As Stallone pointed out, the small community is “exactly where we shot ‘First Blood’,” the original film in the Rambo series, which came out in 1982 and ultimately spawned four sequels.
He also praised artist Ryan Villiers from Edmonton.
Hope has long embraced her connection to the hit action series – the town’s website offers a map for self-guided tours of the filming locations – and local tourism promoter Brian McKinney reached out to Villiers last year to order the sculpture.
The artist, who began carving with wood just a few years ago, told CTV News he was honored to be chosen for the piece, which he hopes will draw visitors to the city for years to come.
He said it was “very stressful” trying to accurately capture the character’s appearance, but he was relieved to learn that Stallone approved of his work.
“Yeah, that was the icing on the cake,” Villiers said. “It was great, really cool. ”
The sculpture wasn’t the first celebrity image Villiers worked on – he made a life-size statue of George Wendt’s character, Norm from “Cheers” last year – and it probably won’t be his last.
He told CTV News that he had already been approached about possibly doing a play in Toronto dedicated to Canadian comedy legend John Candy.
“It’s funny, I was talking to a good friend of mine about (wanting to sculpt) John Candy a few months ago,” he said. “I’d be pretty excited if I had this one to do. ”
Some of the “First Blood” filming locations that remain in Hope include the Othello and Wallace Street tunnels. Unfortunately for die-hard fans, the Kawkawa Bridge – where Rambo is kicked out of town by a local sheriff who mistakes him for a vagrant – was demolished years ago.