The Expendables are back and this time it's personal...
Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren),Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) -- with newest members Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan) aboard -- are reunited when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) enlists the Expendables to take on a seemingly simple job.
The task looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his band of old-school mercenaries. But when things go wrong and one of their own is viciously killed, the Expendables are compelled to seek revenge in hostile territory where the odds are stacked against them.
Hell-bent on payback, the crew cuts a swath of destruction through opposing forces, wreaking havoc and shutting down an unexpected threat in the nick of time -- six pounds of weapons-grade plutonium; enough to change the balance of power in the world.
But that's nothing compared to the justice they serve against the villainous adversary who savagely murdered their brother. That is done the Expendables way....
The Fan Carpet's Marc Jason Ali was excited to be in the presence of action legends Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jean Claude Van-Damme and newcomer Scott Adkins for the UK press conference of the high octane sequel The Expendables 2.
You absolutely blew us away with the first film, how has the bar been set from The Expendables to The Expendables 2?
Sylvester Stallone: On the sequel you've lost the element of surprise, so you go deeper into the characters on the second one, so as you can't surprise them anymore you have to come up with some weird device to keep the action flowing.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: I was just happy to be asked to be back. To me it was interesting because one day I was making policy, trying to fix the budget problem of the state and the educational issues and the next you are on a film set having a shoot out with Van Damme, Sly, Bruce Willis and all those guys.
And I was really appreciative that Sly asked me again and I think this movie is going to blow everyone away because there is so much great action and there are funny scenes; the movie made me laugh a lot, which is important for an action movie to have some comic relief.
I thought everyone's performance was great and the first one was almost impossible to top but I think you'll all agree that it's bigger and better than the first.
Jason Statham: Well every sequel has to be bigger and better otherwise the challenge isn't there, and the expectation is that for the audience. And if anyone knows how to make action movies; it's Sly, so when he gets this crowd together, you know you are in safe hands.
I think that is very important, and you come across some that don't know how to make action movies and that situation isn't a good one let's put it that way.
So when we are in the company of the greats, we know we are going to do something good.
Was it also a physical challenge for you as well?
Dolph Lundgren: Yeah, it's tough, it always is. We shot in Bulgaria for three months, enjoyed the tomato salads and cold chicken, and as the gentleman mentioned the movie is bigger, badder, better and funnier.
And that's what I try to do with my character, Sly wrote some good jokes, Arnold gets some of the funnier lines.
Scott Adkins: Well for me as the newcomer it was just an honour to be a part of the film with all these action legends, and for me I grew up watching these guys and these were the guys that made me decide that I wanted to do this for a living and I was just extremely honoured to be a part of it.
Jean Claude Van-Damme: You know when I walk down the street or I'm at the airport people come up to me and say 'hey, when is your next movie?' so you have audiences for DVD, for theatrical and some for both and because of him, lots of us, well me atlas I'm going back to the theatre, so to stallion I say thank you for putting me back on the big screen.
Sly, this is a physically demanding role, I understand you picked up quite substantial injuries on the first one, does that put you off and is there anyone in your life that asks you not to do these things because you're taking too much of a risk?
Sylvester Stallone: Yes the doctors said after I had my neck fused for the first one, I had two back operations, shoulder operation, achilles operation, the first movie took its toll and the doctor said 'don't take any rough falls, let a stuntman do it.' But sometimes you just have to, common sense goes out the window, I couldn't help myself, it's a fools paradise for me.
A question for Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean Claude Van Damme, in the old days there used to be a lot of competition between you as action legends, how was it working on a project together? Was there competition on the set?
Sylvester Stallone: No one wants to be second, so that's why we pushed so hard, it's why these people have established the reputations they have and they want to be the best and they usually are.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: For me I have to say that it was quite the opposite, everyone was really helpful; I had been out of the movies for eight years, and they actually went a little overboard thinking that I don't know how to hold a gun anymore.
So everyone came together and it was terrific, but at the same time we were very competitive as you said and I think if you grow up trying to be the best then the better it is, when there is someone that challenges you to be better you get a better performance.
Watching them in their action movies, tried to step it up as well, we always went around comparing who had the most defined muscles, who has the better body, who has the less body fat, who has the biggest gun, who kills the most people, who kills in the most unique way.
Jean Claude Van-Damme: No, no, I mean it was a team, when I see those guys it's an inspiration to me, I felt like following their example.
You mentioned the stuntmen in the film and there's a fitting dedication to the stuntman who tragically lost his life on the set, how hard was that to bounce back from?
Sylvester Stallone: It was very hard, especially for the stunt team, they took it really hard; we shut down for quite a while and it's still something they're going through. It's happened twice before on films that I've been on and it's never easy.
Arnold, you said you yourself you have been away from acting for eight years, some say there are a lot of parallels between politics and acting. What parallels have you found?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Well I think there are a lot, you are always as good as your last movie and it is the same with politics; if you are successful with certain policies then you're hot, if you're successful in bringing down the unemployment rate then you're hot. If you're unsuccessful then things go down hill very quickly.
