There is no shortage of action or nostalgia when watching an Expendables film. The Expendables 3 takes everything we know and love about the franchise and has fun blowing it all up by adding even more crazy characters and making things much more absurd. But that is part of the fun of the film. Sylvester Stallone, Terry Crewes, Jason Statham, and company all return to reprise their respective roles in this action-packed film, which sees the team going up against Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), to co-founder of The Expendables team. The older crew is forced to recruit some new blood in hopes of defeating this new threat, which then turns into a rescue mission.
We recently attended the press day for the film, where Kellen Lutz, Glen Powell, Ronda Rousey, and Victor Ortiz talked about what it was like to be a part of the Expendables franchise. Stallone talked about the film’s legacy, showing a film like in a time of heightened gun sensitivity, and Bruce Willis’ departure. Mel Gibson talked about his involvment, and possibly returning to directing. There’s a whole lot more to be said, so hit the jump for the full interview.
To the new ones joining The Expendables, could you talk about working with your more senior members of the team, training in different fighting styles, the armament, and working with Brad Martin and J.J. Perry?
Kellen Lutz: I think that’s why we love action movies. We love shooting guns. We love learning new techniques, I know for myself I’m a motocross player. Every time, every new action move, I have to learn some new trait. Working with them, and to add to that Dan Bradley who is the master of second unit and stunt choreography, and compiling them both together – I think what you had with the first one was the gem of all the action, you know you had a lot of blood and guts. The second one you had the humor. So what’s Sly [Stallone] has done with this third one was trial and error. With this third one you have a great layering of the action and comedy, and then with all the stunts. I mean we’re all athletic individuals, we all live in active lifestyles – so when we get a push, and push, and push, all the stunt guys, with J.J. and Brad, they all know what we can do, and they push us to do even more. So it get’s bigger and louder, and we definitely had a lot of fun doing it.
Glen Powell: Well it’s also a little bit of a boys club, there is a lot of pressure to like do the stunts yourself, like nobody – “oh you want a double?” “Oh you can’t do a double.” “Oh you really want a double.” So there is this one stunt where J.J. gets blown off a bridge, and I go, “J.J. that was crazy,” and he goes “No that was loco.” He lifts up his shirt and it says “loco” tattooed.
Ronda Rousey: J.J. is awesome. He really tried to customize everything to us. I come from an athletic background, and he specifically found a bunch of Judo and Sambo videos just for me, not just Judo techniques for me to do, but – in Judo the person taking the fall is called ukemi, so he brought in a lot of people that were very proper ukeis, and knew how to take a fall, and making it easy for me, personally. It was great just learning stuff, my favorite things when we got to learn how to clear premises with together. We all took turns like being point – “This is how you do it Israeli style; This is how you do it Army style, this is how you do it Marine style.” The hardest part was with Victor when we have to give commands silently, just silence is something we haven’t seen yet. Dan was awesome with that, he kinda just let me go. If I have the whole choreography memorized every time, it’s hard for me to stop, because I don’t hear him say stop, so they just let it keep rolling, and let me just go through the whole thing every time. He was really awesome to work with, I had a great time.
With the success of the franchise, it has been recently announced that there will be The Expendables 4, can you talk a little bit about that?
Stallone: It’s remarkable that anyone has had three franchises in history, I’ve heard that they’re already working on an Expendables 4, I was just wondering how long do you think this can go on, and do you think it can go on with you being Expendable? Technically after the fifth Expendables you start to wear Dependables.
It’s been announced that you will also play Scarpa, one of the most notorious Italian American gangsters, and when you started out in the 1970s there was the anti-defamation league, so I was wondering if someone like Rocky Balboa changed the Italian American image today so that you can play a role like Scarpa without any protest?
Stallone: Yeah I think so. But whatever Rocky did for Italian image, Pizza has been keeping it going. Unless the pepperoni has been rigged with C4. I think – but then again you have the Sopranos, which is bigger than any Mafia family ever. I think it’s important that it is controversial, because it is a fashionable American culture, and that is the mystique. So you play into that, you honor it. If it’s bad, it’s bad. As long as you have good music in the background.
Wesley Snipes, what made Expendables 3 and Doc the right role for your come back?
Snipes: Well it’s a great oppurtunity to work with the actors that I have always admired. To get up close to them and see them what they are like off screen versus what you see them on the screen, the characters they portray. Also the the chance to get a little crazy. Doc is a medic, but he has been away for about eight years, and he was quite lonely. He kept his own storyline to himself.
