gere, He even claimed to Ain't It Cool News that the Pretty Woman star holds him responsible for a certain rodent-related urban legend. "He even thinks I'm the individual responsible for the gerbil rumor," he said in 2006. "Not true… but that's the rumor."