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The Stars Of First Blood Have Changed A Lot Since 1982

Over the years, the character of Rambo has transformed from a guy in a dirty tank top and a tarp-turned-poncho to the shirtless, bandana-wearing warrior in tight black pants ready to destroy his enemies. In recent years, he's turned into a hulkier, tank-like version of the character who mows his way through bad guys like they're barely there. Much like the character himself, his fellow cast members have changed a lot over the past 40 years.

In addition to launching the series, which also includes "Rambo: First Blood Part II" (1985), "Rambo III" (1988), "Rambo" (2008), and "Rambo: Last Blood" (2019), 1982's Ted Kotcheff-helmed "First Blood" featured a more dramatic and emotional story about a veteran who just wanted to see his old army pal and get a bite to eat when he ran afoul of small town bigotry.

In "First Blood," Vietnam veteran John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) simply wants to visit the only other man to survive their Vietnam Green Beret unit, Delmar Barry. After finding out that Barry died from war-related cancer, Rambo continues wandering, making his way to a small town called Hope. There, he's seen by Sheriff Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy) as a drifter and given a ride out of town. But Rambo's hungry and doesn't particularly like how this small town sheriff treated him, so he turns back. Teasle persists and arrests the Green Beret for vagrancy. Rambo then spends the rest of the film showing Teasle and his deputies why they should have just left him alone in the first place, but they drew first blood, so now he's on the offensive, all while dealing with post traumatic stress.

Sylvester Stallone (Rambo)

By the time "First Blood" debuted in 1982, Sylvester Stallone had gone from one of the guys in "Death Race 2000" to the star and Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Rocky." "Rocky III" came out the same year as "First Blood," showing just how unique his career was and would continue to be. Though he became known as the toughest action hero on the screen, the character of John Rambo allowed him to play with a bit more depth than he would with something like "Cobra" or "Tango & Cash."

Stallone has worked consistently since then. He closed out the '80s and began the '90s with projects of all sorts ranging from the underrated mountain actioner "Cliffhanger" and the less-than-faithful comic adaptation "Judge Dredd" to the dramatic "Cop Land" and the wild sci-fi thriller "Demolition Man." His career dipped as the '90s gave way to the '00s, but he started going back to the well to great success with projects like "Rocky Balboa" and "Rambo."

He also began the "Expendables" franchise, which brings together action superstars past, present, and future. Stallone even has a hand in both DC and Marvel superhero franchises, as the voice of King Shark in "The Suicide Squad" and Stakar Ogord in the "Guardians of the Galaxy" films. In other words, Stallone — who has had a number one film in each of the past six decades — shows now signs of slowing down.

Brian Dennehy (Teasle)

Dennehy's Sheriff Will Teasle enters "First Blood" as a friendly servant of the people who knows everyone's name, and ends it broken and bloody. He arrested Rambo for vagrancy and passed him off to his cops who treated him brutally. Never once does he give up in his mission to bring his prey in. In the Blu-ray commentary, Stallone notes that Dennehy's character is supposed to be a Korean War veteran who's angry that his war has been all but forgotten, while people — including Rambo — are still upset about Vietnam.

Dennehy and Stallone previously appeared together in the 1978 Union-mobster drama "F.I.S.T." The year before, Dennehy racked up a number of credits appearing in one-off episodes of shows like "Kojak" and "M*A*S*H." From there he worked consistently in both TV and film all the way up through his death in 2020. Along the way, he worked in a variety of genres, which makes him recognizable to just about everyone. He had a recurring role on "Dynasty," starred in the oddball "F/X" films, appeared in "Cocoon," played Big Tom in "Tommy Boy," anchored a series of "Jack Reed" TV movies, showed up in nine episodes of "The Blacklist," and voiced Remy's dad Django in the Pixar classic "Ratatouille."

Jack Starrett (Galt)

After Teasle brings Rambo in, he passes him off to Sgt. Arthur Galt (Jack Starrett), who not only beats the incarcerated man, but also oversees him getting sprayed with a fire hose. So enraged by the prisoner's escape, Galt threatens to kill the helicopter pilot helping him give chase. During a standoff — in which Galt leans out the door of the chopper and Rambo hangs off the side of a cliff — the fugitive throws a rock at the chopper, which causes the sergeant to fall to his death. Teasle and the others use this alleged murder as fuel to hunt Rambo down.

Sometimes credited as Claude Ennis Starrett Jr., Starrett may not have nearly as many films to his name as his prolific co-stars, but he did have a varied career both in front of and behind the camera. He appeared in the classic western comedy "Blazing Saddles" as Gabby Johnson and before that in a number of biker films including "Hell's Bloody Devils" and "The Born Losers." He also directed a flicks like the all-time-great cult flick "Race With The Devil," "Cleopatra Jones," and "The New Spartans." Starrett passed away just a few years after "First Blood" came out in 1989.

Chris Mulkey (Ward)

Rambo goes along with the sheriff to the station, but does not cooperate when it comes to being processed. One of the deputies, Ward (Chris Mulkey). struggles to get fingerprints from the prisoner. When Ward comes at Rambo with a straight razor for a shave, the blade reminds the veteran of being held captive in Vietnam and he lashes out, beating up Ward and the others before making a break for it. In the woods, Rambo jumps off a tree to take Ward out with his bare hands. Shortly after, the deputy was accidentally shot by one of his fellow officers, but appears to have survived along with the others.