Mel and Sly, what was it like in that final fight scene where you got to go fight one-on-one?
Stallone: It was good. There is situations in actual sports, two rivalries that get together, two people that have done really well in their own world, then you say, “I wonder how they would do against each other,” so when that finally happens it becomes an event.
Mel Gibson: King Kong vs. Godzilla.
Stallone: The contact is made, and you do get hurt, the water is freezing, you don’t want to do it again, but you have to do it again. So I have been looking forward to it. And Mel is a great actor. He’s very fast, very strong, and it was great being punched by him.
Gibson: There was no actual contact. Well, it’s kinda like movie sex. But it was fun.
If any of Mr. Snipes, Mr. Stallone, Mr. Gibson, Mr. Statham, if any you could turn any of your older characters into an Expendable, which one would it be?
Gibson: Well the obvious one is the crazy cop from the Lethal Weapon series. I don’t know, maybe that whack job from Conspiracy Theory.
Stallone: Rambo would fit in, but then he would turn around and then kill them all. That’s the downside to working with him.
Statham: Mine would have to be the garden gnome. I did the voice for him in Gnomeo & Juliet.
Dolph Lundren: Well I was thinking Ivan Drago because he has those big long monologues. He talks a lot. He’s good with words.
What happened with Bruce Willis, and what will it be like for you to compete against him with his Sin City sequel?
Stallone: Things didn’t work out, and then Harrison [Ford] came along, and that happens in filing and casting. It’s nothing personal, it sounded like it got personal, and I’m sorry it did sound that way. It was, you know actors talking. I think Bruce Willis is a great guy, and he does fantastically entertaining films, and when he nails it, he nails it big time.
Now with Sin City, ha ha. I must crush you.
Where do you guys see yourself in 10 years?
Stallone: Age is the state of old mind. If you get old enough, you forget how old you are, and that is the best thing, kinda like a fog. Then you get to a point where you forget how old you are, and find yourself watching Teletubbies drunk one night.
Mr. Gibson what was it like for you when you first read the script.
Gibson: It was very involved. There was a lot of characters, and I didn’t know how they imagined to fit them all in. But everybody got a fair shake, I mean there is a lot of people here. So hats off to Sly for enabling that to happen. When I read it, I didn’t read it as the bad guy. I wanted to be the love interest.
Ronda, what was it like to star alongside such a cast?
Ronda Rousey: I mean it is very much a different environment. I thought that I was going to be the new kid at school – when I walk into the cafeteria everyone is like, “you can’t sit here,” that’s what I thought I was walking into. They were probably like, “This chic, she is not even an actress, she’s not even a guy.” I don’t know what I was expecting. I was expecting the worst. I felt like the downey teddybear when everyone showed up, but everyone was so welcoming and warm. Everyone, I felt went out of their way to make me feel comfortable, so I couldn’t ask for a better first project to be on. I always was the one chic hanging out with the guys. I would have felt more uncomfortable doing Sex in the City 4.
How do you find the drive to keep doing what you are doing?
Stallone: I’m not exactly sitting at home playing with pomeranians 12 hours a day, it’s just not what I do. I think you keep going, like an old vaudeville who came and snatched you off the stage, I’m waiting for that so that someone can just hook me. That’s it. Actors want to retire, their usually forced to retire, and that’s a sad thing. Because you really get better as you get older. You may not remember as much dialogue, but your better at it. But were adult children, we are there to perform, and if that’s taken away – I’ve always said that the artist dies twice: the first death is always the hardest, the career death, the creative death; the second death is an inevitability. So I think everyone should just keep going, and I think that’s happening, I think the genre is opening up, and it is providing second acts.
Kelsey, what made you join this film?
I know it is sort of a surprise that Kelsey Grammer would be on this sort of a ride. But I’, tougher than people think, and if you know anything about my personal life, you’d realize that. However, I think we’ve explored an interesting part of the story to tell. It’s a nice relationship. I’ve loved working with Sly. It was a presumptive joy. I’ve had a great time. I think we’ve fleshed out Bonaparte to a point where I hope he comes back for another one, and maybe he kicks some ass in the next one. You know I’m ready too. I’m working out everyday. I’m punching people out on the street everyday to see – you know those punch videos you see, that’s me.
Terry, you get shot in the film so early, what’s up with that?
