The Expendables 2 reunites the all-star action cast of Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Randy Couture and Terry Crews, while adding Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Nan Yu, and Liam Hemsworth in the mix. It’s a perfect sequel, delivering double the action, double the laughs, and double the fun for the audience. For Couture and Crews, who have backgrounds in the UFC and NFL, making it was a dream gig that they hope to get to do again. We chatted with the two stars during a press stop at the Trump Hotel in Toronto. Read our Q&A below.
How was the production of The Expendables 2 different for you guys than the first film?
Randy Couture: I don’t know about different. It’s a much bigger production. The cast got bigger. It was the biggest movie I’ve ever been a part of for sure. At the same time we’d be getting dressed and looking at each other like, ‘Weren’t we just here?’ [laughs]. There was a familiarity to it. The guys were back. Like the team only went on spring break.
Terry Crews: But we were in a better hotel [laughs]. There were a lot of constraints in the first one. Budget-wise, schedule-wise, we weren’t even in the scenes with Bruce and Arnold. Arnold being the governor he could only shoot on Sunday and there were so many restrictions that Sly was just running out of time. I think The Expendables 2 is the movie he always wanted the first one to be. There were no restraints here. We had the budget, the people, and now we’re adding Chuck and Jean-Claude; Sly wanted Jean-Claude for the first one. This time we had all the buildings. We had an airport. And we blew it up!
RC: And drove a truck through it. And a tank! [Laughs].
TC: It was a free for all. That’s how it felt for us coming from the first one. We knew it was bigger and better.
Are there any similarities to acting and your former careers in the UFC and NFL?
RC: As someone who has made the transition from fighting and athletics in the last six or seven years to acting, there are a ton of things that are similar. There’s a particular mindset that I learned from athletics that I carry over to movies. There’s a physicality to it but there’s also a mental toughness to it. You need to be on, you need to be in the moment, and you need to be coachable and listen to your teammates and cast members. Terry has the same approach and I think it’s one of the things we shared. We both spent countless hours reading our lines so that we knew we were ready to go. You don’t want to be that cat that roles in there not ready. Especially not with that group of guys. They’re all business. They are who are they are because they showed up ready to work.
TC: It’s really weird, but when you look at sports and you see that guy make that catch or shoot that three pointer, it looks easy. And that’s the trick, to make that all look simple and easy. And when you see our comradery on the set and in the movie, all that looks very easy, but it’s a hundred percent grind. I understood why these guys are legends. They’re pro all the way. You also know why certain people didn’t make it or why they got to a certain level and fell off. It takes a lot to have that legendary career. Look at Chuck. He’s 70-years-old. He fought Bruce Lee! But he showed up on set on time and ready to go. You saw the same thing in all of them, which was extreme professionalism.
With so many big action stars in the movie, did working with any of them intimidate you or make you nervous?
TC: I did my first movie with Schwarzenegger, The Sixth Day, which we shot in Vancouver back in 1999. I was extremely nervous. I had to tell him to come off the stairs and I couldn’t say my line. I was so nervous. Something went wrong with the camera so we had a break. I went and cussed myself out and when we went back and they yelled action I was on him. It was intimidating years ago, but now it’s like ‘Let’s go! Bring it!’.
RC: It was definitely a surreal experience. Growing up watching these guys in Delta Force and Missing in Action to Conan the Barbarian and the Die Hard films and Rambo, to now gearing up and running around and shooting with them is definitely surreal. I didn’t find it intimidating though. I met most of them outside of this project and they’re all real guys. We all knew we brought something special to this project and it was cool for each and every guy to be a part of it. I got the sense of that from the top all the way down.
Having so much experience on the sporting side of things, is it difficult being the new guy again?
RC: Yeah, I’m a new guy in this realm of making movies, but I’m a quick study and I pay attention. I’m not going to starve anytime soon so it puts me in a unique position where I can go have fun doing it. I think they appreciate that as it’s a different perspective than the average guy coming in. And I embrace that and recognize where I’m at and where I want to go.
If they make a third are both of you coming back and who else would like to see them add to the cast?
RC: Well Toll Road didn’t die so if they ask I’m there [laughs].
TC: I’m all in. I’m on the lunch boxes, in the afterschool special, The Expendables cartoon [laughs]. I’m in cause it’s just a miracle. To have a movie being made is a miracle and then for it to be a hit is a miracle. This is my first sequel, which is so cool. You’ve got to ride this franchise. And the people will speak and they’ll tell you if they want it or not and if they do I’m there.
RC: We just heard they’re casting the third and they’re talking to Nic Cage, Harrison Ford, and Clint Eastwood.
TC: Doesn’t your mind just go just ‘YES!’
What else are the two of you working on these days?
TC: The Newsroom, Stars Earn Stripes, I did some military stuff for charity. I’m also doing some voiceover work for Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2. Finally something I can take my little ones to [laughs]. And I’m staying ready for The Expendables 3. I really want that to be my next big action movie.
RC: I’m looking for some new roles and I’m up for a bunch of stuff, but it’s a weird business and until you get something signed and it’s greenlit I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut. I am doing commentary for the UFC on Fox and have a big card coming up in October, which will be the last one for this year.
The Expendables 2 opens smashes into theatres on August 17. Check out the trailer below.
Top image: Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, and Terry Crews in The Expendables 2. Courtesy Alliance Films.