If the Expendables franchise keeps adding action heroes at its current rate, pretty soon there won't be any left over for anyone else. And if Expendables 2 stars Terry Crews and Randy Couture have their way, that all-star roll call will only get longer.
In the sequel to the instant action classic, Crews and Couture both return to the team of elite mercenaries, bringing the same muscle, ear-shatteringly-loud weapons, and comic relief that was such an integral part of the Expendables' successful formula the first go-around. And while legendary names like Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme join the sequel's already considerable roster, it's that original crew that keeps The Expendables 2 going as the team fights their way through Bulgaria in order to stop a madman (Van Damme) from parceling out five tons of weapons-grade plutonium around the world.
Moviefone recently sat down with Crews and Couture while the two were in Toronto to talk about fighting alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, who they'd love to get for The Expendables 3, and comparing the franchise to Gone with the Wind. (Yes, you read that right.)
How soon after the first movie did you guys know that you'd be doing a sequel?
Randy Couture: There's always talks, rumblings, rumors, you know? There was a rumor that Willis and Schwarzenegger were gonna be in the first movie, and the further we went in, the more we heard about it. And obviously in the first one we didn't get to actually be parts of those scenes, so it was cool in the second one to actually get to be in scenes with those guys. And [now] we heard, "Oh yeah, they're gonna do a third one, what do you think we should do? How about something like Ocean's Eleven?"
Terry Crews: Yeah, with suits on! In a casino!
Couture: Something different, where we're not freezing our butts off in a lake somewhere. [Laughs] But you never really know until it's done, until it's gonna happen. And it sounds like it's gonna happen.
Crews: Yeah, I think that we heard the rumblings. But you never want to get too excited, especially when the internet starts bubbling and all that. Because just remember the Snakes on a Plane debacle. I didn't want the air taken out of me like that. I just said, "OK, let's just stay in the moment. Let's deal with one." And when the first one hit, and it was huge -- and I mean, huge, to the point where I was like, "Whoa, this is crazy. This is the biggest movie I've ever been involved with" -- then I knew that it was true. And when we got the call, I was like, let's go. And so I think [it's] the same thing here, hopefully we can get to 3 and just keep this thing going as long as the market wants.
Couture: 4, 5...
Crews: Yeah, I'll take it.
I think the fans will too, at least judging from the response so far. Is it gratifying to be working on something that people obviously respond so well to?
Couture: Yeah, absolutely. I think that people appreciate the gritty, back-to-basics nature of the film, the retro feel of this style of action. To be part of an ensemble cast with guys like that, it's definitely an honor. And I'm real happy to be part of it.
Crews: The truth is, nobody knows what works. You can put all the elements together and think you got a hit. Every movie that comes out every Friday swears it's gonna be a hit. And some of them work, and a lot of them don't. Most of them don't. That's why when you say gratifying, it is. I've been in a bunch of stinkers. [Laughs] I've been in ones that they were like, "This is the greatest ever!" And it got releases in seven movie theaters, nationwide.
So that's why I take every hit as gold. You gotta save it and savor it, and enjoy it. And milk it. [Laughs] And make it better. I don't think this is anything we can squander. Or just really be flippant about, at any time.
Was it easy getting that old chemistry and camaraderie back again?
Couture: It was like Spring Break. We came back and, "Wow! We got a new bus, and it's a bigger bus. It's actually got a toilet in the back of it too!" It was cool, it was like we never left.
Crews: We were looking at each other, putting on the jackets, and I said, "Man, it felt like last week we were here!" And it did not break, we just got right back into it.
Randy, you were saying that this time you got to actually shoot a scene with Bruce Willis and Arnold -- what was that experience like for you guys?
Couture: It was very cool. It's the icing on the cake, really. You're thinking to yourself, I can't believe it. The buzz on the set the first time all the Expendables came together, it goes up another two notches for the second one. We all come together in this really cool scene, where we're all shooting at Jean-Claude [Van Damme] at the end of the movie. And I heard Bruce Willis saying, "Man, that's a sexy shot." It was something special.