Terry Crewes: I got kinda busy. There should be a movie about the guy who did the scheduling. It’s like Moneyball. Everybody’s schedules were so crazy, I got to say, I was so happy to be here, and the privilege to work with Wesley, and I got to say this right now, I was in this movie because Wesley did not do the first two, and when I first saw Wesley, I said, “Man I’ve been holding this spot warm for you.” Let me tell you, all is right in the world now that he is in The Expendables franchise. I know Kelesy as a director, and Sly is the Godfather of all us all.
Stallone: I have a story of how close you came to being an Expendable. Literally he was going to die, I could see him he sitting there moping, walking around and moping, knowing in an hour Mel is going to shoot him. It’s a done deal. It was actually like death row, “please I don’t want a lethal injection, I don’t want to go,” And the producer goes to me, “Where do you want to shoot him? The kidney? He can survive that and in one of the legs. He’s got big legs, so he can survive that.” And we said to him, “Terry put down your croissant and finish your coffee because today you survive.”
Crewes: That was one of the best days of my life. I was sitting there in the lobby sweating. I was sitting there like, “Man, I’m going to die. I’m going to die. I’m going to die, we can’t have this!” Let me tell you, I called my agent, I called my brother, I called my wife, and I get to live, I get to move on and do 17 more of these.
What happened to Jackie Chan, will he be in the next one, and will it be a new role?
Stallone: Jackie was on, but it became a scheduling problem. When Terry said about there should be a movie on the guy who schedules the movie, people were coming on set for four days, five days, three days, it was critical timing, everything stopped for them, we’d shift their movie and do their part, and then go back to the film again, and Jackie is just so busy in his regular life, he has so many businesses, he’s so loved in China, he literally couldn’t come for those four days. We’ll get him next time, don’t worry.
Sly and Mel, can you talk about the interaction between you two in the film?
Stallone: Well I had wrote a guideline, Mel can tell it better.
Gibson: I kinda worked on the script, and handed the pages to Sly and Patrick [Hughes], and he looked at it. It was a theme of someone who was subcontracted by this Government, then gets thrown under the bus.
Stallone: It had a reality to it, that’s what Mel was trying to say. What gave it some mark was that he was saying something that had some truth, and it was valid, and he he was committed to it. I don’t think he saw himself as the bad guy. And then you bring in the story of Cain and Abel, the two being best friends becoming the worst of enemies. Because when you love something that much, you can also hate it even more, because of that schism, that break up. He just killed it. I had some dialogue, back and forth with him. The more he did in the scene, the more I realized I shouldn’t speak, I should just let it roll. He convincing himself, he’s convincing me, he convincing the audience, “what you do today Barney? Who’d you kill? What did you blow up? What makes you holier than thou?”
In the era of gun violence sensitivity, does that change how you make an action film?
Stallone: First of all, there is no blood, and ours is so over the top that it isn’t something you’d expect people to repeat. But I know exactly what you mean. It’s a very sensitive thing, we were unfortunately experienced that on the second one. I don’t know the answer because it is part of a mythology, but it is also a becoming a part of reality, that I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to this. We just try to make it so it looks as though as it is a fantasy, it isn’t real. And sometimes I think when you make a movie, some movies get so real that it becomes “I think I can do that.” There’s not a lot of people who can do what the Expendables do.
Sly, you and Harrison Ford basically started your careers at the same time, and now are finally in a movie together, can you tell us a little more about that?
Stallone: Oh God, I go back with Harrison to 1977 when we met at Columbus Circle. Both of us were wondering how long this was going to last. Harrison is very insulated, intelligent, and funny, very funny, very witty, dry humor. When you tap into that it’s great. He also worked on his character in this. He wanted to make it very personal. These aren’t the kind of guys you say, “Here are the lines. Do it or else.” He worked on it. We got very very close. I was actually just talking to him about his leg the other day. I said, “Better you than me.” It was great. We’re having a great old time. Harrison is special, very unique and can bring a lot to a scene with minimal effort. He’s very good.
Mel, do you have any plans to direct anything in the future?
Gibson: Oh yeah, I think the most fun you can have standing up is directing a film. I think my gift is directing, and I’m going to pursue that. I’ve got a few irons in the fire, but it doesn’t pay to talk too much about it because industrial espionage is rife. The minute you say anything, somebody swipes the idea, and it ends up on TV. But that’s OK, too. I’ll direct TV. TV is getting amazing. I definitely have my sights set on more directing, and I will do it.
The Expendables 3 opens in theaters on Friday August 15, 2014.