Edmonton artist thanked by Hollywood icon after carving life-sized sculpture
EDMONTON -- A Hollywood superstar is praising the work of a local wood sculptor after he created a statue of one of the actor's most recognizable roles.
Ryan Villiers has carved all kinds of wooden creations in his southwest Edmonton home, everything from wildlife to wildly popular characters like Norm from Cheers.
"Norm's been here for a while, he keeps me company," joked Villiers.
Villiers was asked by Hope, B.C.'s tourism department to make a life-sized statue of the character John Rambo that Sylvester Stallone played in the movie First Blood, a movie that was filmed in the small B.C. town.
"Couldn't make him scrawny," Villiers laughed.
After the statue was unveiled, the actor shared a photo to his 12 million followers on Instagram and tagged Villiers saying, "Thanks to the artist."
"It's pretty humbling. That was the icing on the cake," said Villiers.
The life-sized carving took Villiers almost two months to complete, with more orders coming in.
"It's a big turning point, I've already got some inquiries for some potential big projects in the last couple days. It's nuts."
You wouldn't be able to tell from looking at Rambo, but Villiers has only been carving for three years. One day in 2017, Villiers came home from his job as a heavy duty mechanic and saw a show on wood carving while watching TV. It inspired him to go out and buy a chain saw and start this new career.
"I was working on big trucks, not liking my job whatsoever, and it's weird what a chainsaw and wood has taken me."
It hasn't always been easy, Villiers has a "wall of shame" to prove it, but in three years he's gone from a mechanic to a master carver, whose work is becoming known around the world.
"Nuts, nuts, I can't absorb it. I don't get it."
First Blood is the first movie in the Rambo series, and was released in 1982.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Graham Neil.