Crews: All I could think about was my grandkids, and my great-great-grandkids, after I'm long gone, for them to be like, "Man, he was there." Because it always gets bigger later. I think even now, you enjoy it, but you know, Gone with the Wind is bigger now then it was back then. It was a hit movie, and it was good, but now it's Gone with the Wind, you know? I think that The Expendables, the whole franchise, is gonna be one of those things that, in 20 or 30 years, people are gonna look back and go, "Holy shit. How did they even pull that off? That's crazy." It's like having every great star of that whole era. And now with Chuck Norris, you're talking about from the '70s, and '80s, and '90s. It may not be repeated.
Is there anyone else you'd love to fight alongside if it gets to a third one, fourth one, and down the line?
Couture: We just heard they're talking to Clint Eastwood.
Crews: [Laughs] See?!
Couture: One of my favorite movies is The Outlaw Josey Wales. All the Spaghetti Westerns, I grew up watching those, I love the genre. And he's a unique character. So how do we fit him into The Expendables? Certainly these are real guys that have lived, that have done real things, and Eastwood fits that mold. So it would be cool to be in a movie with him.
Crews: And I would love to see Nic Cage. I also hear they're talking to Harrison Ford, who's another guy that I would just be like, "Wow." What can you say? That's Han Solo, brother! [Laughs] And also, I could see Wesley Snipes in it, Kurt Russell.
Couture: Jackie Chan. There's a ton of guys.
Crews: Steven Seagal. It can keep getting bigger. Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel. You can bring anybody in here as a villain or [in] some sort of way to expand this world. And we're all open to it. There's nobody that we're like, "Aw, nah." Let's make this bigger and better! We can even go the female route, like Charlize Theron, or Kate Beckinsale.
Couture: Angelina Jolie. There are some females that can really kick butt. We were talking about Gina Carano in Haywire. There are a ton of females out there. We had Yu Nan in this one, and that was a great kind of first female presence for the Expendables. She did an amazing job. And it was cool having that other side of things.
Does adding a woman to the team help bring the testosterone levels down on set?
Couture: You would think, but I think Yu Nan can hold her own.
Crews: The only big difference is that we had to shower. [Laughs] We did. We really had to use some deodorant. The first one, we didn't give a damn. We were stinky and sweating at three in the morning, going all night in New Orleans. And it's 110 there at night. We didn't care. It was like, whatever man. But here, it was like, "I'm a little tart right now." [Laughs]
With all the big names on set, did it get competitive at all when it came to shooting the action scenes?
Couture: Nah. There's really no room or time for that. We're all competitive people, so we all brought our A-game. You don't want to be the dork that's tripping and falling, looking like a knucklehead, not ready, don't know your lines. Nobody wants to be that guy. And these guys all kind of set the standard, in the genre and for this picture. So in that sense, you're hard on yourself and you're competitive with yourself, but there was no kind of showmanship or one-upmanship going on with these guys.
What's more fun for you to shoot, the action scenes, or the downtime where you're all hanging out and busting each other's chops?
Crews: For me, I thought, for this one, the downtime scenes were awesome. Because it allows you to get more into our characters. I think we've already proven physically we can do all kinds of things. You can throw somebody, you can shoot somebody, that was done, it was proven. But I thought we did a great job showing the family aspect of who we are. You can see and care about us more. And once you're invested in us, you're hooked.
Couture: Yeah, I agree with Terry. Like the pizzeria scene, that was just a cool scene. [We] got to show our personalities, show our quirks, our flaws, but at the end of the day, our personality as characters. And I think for all of us, the physical is what we do -- that makes us smile, certainly -- but we can probably all do that with our eyes closed. Those are fun days, but the truly, really cool scenes are the downtime scenes when we're poking fun at each other.
'The Expendables 2' opens in theaters on August 17.