The ever-expanding Expendables ensemble now brings in younger, fresher faces in The Expendables 3. It tells the story of the elder generation coming into conflict with the new Expendables as well as fresh new foe Mel Gibson’s Conrad Stonebanks. London marks the world premiere of the latest installment in the on-going franchise and The Upcoming caught up with co-writer and actor Sylvester Stallone, producer Avi Lerner, and other main stars Jason Statham, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas and Kellan Lutz at today’s press conference.
The violence in this film seems to be less graphic than the previous two. Was that a deliberate thing?
SS: The idea of a PG-13 rating was to hit a broader audience. In looking at the Bourne’s and the James Bonds’, we thought they’re pretty violent films and extremely graphic. Of course, when we release the DVD then you’ll see the extra 80 frames (chuckles). I thought with the amount of warfare that goes on in this film, after a while the graphic content would become nauseating to watch. Also it would diminish the humour. For example, Kelsey [Grammer] was originally going to die! He said, “Don’t kill me, don’t kill me,” I said, “You’re doing a TV show you have to die!” (laughter) It was going to be an hour into the film that he was going to die, and that was the whole premise; Mel Gibson kills him and now it’s on! We decided to keep him on and have him around.
There seems to be a lot of old and new faces in this film, and a spirit of “passing on the torch”. Could you talk a bit about the new additions?
SS: I felt it was at a point where we needed to upgrade and retool, and bring in actors that are known for their physicality but also who are incredibly dramatic, actors who have done films in almost every genre. Also, the age factor is almost a parental thing: all children think they know the answers and parents have to come in and save them, and then they save their parents. So I had a family situation going on here. What did you bring, my friend?
AB: I brought comedy. I saw the possibilities in the character to make people [the audience] have a comic relief. The character was designed in a way that allowed me to do that. I started to play with that in mind and began to improvise a lot; he is like a compulsive talker. When I saw my fellow actors roll their eyes, I said “Yes, I am there!” and that provokes some laughter. Basically the character is just hiding something painful inside, and that’s his way of dealing with it. It also added more to everything that was on-screen before.
SS: Wesley, what did you feel like you brought to it? We’ve worked together before on Demolition Man.
WS: And I’ve been waiting to work with you ever since. You were busy, I was busy (laughter).
KL: To me there’s a duality between Barney Ross and John Smillee. You never see the young Barney and there is an essence of who John is and how he becomes. Throughout the journey of the script you see him develop.
SS: With Ronda Rousey there was a debate: “Oh, she’s not really an actress, she’s a fighter” and I’d say, “No, she’s a new kind of entertainer.” We’re now becoming like hybrids; some of us write, direct, act and have these other sides. I thought let’s take someone from the world of the MMA. I couldn’t have been luckier or more right. This girl is one of a kind, she’s very sexy and can tie you into a knot, but she’s also charming and raw. She was always learning on the job. We now have a real hybrid of actors and athletes, and not just actors. I don’t think it could have been accomplished with just actors.