The Expendables vs ZOO!
Aren’t you a bit old for this, Sly?
My body can’t take it anymore, so for me it’s all about maintaining the pain and dealing with it. It’s a mental game, how far you want to push yourself, and we had some real competition on set, so you didn’t want to look weak.
What damage did you do?
I hurt my spine and ripped all the tendons in my leg. They had to operate on my shoulders and they wanted to operate on my back while we were filming but I said, 'No way!' We couldn’t afford to close down the set and lose this amazing cast. What makes it hard is that I’m not an agile fighter like Jet Li, I’m more a brawler. So when the production designer forgot to bring any mats and we were fighting on a filthy brick floor, I got hurt. But hey, I guess I just don’t know any better.
So what makes a good action hero?
I’ve always said this: it’s not how you look or how many muscles you’ve got. Often action guys are overlooked – people think you’re just firing guns and that it’s all really easy, but it’s not. The secret is that you cannot be stronger than your opponent. He has to be the toughest guy on screen.
Did you get everyone you wanted?
It would have been great to see Van Damme or Seagal in there… Actually, I asked a whole bunch of guys. I asked Van Damme and Seagal, plus Kurt Russell and Wesley Snipes. Steven and Jean-Claude have got their own things going on, and I don’t think they see the irony in it all. Claude’s in his own universe. When I told him I’d like him to lose a fight to Jet Li, he wasn’t into it.
So how competitive were you with the other action heroes?
We were competitive, but it was always a laugh. I like tough men, and it’s something that comes from an inner core. It has nothing to do with muscles; it’s a feistiness and competitiveness. If you’re with people who are not in your industry, though, you enter a room and everyone moves to the corner. When I go out to non-industry functions with my wife, people think I am Rambo – like I’m going to pull out a pistol and kill everybody!
Did you get a call from Stallone asking you to be in the film, Jason?
Yeah, I got a message saying Sly wanted to talk to me about a film. When that happens, you rush in there as quick as you can. He’s a cinema god! I grew up watching Rambo and Rocky – he’s the most recognised film star in the world.
With all those big stars on set, did you have any good banter?
Sly is a real joker, quite the comedian. He’s almost at stand-up comedy standard – he is that good – so it’s never a serious set when you go and work for him.
We have an image of you all hitting the gym together…
Rubbing each other’s backs and that? Not happening. It’s not like you are dragging somebody out of drama school that has never done a push-up – these people have done physical things most of their lives. Besides, you can’t just go to the gym with them. They’re lifting weights that you wouldn’t be able to move with your car!
How many of your own stunts did you guys do, Dolph? You’re all getting on a bit…
Ha ha! We did a lot of our own stuff. My double had an easy job, man – he’s only in two shots of the whole movie. He was real upset about it, too. There’s something very cool about a more mature man getting pissed off and picking up a shotgun, as well. It’s a lot scarier than when a kid’s doing it. You can always talk a kid out of it, but if you piss off an old guy, you know you’re toast.
Were you excited hearing about the other guys signing up?
I got on-board when Statham and Jet Li were signing, which made the decision easier. Everybody else piled on after that. I kept reading about it, and saying, 'Holy shit! He’s in it, too?'
There’s a fight between you, Sly, Bruce and Arnie. Who wins?
Arnold’s too smart for all of us. He’d figure something out to kill us all! Sly’s in terrific shape, and Bruce would fight dirty. But wait until someone hurts me. Then I go nuts. The Viking howl would come out, and I’m coming out chomping on some magic mushrooms and carrying an axe!
The Expendables is in cinemas nationwide from 19 August
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