The marketing blitz for The Expendables 2 has seen its cast travel the world promoting the film. I attended the London premiere (read about that here) and also went along to the press conference, which saw Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Scott Adkins and Jean-Claude Van Damme answering a variety of questions.
The following transcript isn’t the whole event – but it does highlight the camaraderie that these stars have. Enjoy.
How has the bar been raised for The Expendables 2?
Stallone: On a sequel you’ve lost the element of surprise, so you have to come up with a lot of creative devices to keep the action flowing.
Schwarzenegger: I was happy to be back. For me it was really interesting because one day I was making policies, trying to fix the budget, stimulate the economy and education issues, and the next day you’re on set, having a shoot-out with Sly and Bruce Willis and all those guys.
It’s the interesting thing about my life, to go from one to the other. I was very appreciative that Sly asked me again. I think this movie is going to blow everyone away because there’s so much great action, there are funny scenes. It made me laugh – a lot. There was some comic relief and I thought that everyone’s performance was great.
I felt that the first one was almost impossible to top, but when you see this you’ll agree that it’s bigger and better than the first one. I think that it’s going to be very successful.
Statham: It always has to be – every sequel needs to be bigger and better. The challenge is there. The expectation is that you have to fulfil that requirement. But, If anybody knows how to make action movies it’s Sly. When he gets this crowd together you know you’re in safe hands.
Sometimes there are people who don’t know how to make action movies – and that situation isn’t a good one. When we’re in the company of greats, you relax and know we’re on to something good.
Was making the film a challenge?
Lundgren: Yeah, we shot in Bulgaria for four months, enjoyed tomato salad. The movie is bigger, badder, better and funnier. Sly came up with some good jokes and Arnold had the funniest lines.
Adkins: As a newcomer, it’s just an honor to be asked – all these action legends. For me, I grew up watching these guys. These are the guys who made me decide that I wanted to do this for a living. I’m just extremely honoured to be asked.
Van Damme: When I walk on the street, or in an airport, people are always saying ‘Hey! When is your next movie?’ Because of him [Stallone], lots of us, me at least – I am back to theatre, the big screen.
So, I say thank you to Stallone for putting me back on the big screen, because I’ve got these good eyes and good face and you don’t see that on DVD. We have to overexaggerate it. So, thanks to Sly. Mr Stallone.
Stallone: You’re welcome.
Van Damme: You understand why I call you Mr. Stallone?
Stallone: ‘Cause I’m your grandfather!
There used to be a lot of competition in the old days – how was it working on the project together?
Stallone: Very competitive. No one wants to be second, so everyone pushes very hard. That’s why these people have the reputation they have, because they want to be the best. They usually are.
Schwarzenegger: I have to say, for me it was the opposite. Everyone on the set was very helpful. I’ve been out of movies for eight years, so they actually went a bit overboard, thinking that I don’t know how to hold a gun or throw a punch.
Everyone came together and helped, which was really terrific, but at the same time we were really competitive. I think if you grow up and try to be the best, then you have to be competitive, because the more you compete, the more there is someone there who is a challenge.
Van Damme: I see these guys as inspirations, so I don’t feel like competing. I felt like I was following their example – and to be as good as them.
Stallone: Good answer.
Arnold, you’ve been out of acting for quite a while now. Some say that there are parallels between acting and politics – what parallels have you found?
Schwarzenegger: I think there are a lot. You’re always as good as your last movie, and I think that it is the same in politics; you’re only as successful with different policies, and when you’re not successful, things go south really quickly. Dedication and how to talk to people is the same as show business. In acting class they tell you that you have to be real, connect with the people, connect with your partner. The same as politics, you have to connect to the people. Some politicians talk like they are talking to a wall and they cannot penetrate. One thing that is extremely important is to connect with the people and bring the people in. But there’s a lot of difference also.
For action fans, the highlight if many action films is the one-liners, there are so many great lines in this one. What are the favorites from your careers, and the worst?
Stallone: I guess my best is ‘Yo Adrian’, that’s one thing you just can’t criticize. The worst would have to be, perhaps all my dialogue in ‘Stop! Or my Mom Will Shoot!’
Schwarzenegger: I think that one-liners are very important and sometimes when you make a movie you don’t know that it’s going to be a great line. I remember when we did ‘Terminator’ and we did the line ‘I’ll be back’, I had no idea this was going to be an important line and something that people would repeat. I had an argument with Jim Cameron about saying ‘I will be back’ and he said, ‘No, I wrote it – I’ll be back.’ I didn’t like how it sounded, ‘I’ll,’ it sounded soft. I said maybe it’s more machine-like to say ‘I will be back’, he says, ‘No, I wrote it ‘I’ll be back”. We did it 10 times, did 10 different versions and then we picked one and he says, just say it like this, so I did say the line ‘I’ll be back’ and sure enough when the movie came out and people come up to me and say, ‘Say the line, say the line,’ and I’d say ‘What line?’ and they’d say ‘I’ll be back’ and I’d say ‘I’ll be back.’ They say ‘No, no, no, the way you said it in the movie’ and I say, ‘I’ll be back’. I realized that the line clicked and it was a big line. Sometimes you do know, in ‘Commando’ when I said ‘I lied’, I knew that it was going to be a funny line. I’ve never had a bad line.
Stallone: There it is.
Lundgren: I’ve never had a good line. Well, maybe ‘I must break you’.
Van Damme: Sometimes you can say all bad lines.
Have you given any thought to The Expendables 3?
Stallone: We are thinking about different concepts – the third one is the hardest. The second is the natural progression. The third, that’s when the air gets rare. We’re thinking ambitiously about it…
You now have to give audiences something they don’t expect at all – maybe even going into a different genre. Get out there a bit [to Schwarzenegger], maybe even rip-off one of your other films.
The Expendables 2 is now in theaters.