After their divorce, tabloids started saying that she married him with ulterior motives but she said, "he begged me to marry."
"My name is Brigitte Nielsen... I’d really like to meet you. Here’s my number," read the words on a promo shot that was slide under Sylvester Stallone's hotel room door.
Stallone, who was one of the biggest movie stars of the time, read the note and dialed the number that was jotted down as part of the message. When he met the woman who left the message for him, he said, "I’ve got to get to know you better." And that is how Stallone met Nielsen, the Danish actress that he went on to marry, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Stallone and Nielsen, who had a gap of 17 years between their ages, went on to fall in love with each other and they got married in December 1985 when he was 39 years old and she was 22.
When they tied the knot, they had only known each other for a few months. But "at the time, they were... very much in love," said Irwin Winkler, producer of Rocky and also a longtime friend of the star.
However, they only spent about 19 months married to each other before filing for divorce, leading to things getting very ugly. The divorce spurred a storm among the tabloids that started painting Nielsen in a poor light. Some claimed that she was with Stallone only for his money and others claimed that she used him to shift to the next gear in her career. Nielsen was also accused of having cheated on her famous husband.
But when Nielsen told the world her side of the story, she said that those claims were false and the reality was completely different. While the tabloids made people believe that she was the one who was desperate to be with Stallone, she instead, said that he actually begged to have her hand in marriage.
"The biggest misconception while I was with Sylvester was the fact that everybody thought I married him because of money," Nielsen told Oprah Winfrey, as quoted by HuffPost. "They didn’t understand that he begged me to marry. He begged me!"
The actress recalled how she was in two minds about marrying Stallone. One hand, she thought it was a mistake for them to get married so soon after just months into their relationship while on the other hand, people kept telling her about how he was no ordinary guy, he was the Sylvester Stallone. But now when Nielsen looks back at their relationship, she said it was a definite mistake that she wishes she could undo.
Talking about her state of mind before marrying him, Nielsen said, "I remember thinking, 'This is too early. This is not right.' At the same time, everybody was going, 'Who wouldn’t want to marry Rocky?'"
"If I would go back in time, I shouldn’t have married him," she said. "And he shouldn’t have married me!"
Their marriage quickly fell apart but Nielsen doesn't blame Stallone for everything. She admits that she too has made mistakes and said, "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."
Divorce is hard on its own but along with it, Nielsen had to deal with being constantly targetted by the tabloids and her public image was ripped apart. "When I left Sylvester, all doors closed on me," the actress said. "I was basically blacklisted."
The only way she could survive was by leaving Hollywood behind, going back to Europe, and looking at other options. "Thank god I had so much work, speaking four languages — Danish, German, English, Italian," she said. "Being able to work in all these different languages basically made me survive."
Now, decades have passed since then and the dust has settled, even between Stallone and Nielsen. After more than 30 years since she played the role of Ludmilla Drago, co-starring with Stallone in Rocky IV (1985), she was reunited with her ex-husband on set for Creed II.
"My heart was beating very fast," Nielsen said, about being reuniting with her ex-husband for professional reasons.
"In 1985 I was married to Sylvester and this time I am the ex-wife," Nielsen said. "But it was wonderful to have half of the cast there 32 years later. Who could have ever dreamed that you pick up the same roles many years after?"
Today, both Stallone and Nielsen are leading separate lives with the 56-year-old actress being married to Mattia Dessi and the 73-year-old actor being married to Jennifer Flavin.