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article imageJason Statham does another tour of duty in 'The Expendables 2' Special

By Earl Dittman     Nov 25, 2012 in Entertainment
For a second time around, Statham, the English action star of such films as 'Safe,' 'The Transporter' and 'The Mechanic', talked about joining Sly Stallone and a cast of other iconic & current action heroes in the explosive sequel 'The Expendables 2.'
When British-born movie action star Jason Statham (The Transporter trilogy, Crank, Death Race and The Italian Job) was asked by director Simon West (Con Air, The General's Daughter, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) if he would be willing to return as the character of Lee Christmas in the sequel to the mega-successful 2010 box office smash The Expendables, the one-time championship swimmer didn't hesitate in immediately giving his former boss (West directed Statham in The Mechanic) an answer. "All Simon had to say was, ‘Sequel and The Expendables,’ and I was like, 'Did you really have to ask?," Statham fondly remembered, during an interview this past August. "I didn't need to see a script or know anything about the story, I was just excited that I was going to be a part of the whole experience again. All I wanted to know was if Sly (Stallone) was still involved. When Simon said that Sly was, I asked him, 'Okay, where and when do you need me? I'm in!’"
Although action star, screenwriter, cultural icon, producer and filmmaker Sylvester Stallone cowrote and directed the original The Expendables, the Oscar-nominee (Rocky) decided to hand the directing reigns over to the vary capable hands of West for the second installment of the action extravaganza. "I didn't care if it was Sly or Simon was directing the sequel just along I was going to get the chance to share some more of those funny scenes with Sly that we had in the first one," Statham explained. "They were my favorite things to do, and I could spend hours and hours doing the scenes with him. I would not have passed up being a part of The Expendables 2 for any reason whatsoever. The chemistry that Sly and myself have has always been the fun stuff, especially the dialogue and the banter that he and I share. That’s my favorite stuff to do."
Jason Statham  Sylvester Stallone and Terry Crews in a scene from  The Expendables 2
Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone and Terry Crews in a scene from 'The Expendables 2'
A sequel to the huge blockbuster hit, in The Expendables 2, Stallone and his impressive team of legendary action heroes take fans on another intense adventure with his rogue team of misfits. Reunited for what they think should be a quick, in-and-out mission, this tight-knit band of old-school mercenaries are about to find themselves at the brink of global disaster and are driven to make this mission personal. In addition to Stallone and Statham, The Expendables 2 features an all-star team of the most bad-ass classic action stars of all time including Bruce Willis (the Die Hard franchise), Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator, Total Recall), Jet Li (Hero, Romeo Must Die), Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV, Universal Soldier), Terry Crews (Terminator Salvation, Gamer), Randy Couture (Setup), and newest cast members Chuck Norris (Walker, Texas Ranger, The Delta Force), Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games), Scott Adkins (The Bourne Ultimatum), Jean-Claude Van Damme (Double Impact, Timecop) and the first female Expendable, Yu Nan (In Love We Trust).
The Expendables 2 (co-written by Stallone and Richard Wenk) is the story of Barney Ross (Stallone), Lee Christmas (Statham), Yin Yang (Li), Gunnar Jensen (Lundgren),Toll Road (Couture) and Hale Caesar (Crews) – with newest members Billy the Kid (Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan) aboard – being reunited when Mr. Church (Willis) enlists the Expendables to take on a seemingly simple job. The task looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his merry band of 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 r 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.
"When you are making a film specifically for fans of action movies, you have to come up with some really interesting fight scenes and make sure the action is really good, and I think we did that with The Expendables 2," Statham admitted. "For me, as an actor, doing this sequel was really kind of easy. Mainly, because you know what you’re doing, you know the characters, you know what’s required and you know what works from the last one and what doesn’t work. It made the job even more fun. I had a great time doing it, and everyone else did, too."
This past August, Statham sat down to talk about the making of The Expendables 2, what it was like spending more time with Stallone, West, Willis and Schwarzenegger, he revealed if any of the older action stars complained about the more strenuous sequences and he offered up his feelings about doing a third installment of The Expendables (tentatively scheduled for a 2014 release date).
Jason Statham as Lee Christmas in  The Expendables 2
Jason Statham as Lee Christmas in 'The Expendables 2'
What were some of the things that you discovered about Sly, working with him for a second time around? Did he do anything that surprised you?
"Well, I had spent a lot of time with him already. We made the first movie and then we did a big press tour, and we went to so many places, so I’ve shared a lot of stories and a lot of time with him. He’s a good friend. I’m not going to try and spill any secrets, because he doesn’t have any. He’s just a regular guy who happens to be a great filmmaker and a brilliant actor. It’s nice to know someone like that."
