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The Underdog

Sylvester Stallone returns to the big screen in The Expendables, where the action hero fights against all odds to overcome the bad guys.
Marshall Fine
From the Print Edition:
Sylvester Stallone, July/August 2010

(continued from page 2)

Just to cross-pollinate the audience further, he rounded up performers who were already major figures in a universe other than Hollywood-Couture, Austin, even Jet Li, it could be argued-to give the film the kind of want-to-see factor to crossover beyond the action-movie audience that ensures a big opening weekend.

"The hard part was putting together a team where everybody is somebody, where everybody is known and has a following and isn't an X factor," Stallone says. "They've all got an ongoing relationship with the audience. People want to compare this to The Dirty Dozen, but in The Dirty Dozen, with the exception of Lee Marvin, they were still mostly unknowns. Telly Savalas? Trini Lopez? Unknown then. Even John Cassavetes wasn't a big star."

The Expendables also features a casting coup of sorts: a scene which, for the first time, puts Stallone on the same screen with his old box-office rivals Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis.

"It was Bruce's idea to have us all in a room, nose to nose for one scene," Stallone says. "I give him total credit. But we were only finally able to shoot it four months after the rest of the movie wrapped. We shot it at 4 a.m. and four hours later Arnold was on to his political duties, we struck the set-and it was like it never happened."

Dolph Lundgren, who was a Swedish engineering student when Stallone plucked him from anonymity to star in Rocky IV as Russian boxer Ivan Drago, says that Stallone brings the same intensity to the set that he did 25 years ago.

"He's still in great shape," Lundgren says. "He's mellowed out a little but he's still very driven when he works. He challenged and inspired us as actors. You watch him and you want to do your best. Plus, when you're in a movie with that many talented people, it makes you work harder. Having that many famous actors in one movie gives it a special feeling that's quite unusual."

For Steve Austin, just the opportunity to work with Stallone-let alone pound him into submission-was thrill enough.

"I'm a huge Sly fan," Austin says. "I've seen all of his movies. So when I heard he wanted to talk to me, I didn't know what to think. But right away, when I went to his office, we started talking about working out. And he's a big wrestling fan. So we had a lot of common ground."

The Expendables stars Stallone as the aging head of a group of mercenaries, who are offered a job removing the dictator of a small Latin American island republic. But, while doing reconnaissance on the island, Stallone and partner Jason Statham are spotted; as they're making their escape, Stallone offers to take his guide, a spirited young female revolutionary, with them. She refuses-and Stallone eventually decides he has to go back and rescue her, if only to salve his conscience for the years of black ops and other hired killing he's done.

At one point, the young female freedom fighter is questioned by the dictator's men about the whereabouts of Stallone's character. When she refuses to talk, they lean her back, cover her face with a towel, then pour water over her face-trying to elicit information by waterboarding her.


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Comments   1 comment(s)

stantine972 October 9, 2010 9:01pm ET

Mr Stallone, I have enjoyed you through your whole career and still look forward to your next project. Thank you. Keep the movies coming and thanks for actually smoking a cigar for the cover of "Cigar Aficionado" magazine. Cigar Aficionado, thank you for interviewing a cigar smoker.


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