And communication and how to talk to the people is the same as show business, in acting classes they always say to be real; don't act, connect with your partner, connect with the people, the same is also in politics.
Some politicians act like they're talking to a wall, and they cannot penetrate, I think what is very important is to connect with the people, bring them in as partners, so there are a lot of similarities and a lot of differences too.
With action films, one of the best things is the witty one liners, can you share with us some of your best and possible worse lines in films?
Sylvester Stallone: I suppose my best is 'yo Adrian' and perhaps my worst is all of my dialog in 'Stop or my Mom will Shoot'.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: I think one lines are very important and sometimes you don't even know when you make the movie that it is 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 that this would be an important line that people would repeat. Infact I had an arguement with Jim Cameron cause I was thinking of saying it 'I will be back' and he said 'no, I wrote it as I'll be Back', I said I don't like the way the 'I'll' sounds, it sounds a little soft, it sounds more machine like as 'I will be back' and he said 'no, I wrote it as I'll be Back, can you just say it as I'll be back?' We shot it ten times and picked one, and sure enough when the movie came out people would come up to me and say 'say the line' I was like 'what line' and they said I'll be back' so I say I'll be back' and they say 'no, no like you did in the movie' so I said it 'I'll be back' and they say 'yes yes thank you'.
So that line clicked with the people, and I didn't know when I shot it, and sometimes you do know like in Commando when I speak and I say 'I lied' and then I dropped him, I knew that this would be a funny line, so sometimes you know and sometimes you don't.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: I've never had a bad line.
Jason Statham: You have to have been in a movie people have seen.
Jean Claude Van-Damme: Sometimes you can have a good line or a bad line whatever it is but look [gestures with eyes] so sometimes the eyes say more in a movie than any line.
Arnold, you mentioned that it has been eight years, were there any nerves at all on your fist day of shooting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Well the interesting thing was when I was Governor and I would visit movie sets which I did quite frequently in Hollywood because I wanted to thank people for shooting in California, because it's good for the economy. The United States now offer tax incentives so now people shoot outside of California, so I wanted to thank them and when I'd walk away, the assistant or aide would say 'don't you miss that?' we had just walked off this set where Tom Cruise was in a harness and I said 'No, I'm so happy not to have to be hanging upside down in these harnesses anymore, doing a fight scene over and over, I'm happy being Governor, I can't imagine ever doing that again.'
And then a few years later I'm on a movie set and I'm having the best time, it was just the ideal movie to do when you come back; The Expendables - firstly because you're working with the top action heroes, we work together and the spotlight isn't on me but spread around all those action heroes, so it was a safer way to come back, so I was very fortunate that Sly liked what I did on the first one and asked me to come back for a bigger role.
I had the best time from the time that I got to Bulgaria, and it was difficult for me to leave for my next film which is The Last Stand because I knew these guys would be having more fun for another two or three months, so it was the perfect way to come back.
Question for Sly, you are all used to being the top billing on a movie, were their any egos on set?
Sylvester Stallone: Well I'd like to say that there was because it makes for a more interesting story, but no, you just turn up and do the job. And the key with men like us is very simple; if you give out respect you get respect and if you disrespect them, then you're gonna get that too. It's very, very simple.
But I think a credit to, cause this is a very risky film, is that Avi Lerner has a personal relationship with you, so he's created this environment where the financier has a personal relationship with everyone, so no one feels like a hired hand, they feel like friends, so there is no ego clash.
Are there plans going forward for an Expendables 3 and if so are you inspired by the time of year; to get some Olympians in the movie, one person that springs to mind is Katie Taylor?
Sylvester Stallone: That would be an interesting choice, and if you spread it out. We are thinking about different concepts because the third one is the hardest by far, and we are thinking pretty ambitiously about it at the moment, and she would fit right in there cause we are going for odd choices; you have to.
Give the audience something they don't expect at all like going into a different genre. Get out there maybe rip off one of your old films [looks at Schwarzenegger].
Jason, you are in great shape for the film, what advice would you give people, like what would be your top tip?
Jason Statham: I'm in amongst people that have been in better shape than myself, down the list I'll answer the question, cause I have trained a bit myself, but it's just having the dedication and focus and not to eat the wrong foods. It's a state of mind really, and if you can be good with your diet then that's the fist point and the rest comes easy, the exercise and the commitment and having a good environment, that will take you to a certain point and then obviously you can go on to achieve some great things like some of the Olympians; I can't answer that - I never quite made it, but I'm sure Arnold can enlighten us on how to take it to an extreme level.
Sly and Arnold, how have you adapted the way you train at this point in your careers?
Sylvester Stallone: Mine is obviously going in lighter and more scientific, and using the equipment that they are using with Olympians today, it's actually more fun than just a regular iron game.
