The panel for the Expendables stole the show for me on Thursday. Sylvester Stallone led the charge with his action-packed cast to answer questions from the fans and share stories with us — in no particular order:
Terry Crews told the audience a story about his manager telling him that Stallone wants him for a movie and he was quick to say yes. He arrived at a dark office and heard Stallone’s voice say, “Why don’t you take a seat over there?” Right after he mimicked Stallone’s voice, Stallone leaned towards his mic and exclaimed, “That’s not how it happened!” much to the laughter of the cast and audience.
Dolph Lundgren spoke of when he had to perform a monologue telling a joke he didn’t think is funny; that Stallone kept making him do take after take. Lundgren then said he started doubting himself and questioned if his career as an actor is over since he can’t seem to nail the monologue how Stallone wanted. Days later Stallone mischievously told Lundgren, “Guess what take I used? The first take!”
Randy Couture excitedly talked about how he loved working with the stuntmen. He claimed that he’d smack them around but they’d get right back up with a smile; that the harder he hit them, the more they’d smile.
Stallone was quick to point out that these are 200-pound men who gradually became scared of Couture; men who became on edge if you get too close and said in a high pitch voice, “Get away from me!” Steve Austin then added that Couture put four stuntmen in the hospital before his fight scene with the man, and he was worried to face him. Austin said with a laugh that it turned out to be fun working with Couture and that he’s a gentleman.
Couture then told that the most scary moment filming for him was when he practiced a monologue with an acting coach for five months . . . only to arrive on set and receive rewrites from Stallone which he had to memorize in an hour. In his trailer he nearly freaked out, afraid that he was going to ruin the film — Terry Crews being a trailer away came to his rescue and coached him.
Steve Austin depicted a story of when he had to run across bombs setting off behind him. On a take he began to run but the person controlling the bombs let the first one blow too soon that launched Austin into the air. He barely landed on his feet and kept running, afraid that falling would mean falling on a bomb. “I thought I was gonna die,” Austin told the audience with a laugh. “I thought you were dead,” Stallone quickly added.
Stallone being a great storyteller told of how he believes that getting injured on a set is a good omen; that the movie will be successful because he was hospitalized. He told of how he broke his neck during a fight scene with Austin. He then recounted the time when Lundgren punched him in the chest as hard as he could for Rocky . . . then woke up in intensive care.
Stallone was asked if he enjoys acting or directing more — he told the audience that he now enjoys directing more; that it must be because he’s a control freak. He believes his career as an action star is coming to a close and he really wants to begin focusing on directing action films and bringing in new blood — namely Terry Crews as an example.
He then named off other actions stars he tried to get in the Expendables with the new name thrown out being Chuck Norris. If only.
Bruce Willis made a quick appearance to show his appreciation to Sylvester Stallone for the movie, much to the roaring cheers from the audience. Stallone then told a story about ideas he came up with to have Arnold Schwarzenegger in a scene with himself; then another scene with himself and Willis — who then bluntly told Stallone, “Why not have all three of us in a scene together?” We were told to thank Willis for that.
Stallone earnestly told of how he worked on the last Rocky film without much hope, but really wanted to end the series with dignity. He was surprised with the outcome and thought he should end Rambo on a high note as well. Stallone then bluntly said that he got greedy and made the Expendables, which garnered laughter and cheers from the audience and cast members.