Of the entire "First Blood" cast, which is collectively no slouch when it comes to acting in other movies and TV shows, Mulkey easily beats out his fellow actors for sheer volume of appearances made since he started acting in 1975. Of the 260-plus projects, he has appeared in "48 Hours," "Twin Peaks," "Broken Arrow," "Friday Night Lights, "Saving Grace," "The Purge," "Whiplash," "Castle Rock," and "Rogue Warfare: The Hunt."

David Caruso (Mitch)

Another one of the Hope Deputies, Mitch (David Caruso) initially treats Rambo poorly, but changes his tune after seeing the scars all over the man's body. He sees the danger in this stranger and points it out to the others, uttering the classic line, "We ain't huntin' him. He's huntin' us." That turns out to be true, as Mitch becomes the first of the deputies to fall to Rambo after getting stabbed in the leg. He did not appear in the film after that, but we did blow the whistle on Galt's brutal treatment of Rambo.

Caruso's star did not take off immediately after "First Blood." He scored a recurring role on "Hill Street Blues," which was created by Steven Bochco. He went on to appear in "Twins," "King of New York," and "Mad Dog and Glory" before he scored the role of Detective John Kelly in the groundbreaking "NYPD Blue," also produced by Bochco. Caruso decided to bail out after just one season, though, and tried becoming a movie star with projects like "Jade" and "Kiss Of Death." It did not work.

After kicking around for a while, he returned to TV prominence as sunglasses maestro Horatio Caine in "CSI: Miami." However, since that show went off the air in 2012, Caruso hasn't done anything acting-wise.

Alf Humphreys (Lester)

Deputy Lester (Alf Humphreys) had nothing to do with Rambo's incarceration and the terrible things that happened during that time. He was coming back to the station with his arms full when the escaping Rambo punched him in the face. Stallone admits in the Blu-ray commentary that he accidentally punched him in the face for real, which is why Lester spends the rest of the film with black eyes and a bandage on his nose.

"First Blood" came just in the first few years of Humphreys' long career, but before that he appeared in a pair of notable horror films: "Funeral Home" and "My Bloody Valentine." Humphreys played another police officer in the seminal Jackie Chan vehicle "Rumble in the Bronx" and also showed up in "Jack Reed: One of Our Own" along with "First Blood" co-star Dennehy. You may also know him from his trio of "X-Files" appearances or his parts in "Final Destination 2," "X2: X-Men United," and two of the live-action "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" movies. Humphreys worked right up until his death in 2018.

Richard Crenna (Trautman)

After Rambo dispatches most of the deputies in the forest, Teasle regroups and meets Colonel Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna) who explains that he trained Rambo to be a survivor and a killer. Trautman seems to truly care for his former charge, but also understands just how dangerous he can be, which is why he does his best to talk Rambo down at the end of the film. Crenna joined the production last minute after Kirk Douglas left the project over creative differences.

Crenna came back as Trautman for "Rambo: First Blood II" to pluck Rambo from incarceration and send him to blast bad guys in Vietnam. His own capture in "Rambo III" brought the hero back to action, this time in Afghanistan. In addition to his dealings with John Rambo, Crenna enjoyed a career that started in 1950. He starred in the "Our Miss Brooks" sitcom from 1952-1955 and would go on to hit every type of project between then and his death in 2003, including a stint on "Judging Amy" and an appearance poking fun at Trautman in "Hot Shots Part Deux." When Stallone came back to make "Rambo" in 2008, he decided not to recast Trautman, because of Crenna's real-life passing.

Bill McKinney (Kern)

State Police Captain Dave Kern (Bill McKinney), shows up about halfway through the film, after Rambo dispatches the deputies. He doesn't play a very large part in the story, but does offer Teasle the chance to remove himself from the situation and let the State Police take over. Kern is less than impressed when he hears how Rambo was treated at the police station. At the very end of the film, he escorts Rambo after he's cuffed.

McKinney's most infamous role came by way of John Boorman's 1972 drama "Deliverance," which is about a group of campers who run afoul deranged men credited only as Mountain Man and Toothless Man. McKinney played the former and uttered the line that still echoes through the minds of anyone who saw the film about squealing like a pig. Before they joined forces in "First Blood," McKinney and Stallone also appeared in the Paul Bartel-directed film "Cannonball" from 1976, though McKinney got second billing and Stallone is an uncredited "mafioso" in the flick. Up until his 2011 passing, McKinney played a number of villains including several opposite Clint Eastwood in films like "The Outlaw Josey Wales," "Every Which Way But Loose," and "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot."

Bruce Greenward (Guardsman #5/Bruce)

After Rambo methodically takes out the deputies, the National Guard is called in. One of the soldiers who answered the call was played by Bruce Greenwood. He is part of the large group that blasts away at Rambo and corners him in an old mine. However, the guardsman refuses to go in after the man, knowing how dangerous their quarry is. Though he's credited as "Guardsman #5," Greenwood is actually called Bruce in the film.

If you missed Greenwood's appearance, don't feel bad. He spends most of his major scene lying on the ground and looking stunned in the background of the shot. Down the line, Greenwood became recurring characters on the hospital drama "St. Elsewhere" and the soapy "Knots Landing." Over the years he showed up in "Disturbing Behavior," "Double Jeopardy," and as the President in "National Treasure: Book of Secrets." In 2009, he played the new Pike in J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" and its sequel.

Shortly after, he began voicing Batman in straight-to-video films like "Batman: Under The Hood" and the "Young Justice" animated series. Beyond that, he's popped up in "Mad Men," "The Place Beyond The Pines," and "The Resident." He first started working with modern horror master Mike Flanagan on "Gerald's Game," but also appeared in "Doctor Sleep" and was brought in to replace Frank Langella as Roderick Usher in the Netflix series "The Fall of the House of Usher."