Brian Dennehy Dead: Sylvester Stallone Shares Kind Words for 'First Blood' Co-Star Following His Death at 81

Sylvester Stallone has offered his condolences over the passing of fellow actor Brian Dennehy. The two co-starred opposite one another in First Blood, which kicked off the long-running Rambo franchise. Stallone addressed Dennehy's death in a heartfelt post to his Instagram on Thursday.

"The great actor Brian Dennehy has passed away," Stallone wrote in the caption. "He simply was a great actor... He also was a Vietnam vet that helped me very much building the character of Rambo. The world has lost a great artist." He also added the hashtag #FirstBlood in remembrance of their time working together.

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In First Blood, Dennehy starred as William "Will" Teasle, the overzealous sheriff of a small town in Oregon who tries (unsuccessfully) to run John Rambo (Stallone) out of town. After their conflict continues to escalate, it leads to a heated standoff between Rambo, Teasle and quite a few members of the National Guard. The film received mixed reviews at the time, though Dennehy's performance was widely praised by critics.

"The original script, which I read and was working on, had Stallone getting killed at the end of the picture," Dennehy told The AVClub back in 2018. "His character, Rambo — I can't even remember how he died in it. He did not want to be captured. He did not want to have to go back to whatever his post-war life had been, and he was killed."

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After detailing a visitation to a film market in Los Angeles three weeks into production, where a few minutes of footage was shown to attendees, Dennehy recalled that "the response, of course, was sensational, both to what Ted [Kotcheff] directed and what Stallone had done with the character. They came back and said, 'By the way, you're not dying. We're going to keep you alive,' because they were already thinking in terms of the sequel, which turned into, what? Five sequels?"

Denney had passed away at his home in Connecticut on Wednesday at the age of 81. TMZ reported that he died of natural causes, and there will not be an official autopsy. Along with his fans, his daughter, Elizabeth, also shared a touching memorial to her father on Twitter, calling him "Larger than life, generous to a fault, a proud and devoted father and grandfather."