When the name of your mercenary team is the Expendables, it’s always a good idea to have some newbie cannon fodder on hand.
For The Expendables 3, writer/producer/star Sylvester Stallone once again recruited fresh meat. In addition to genre icons Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas and Wesley Snipes, Stallone set his sights on a selection of fresh faces from the worlds of film and professional fighting.
Franchise newcomers include Twilight hunk and rising action star Kellan Lutz (The Legend of Hercules), mixed martial artist and UFC women’s champion Ronda Rousey, welterweight boxing champion Victor Ortiz, and emerging actor, writer, producer and stuntman Glen Powell (Ride Along 2). Throw in Emmy winner Kelsey Grammer (Frasier, Boss), and the mixture became as volatile as a Molotov cocktail. At a recent press conference, the new recruits sounded off on the fun – and the occasional hard knocks – of joining Stallone’s team.
Kellan Lutz: We all love shooting guns, and we all love learning new techniques. For myself, I’m a motocross [fan], where every time, every new action movie, I get to learn some new trick. Working with them, and to add Dan Bradley, who’s the master of second unit and stunt choreography, and just compiling both of them together, I think what you have with the first one was the gem of all the action – you had a lot of blood and guts. With the second one, you had the humor. So what Sly has done with this third one, you have a great layering of the action with the comedy, and then with all the stunts, I mean, we’re all athletic individuals. We all live an active lifestyle, so we get to push and push and push, and I think all the stunt guys, with A.J. and Matt and Dan, they all know what we can do, and they push us to do even more. So it gets bigger and louder. We definitely had a lot of fun doing this one.
Glen Powell: It’s also a little bit of a boy’s club. There’s like a lot of pressure to do the stunts yourself. You have to like, “Oh, you want to double?” You’re like, “You can’t go a double.” They’re like, “Oh, really? You want to double?” So there’s this one stunt that Fight choreographer and stunt coordinator] J.J. Perry does where he gets blown off a bridge, and I go, “J.J., that was crazy!” He goes “No, man – that was loco!” He lifts up his shirt, and it’s “loco” tattooed on his stomach!
Ronda Rousey: J.J. was awesome in that he really tried to customize everything to us. I come from an athletic background, and he specifically found a bunch of Judo and Sambo specialists just for me and my fights. And not just Judo techniques for me to do. But in Judo, the person taking the fall is called the Uke, and so he brought in a lot of people that were very proper Ukes and knew how to take a good fall and made things really easy for me, personally. And then it was great just learning stuff. My favorite things was when we got to learn how to clear premises together. We all took turns being point, and they were like, “OK, this is how we do a guerrilla style. This is how you do Army style. This is Marine style.”
Kelsey Grammer: I’ve always wanted to work with Sly. I didn’t know when it would happen, but I’d see him at some party or a mutual friend’s kid’s birthday party or something, and I’d think, “Well, gosh – I wish I could find a way I could find a way to work with this fella.” And we have a good mutual friend named John Herzfeld. I actually kind of went after this, in a way: I called John and said, “Can you get in touch with Sly and say I’d like to be in that next Expendables?” And something worked out … And then I had the best time with them, and it was a revelation to me in terms of just how smart and how improvisatorial Sly can be as well. And generous with his time and generous with his acting – except maybe might change the camera angle a little bit to make me look shorter!
Rousey: I mean, it’s definitely a very different environment that I thought I was going to be like the new kid at the school when I walk into the cafeteria and everyone’s like “You can’t sit here!” That’s what I thought I was walking into. And they’ll probably go, like, “This chick? She’s not even an actress. She’s not even a guy,” or something. I don’t know what I was expecting. I was expecting the worst. And yeah, I felt like a little like the Downy teddy bear when I actually showed up. Everybody was just so welcoming and warm.
Rousey: “It’s a woman!” So yeah, everyone really, I felt, went out of their way to make me feel comfortable, and I couldn’t have asked for a better first project to be on. And I’ve always been the one shaking it down with all the guys anyway. I would have felt more uncomfortable if I were in Sex in the City 4. So I’m really happy.
Director Patrick Hughes: I remember the first thing we shot with Ronda, I actually got beaten up. Ronda’s first time ever on camera was the scene with Sly at a bar, and she’s really super-nervous. I went up and said, “’Well, what do you do before a big fight?” And she says, “I like to spar in my room. I get that nervous energy out.” And I said, “So you need to hit something? Let’s find something to hit.” And she said, “But I want to hit you.” She was like, “Put your arms up.” And I’m thinking, “Ronda’s just going to do this.” put my hands up, and she goes WHAM! Next day, I was getting dressed and my kids were there at the time – my 7-year-old daughter said “What’s that?” And I had this huge black mark. I had a broken rib. And I said, “I got beaten up by an actress.”
Rousey: He didn’t have a broken rib! I didn’t hit anything hard.
Victor Oriz: Her work ethic was just insane, and mine as well. So one day she’s like, “Would you like to do some stand up with me?” I said, “I would love to, but you take it down. That’s a different game – I can’t really defend myself down there [indicates his crotch], but bring it.” So she goes, “All right.” When I fight I’m a south paw, a lefty, so now I’m tricking her. I’m kind of getting her frustrated. I do this little step once, and she goes for it. I do it again, but on the second one, I don’t know what she did: I end up on my back in a second. I don’t know how she shifted the weight, but I’m on my back in like an arm bar thing. And I’m like, “Whoa, whoa! Stop! Stop! Stop the arm bar – I need it!”
Rousey: That wasn’t exactly how it happened. No, no, no: I said I wanted to do clinching drills, and so the whole idea was I, as a grappler, always wanted to close distance, and him as a striker is always trying to maintain distance. Him being a southpaw, I’m like, “Oh, this will be great. We should train this.” And so he’s trying to get away from me, and I’m trying to close distance and grab him – that’s pretty much all we were doing for a while. And he’s like, “I want you to throw me. He was like, I don’t think you could throw me if you wanted to.”
Ortiz: Boy, was I wrong!
Grammer: I know at first there was a surprise that Kelsey Grammer was going to be on this ride, but I’m tougher than a lot of people think – if you know anything about my personal life, you’d realize that! [Laughs] Hands down! I had a great time. We fleshed out Bonaparte to a point where I hope he comes back and maybe he can kick some ass next time – because I’m ready to! I’m working out. I’m punching people on the street, just to see if I can do it.
The Expendables 3 is in theaters nationwide.