Is it Stallone’s sensibility to make sure everyone in the cast hits all the right notes? Isn't he kind of the captain of The Expendables ship?
"Absolutely, he’s the conductor. He likes to be that. No disrespect to Simon West, because he’s the director of this film, but Sly creates these characters and he writes them, so he knows them inside out. If you’re not hitting the right note, he’s the first person to tell ya!" (laughs)
Was it kind of a relief for Sly to have Simon West come in?
"Yeah, I mean it’s a big responsibility. A director’s work is so many months. You’ve got the pre-production, the location scout, so many rehearsals… You basically eject yourself from living a life and immerse yourself in this movie for two years. Sly didn’t want to go through that again. It was great that he could pull back a little bit and give that great influence in the places that it needed."
Simon seems such a multi-tasker and a bit of a control freak to begin with, was he able to pull back?
"There was a great combination of two minds coming together. Simon is the director and he sets up the shots, but there’s a great collaboration that takes place, because Sly is a director, too. If someone isn’t seeing something, then someone is going to bring that up. The collaboration is a great thing."
With The Expendables 2, this is your second time working with Simon West, as well, so what was different this time around?
"He had a lot more on his plate! (laughs) Doing The Expendables 2 was a big responsibility. To manage that lot and keep everybody happy is a difficult job. It’s a big mountain to climb."
Was it fun to have Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger on the set a lot more for this film?
"Yeah, they basically did a cameo in the last one. It was a day’s work for the pair of them. This time they had some good innings."
How long did it take Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris to adjust to being the new guys on the set?
"I wasn’t around much for Chuck. But, look, they know what they’re doing. This whole movie is a bit of a wink to certain films they’ve all done. Arnold comes in and says, 'I’ll be back,' and 'Hey, I’m back!' There are all these sort of homage moments that come, and I don’t think anyone is scratching their head to try and create a character. Their characters have already been established."
How much rehearsing and sweat went into the fight sequence between you and Scott Atkins?
"Not as much as I would have liked. Normally, you get three or four days of rehearsals and then three or four days to shoot. We had no rehearsal. (laughs) We had a day to shoot. It’s quite frustrating, because Scott Atkins, to me, is one of the greatest onscreen martial artists there is. I wanted a little bit more, because I think we could have done a bit more. You always want more. No matter what you’re doing, I think that’s what drives any of us. I never know when I’m going to fight Scott Atkins again."
When the cameras where not rolling were the older guys trying to keep up with the younger guys? Did they come to set the next day with a little limp – smelling like Ben Gay? Was everyone putting on their best game-face to keep up?
(Laughs) "You never see any signs of pain. If someone has got a twisted whatever, no-one is going to show that sign. 'No, I’m fine.' A lot of the stuff that we do, the ego gets thrown out of the window. Everyone has made their stamp in some way, so there is nothing to prove. We just want to get stuck in together. So there is a good feeling about it. No-one is trying to fight for the camera here. The better everyone else looks the better we look. So, it’s one of those feelings."
So, none of your more mature costars walked around the set going, "I’m getting too old for this shit?"
(Laughs) "You think that would have come out a lot. I think I’m the only one who says it! I’ve actually said it more times, than you would might imagine." (laughs)
Are you looking forward to being a part a third installment of The Expendables (which may also include Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford and Nicholas Cage in the cast, if Stallone can reportedly convince the trio to become a part of the team)?
"Very much so. Of course, it depends on how many people go and see this one. The audience dictates whether you’re allowed to make any sequels. They are the ones who control it. But, I have a good feeling about it. I think we might talking about a third sooner than we both think."
The Expendables 2 Blu-ray and DVD Bonus Features: Audio commentary with director Simon West; The Featurettes “Gods of War: Assembling Earth’s Mightiest Anti-Heroes,” “Big Guns, Bigger Heroes: The 1980’s and the Rise of the Action Film,” “On the Assault: The Real-Life Weaponry of The Expendables” and “Guns for Hire: The Real Expendables”; Deleted Scenes and a Gag Reel. ON THE INTERNET: Visit the Official The Expendables 2 Site @ * Head to the Official The Expendables 2 Facebook Page @
To learn more about the life and career of English action star Jason Statham in an interview conducted earlier this year – in which he talked about his solo action flick Safe, the upcoming drama Hummingbird and The Expendables 2 – exclusively on Digital Journal, click on the link
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