Sylvester Stallone gives shout-out to new Rambo chainsaw carving in Hope, B.C.

Carver Ryan Villiers puts finishing touches on the lifelike chainsaw carving of John J. Rambo (played by Sylvester Stallone) before it was installed at Hope’s Memorial Park Aug. 14, 2020. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)Carver Ryan Villiers puts finishing touches on the lifelike chainsaw carving of John J. Rambo (played by Sylvester Stallone) before it was installed at Hope’s Memorial Park Aug. 14, 2020. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Hope’s first Rambo statue stands at the edge of Memorial Park, the exact spot where the town’s first ever carving was positioned. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)Hope’s first Rambo statue stands at the edge of Memorial Park, the exact spot where the town’s first ever carving was positioned. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Brian McKinney said Hope is lucky to still have much of the same ‘look’, the same geography and even some of the original structures, as when Rambo First Blood was filmed in 1981. A chainsaw carving of John J. Rambo stands facing Wallace Street in Hope Aug. 14, 2020. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)Brian McKinney said Hope is lucky to still have much of the same ‘look’, the same geography and even some of the original structures, as when Rambo First Blood was filmed in 1981. A chainsaw carving of John J. Rambo stands facing Wallace Street in Hope Aug. 14, 2020. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
The Aug. 14, 2020 unveiling of a John J. Rambo statue in the town in which the Rambo franchise started, Hope B.C. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)The Aug. 14, 2020 unveiling of a John J. Rambo statue in the town in which the Rambo franchise started, Hope B.C. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
The Aug. 14, 2020 unveiling of a John J. Rambo statue in the town in which the Rambo franchise started, Hope B.C. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)The Aug. 14, 2020 unveiling of a John J. Rambo statue in the town in which the Rambo franchise started, Hope B.C. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Hope’s first chainsaw carving of John J. Rambo, in red cedar, is installed at Memorial park on Aug. 14, 2020. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)Hope’s first chainsaw carving of John J. Rambo, in red cedar, is installed at Memorial park on Aug. 14, 2020. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)

The town where one of Hollywood North’s first blockbusters was filmed now has a permanent red cedar reminder of the industry’s beginnings. And the carving, of Sylvester Stallone’s character John J. Rambo, is officially Sly-approved according to the man himself.

On Instagram, Stallone posted that he was very proud of the “massive” Rambo statue installed in Hope, “exactly where we shot First Blood.” He also gave a shout out to carver Ryan Villiers, who was commissioned to take on the reincarnation of Rambo’s iconic look in red cedar.

Villiers, an Edmonton-based chainsaw carver, has made a name for himself in the industry by taking on lifelike carvings of Don Cherry and Norm from Cheers. It was these carvings that caught the eye of Hope councillor and leader with Communities in Bloom Victor Smith, who commissioned Villiers for this project.

The process began with a lot of Googling of Rambo in different angles – Villiers estimates he had two to three hundred screenshots on his phone. Then it was about scaling, getting the proper proportions which he has modeled on his own frame.

Throughout the creative process, Villiers heard from Sly’s agent after he had seen his progress on the piece. Stallone was shown the photos of the carving when it was still just bare wood, and loved it his agent said in a text message. “So that was icing on the cake for me,” Villiers said.

The only question the agent had, allegedly from Sly himself, was around the stature of the art piece. The carving, Villiers answered, stands 6 foot 1 inch tall.

“First Blood fans have been waiting for this moment for almost 30 years,”said local tourism promoter Bryan McKinney on the day of the unveiling of the piece Aug. 14. Fans of the franchise always wonder when they visit Hope and its many chainsaw carvings, McKinney said, where the Rambo carving is.

And with the piece now installed, McKinney is also able to push back against the digs from his friends in Philadelphia who have their own bronze statue of Rocky Balboa in their city.

“This day is for the fans, the millions of them, that are around the globe and I’m not lying, it’s a little bit of an emotional day for sure,” McKinney reflected on the unveiling. “We often like to say, you know what, the co-star of this film is Hope, B.C. and a lot of the fans they come to our town because of the way the town looked on screen.”

READ MORE: Farewell to Rambo bridge

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
emelie.peacock@hopestandard.com


Facebook and follow us on Twitter

ArtFilm industryHopeTourism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Vancouver Giants defenceman Bowen Byram could be playing for Colorado when the NHL resumes play. (Rik Fedyck/file)
Cranbrook product Bowen Byram makes NHL debut with Avalanche

Highly touted prospect marks first pro game following World Junior tournament in Alberta

CNOY is a family friendly walk/fundraiser hosted by Canadian Mental Health Association for the Kootenays to help those who are hungry, homeless and hurting. Our goal is to raise at least $20,000 and we need your help! The CNOY is set for Feb. 20.
There’s a place for everyone: Coldest Night of the Year walk is back

CNOY fundraising walk to raise money for charities serving people experiencing homelessness, hurt, and hunger set for Feb. 20

1914
It happened this week in 1914

Jan. 17-23: Items compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers held at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons. File photo.
MP Morrison calls Keystone XL permit cancellation ‘devastating news’

Kootenay-Columbia MP reacts to the Conservative Party’s removal of a controversial Ontario MP

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Most Read