Sylvester Stallone, who's back in action, playing a mob enforcer in Get Carter (opening Friday), swears his three-year break from the movie biz has made him better than ever.

"I didn't think I needed the time off, but it probably worked out for the best," admits Stallone, last seen in the critically acclaimed Cop Land. "For a long time, I felt like the character I play in Get Carter — a little bit disenfranchised and wandering. I think I needed to settle down and find out what's really important in life."

After two failed marriages (Sasha Czack and Brigitte Nielsen), the Rocky star tied the knot with former model Jennifer Flavin and became the proud father of two daughters, Sophia Rose and Sistine Rose. "I have a home base with two beautiful little kids, and it affects my acting," he tells TV Guide Online. "I have a relaxed, thoughtful kind of emotionality I never had before. I thought I was past that. You're in your 40s and you think, 'Maybe I've peaked with my creativity.' Then, I found out that it's what happens off-camera that feeds your creativity."

"The more you live, the more people you meet, the more emotions that are stirred up, the better the actor you're going to be," he adds. "I have to say my private life and the love I found have affected me professionally."

To hear Stallone tell it, big bucks and fame are now taking a backseat to being a daddy. "I say to everyone who will listen, it's not the money; it's love, the look of a child, the peace of mind you can have. That's what I discovered in the past three years and no matter what happens in the future, I'm finally at peace with myself."