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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 3)

"People ask, ‘Is it torture?' and I have to say, yeah, it is," says Stallone, who put himself through the process before filming the scene with the actress. "Is it horrible? Yeah. As soon as they start pouring water and it gets up your nose, you have no chance. You panic and start to breathe through your mouth-and then you start swallowing water, too. But she was great-she did it three times."

Stallone seems surprised when it's suggested that, given the politics surrounding the interrogation method, the film could arouse controversy.

"I do think it's going to sway a lot of people who might be on the fence, who will say, ‘This is pretty barbaric'," he says.

But it wouldn't be the first time one of his films became a source of provocation. His Rambo: First Blood, Part II (1985)-in which John Rambo went back to Southeast Asia to rescue MIAs and POWs and uttered the line, "Do we get to win this time?"-drew kudos from no less a critic than former film star Ronald Reagan, who happened to be president of the United States at the time.

"Reagan said, ‘Rambo's a Republican'," Stallone recalls. "He said that, after seeing Rambo, he knew what to do in Libya-and my blood ran cold. He took a fictional character and turned it into a philosophy."

For The Expendables, Stallone envisioned a scenario in which several of the stars with the most distinctive fighting styles would be pitted against each other. So there are a pair of Jet Li-Dolph Lundgren encounters (Lundgren, a third-degree black belt, is a former captain of the Swedish National Karate Team); the showdown between Stallone and Austin; and a final flesh-pounding battle between Austin and mixed martial arts ace Couture (a five-time UFC champion).

"It's like ancient Rome with the gladiators, where you might have a guy with a short sword fighting a guy with a trident," Stallone says. "It's brutal."

Austin wasn't quite sure what he was getting into when he faced off with Couture for their fight scene.

"In wrestling, we try to make it look violent but we take care of our opponent," Austin says. "That's the opposite of UFC. I was glad to fight with him-but I was glad it was a movie fight."

Says Stallone, "What Randy does-well, the stunt coordinator said it was one of the few times he was frightened. When Randy pulls you in, it feels like you're about to be crushed by an anaconda. We had to tell him to go easy on the stuntmen."

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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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