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With this unparalleled collection of some of the hardest-hitting, highest-kicking, down-and-dirtiest stars ever seen on screen all gathered to tell the story of ‘The Expendables 2’, in theaters August 31, it had everyone on set thinking about just what these remarkably diverse stars share in common – what makes for an action hero?
Certainly they each possess their own version of mad skills, tough-talking attitudes, savvy senses of humor and drive for one kind of glory or another, but it seems something more ties them together under the skin – perhaps it’s an ability to make audiences believe they will stand up for basic justice and righteousness no matter what mayhem comes their way.
Sylvester Stallone says of an action hero’s essence: “It’s not muscles. It’s not incredible athletic ability. I think it has to be something that the audience can relate to – someone touchable, approachable and real. Maybe even somewhat flawed. The hero has to be part of the audience. I really think what makes an action star is the audience’s desire to mentally shove the character forward.”
Director Simon West agrees, “I think a great action hero needs to be vulnerable. If they’re unbeatable, they’re hard to relate to – and that’s what is so great about all the Expendables. They’re always just on the ragged edge and they could fail at any time. I think the audience likes that and that’s key to why they root for them.”
As the cast came together for ‘The Expendables 2’, the atmosphere on set was truly one-of-a-kind. “Pulling together this high-octane mix of alpha-dogs on the same set has never been done before,” admits Stallone. “Nobody on set wanted to be outdone. So, when we were in our 12th hour of shooting for the day, and the time came, they were all bringing their A-games. It was pretty remarkable.”
Producer King-Templeton adds, “All these guys that we have in the film have done some of the best action movies ever made, and are masters of their own arts, so you get them all together in one room and obviously they’re going to be competitive. It was fun to watch – and see who was going to outdo the other.”
Dolph Lundgren says of the good-natured but gung-ho competitive spirit on set, “There was definitely some competitiveness, not just physically but also to do good work. It raises the quality. When you see that list of names on the call sheet it’s almost like you want to frame it and stick it on the wall someplace. I’m sure a lot of the cast and crew will, because I don’t think this will ever happen again.”
Jason Statham, too, was awed by the chance to work daily with a veritable Mount Rushmore of action legends at his side. He sums up the experience with three words. “Stallone, Bruce, Arnold,” he quips. “There it was. They were there along with the rest of this massive line-up and it was a great feeling to see my name with theirs. It’s an amazing privilege.”
Image Courtesy of Expendables