Arnold is an expect of the 'ground and pound' more old school. But you've changed your routine a bit too now?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Yeah, I do the curls first now, I think Sly always used a more scientific approach to training, he was always hungry to find what was the latest method, the latest findings and all of that stuff.
He's right that I come from more of the old school, I believe in reps, you know do it every day for an hour a day, I still do the same exercises I did fifty years ago - they still work. I eat the same food as I did fifty years ago and it still works.
I'm addicted, so I have to do it every day, I have to do something everyday and here in London it's fun cause you have the 'Boris Bikes', so we go bicycle riding here and sight see at the same time, having a great time, but to me exercise has always been a part of my life and watching what you eat, cause as you get older it gets tougher - your metabolism slows down, your muscles don't respond in exactly the same way anymore, so when you do action scenes and fight scenes and when you are running around it takes longer to recuperate but so what! It's not like we don't get paid for it and it's not like we don't have a good time doing it, and it's not like we aren't passionate about it.
It's all terrific, no matter what age, we had a great time doing it, and we had a great time working with all the action stars, and this was the fist time working with Jason - he's such a talented actor and so believable on screen, he really shines in this movie, so I'm happy about that, everyone was terrific.
Scott, as the newcomer, were you able to teach the veterans a few new things?
Scott Adkins: No, I was picking the brains of arnold and Jean Claude, I got to train with them, but for me at the young age of thirty six I can feel the joints going, so I'm starting to re evaluate the way I train and go that more scientific route, but as long as you train hard you are going to get results.
Sylvester Stallone: Scott is in the top one per cent of the world of what he does, he's extraordinary, I wish we could have used him more, cause when he's starred in films on his own, he has amazing body and curvature and is co ordination is just staggering. He really is a great, amazing talent.
Scott Adkins: Thank you, Sly.
Sylvester Stallone: Your welcome.
Scott, in a film like this the bad guys are just as important as the good guys, did you feel any pressure when coming in on set with these guys?
Scott Adkins: Sure I was nervous, I'm nervous to be in the presence of them now. But I've played a similar character before, in film called Undisputed 2 and 3 called Yuri Boyka, he's a Russian MMA fighter and he's very intense, there's a lot of fans out there for this movie, it's an underground movie so you have to seek it out. But I knew that that worked, and with The Expendables 2 on the big screen I approached the character in the same way, very intense and as we were in Eastern Europe it made sense to make him from Eastern Europe and I was trying to bring that intensity to the part of Hector. Hopefully I've got the audience to love to hate me, cause that's what you want from a good villain, and we had the end fight; me and Jason so I think it's what fans are expecting really.
You guys practically invented the action genre, but when you started out did you have any role models?
Sylvester Stallone: Yeah, when I first saw Hercules Unchained something snapped in my brain, cause I was very, very thin and I had no direction, I had the usual adolescent insecurities but from that point on I had a real male role model. Of course modelling yourself after Hercules is a tough thing when you're skinny but I was just drawn to heroes like Kurt Douglas and the Vikings. But when Arnold and I got into the action genre there really wasn't an action genre, there were car chases and maybe fist fights but the actual genre grew up around us, we were pretty instrumental in it, but unvaryingly so.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: I remember when I was fourteen, fifteen and physical strength and athletics so I watched Hercules movies, one guy in particular Reg Park a British body builder, he became Mr Universe at a very young age and then he was in the Hercules movies so he was my idol. I read everything about him and followed in his footsteps and trained like him and said if he can make it I can make it.
The was a blue print there basically, this is how you become Mr Universe and get into movies, so I went the same route, so yes he was an idol, he was a very big motivation for me and it gave me a vision of where I could go and how I would get there.
And then there was American stars like Kurt Douglas and John Wayne comes to mind so a lot of the John Wayne movies were very heroic to me, so it was that age and they were very inspirational. I took it a step further than most kids did; I said I'm going to win the championship, I'm going to be in the movies, I'm going to make millions of dollars.
Arnold, you have had such a varied career, what has life taught you?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: I think most of the lessons that I learnt was in sports, I think that's why I always emphasised to young kids get involved in sports cause that's where you learn discipline, and where you learn that you can make it.
I've heard all my life that this is impossible, you can't make it, you will fail and I didn't listen to them and I made it. You also learn how to get up when you fail, when you fall, as we go through life you will never be successful in everything, I remember as a lifter I tried for so long to lift five hundred pounds and I failed and failed and failed, until one day at the German Championships in Power Lifting I did it after ten tis failing.
I remember in politics when we made policy to re district California, and we failed five times, and the press told me 'don't you get it people keep saying no, so give up' I said 'Do you know how many times I failed in the lifting, and I did that' and sure enough in this instance, the sixth time we won. So you learn never to give up. No matter what you do in life, you have to have vision, you have to see your goal, you have to believe in it and have faith in it, and you have to chase it, and then it becomes fun to chase it, if you don't have vision then you have nothing.
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THE EXPENDABLES 2 IS OUT TODAY