It’s always nice to hear how much fun a movie’s cast and crew had on set – especially when the cast is comprised of ten of the hardest, toughest, most bad-ass action stars of the last several decades. This morning at Comic-Con, we got to hear the Expendables crew (including co-star and director Sylvester Stallone) tell all about their exciting, albeit pain-filled, shoot in Brazil.
Here are some of the hilarious and/or cringe-worthy highlights from the discussion:
The panel opens, and co-star Terry Crews is first out of the gate, ripping his shirt off and flexing his pecs.
The rest of the cast begin coming on stage, with one striking absence. “If Arnold does show up, don’t let him in,” says Stallone, who’s been waiting for Schwarzenegger to arrive. “I’ve had it with him.” Not clear if he’s kidding or not.
Stone Cold Steve Austin remarks that he was disappointed when he learned that all the Expendables had been cast, but was so excited when he got a call from Stallone asking him to play the villain that he accepted on the spot. “I enjoyed kicking all these guys’ asses,” he jokes.
Dolph Lundgren (of Rocky IV fame) gets asked which was tougher to shoot – The Expendables or Rocky IV – and he admits that “Rocky IV maybe hurt a little more,” although in The Expendables “Jet [Li] clipped me twice. Stallone agrees that Rocky IV was a memorably painful experience, adding “I wouldn’t wanna do that again – he [Lundgren] put me in the hospital for 4 days.” Ouch.
Still, filming The Expendables was clearly no cakewalk. The production designer forgot to make fake bricks for the movie’s many action sequences, so when any of the actors went flying into a wall of bricks, it was the real deal.
And there’s more: “The constant bombardment, the injury, the infection, the bronchitis… These are the things the audience doesn’t know about,” says Stallone. “They don’t know that fight scene took 4 weeks to shoot.”
The plane we see Jason Statham riding in the trailer wasn’t fake either – Stallone recalls that they found the old plane propped up on crates, decided to repair it, and then flew it in the movie, no CGI required. Statham was apparently unfazed as he stood in the plane’s nose, firing a prop machine gun as they flew at 200 mph.
Of course, Stallone wasn’t exempt from injury just because he’s 64 years old: the director broke his neck during a fight scene with Austin; he now has three screws in his neck. “Now if people say ‘Get screwed!’, I go, ‘I already have!’” he laughs. “In my defense,” Austin says, “when the writer, director, and star says kick the shit out of me, you kick the shit out of him.”
And just in case you didn’t get an appreciable sense of the great danger that the cast faced in order to bring you this movie, Stallone reveals during the Q&A that much of the ammunition and weaponry used during filming wasn’t legal on sets in the U.S. “Terry’s gun could kill you,” he says. One of the larger guns, Stallone adds, fires up to 25 feet. In an earlier movie he claims he witnessed the same weapon blast “a fist sized hole” in Rutger Hauer on set.
The cast apparently ended up at the hospital so frequently that eventually the entire medical staff knew their names. This in an area so dangerous that they required 70 bodyguards on set, in addition to ten of the most intimidating movie stars of all time!
Finally, perhaps the greatest quote of the morning goes to Stallone for the reason he chose to film in Brazil: “You can kill people and blow the whole country up and they’ll say thank you and give you a monkey.” The Brazilian Tourist Bureau should make that their motto.
If The Expendables is half as exciting as its hardscrabble actors and their crazy behind-the-scenes stories, you can bet I’ll be in the theater opening weekend.