Expendables 4 Interview: Producers Discuss Sylvester Stallone, Rambo Sequel

ComingSoon’s Jonathan Sim recently spoke with Expendables 4 producers Kevin King-Templeton (Creed, Rocky Balboa, Rambo: Last Blood) and Les Weldon (Angel Has Fallen, Hellboy, The Hitman’s Bodyguard) about their new movie, Sylvester Stallone, and other projects they’re attached to and would like to make in the future. The film is out in theaters this Friday, September 22.

ComingSoon’s Jonathan Sim recently spoke with Expendables 4 producers Kevin King-Templeton (Creed, Rocky Balboa, Rambo: Last Blood) and Les Weldon (Angel Has Fallen, Hellboy, The Hitman’s Bodyguard) about their new movie, Sylvester Stallone, and other projects they’re attached to and would like to make in the future. The film is out in theaters this Friday, September 22.

Jonathan Sim: So this is the fourth Expendables movie, and the cast is a little bit different from what we saw for the first three entries. So I wanted to ask, what was your initial reaction when you found out that franchise veterans, like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jet Li wouldn’t be returning for this one? And how’d you go about filling that gap?

Kevin King-Templeton: Well, we knew they weren’t gonna be in it. We based the characters and the actors around how the story was developed. It’s not to say that people don’t come in and outta the franchise, but each Expendables is a modular movie, and it’s all based on the story. One guy may be front and center, and one may take a backseat and another one. So it’s all based on the story, on the script.

Les Weldon: Yeah. And we have our core group, and there are other characters that come
in and out and whatnot. But at the end of the day, we needed these Expendables movies to be story-driven and not just actor-driven. You know, you suddenly get an idea, I want to put this actor in the film, but there’s not really a place for him necessarily, depending on what you’re trying to do with the story and not, and that’s why these new characters and these new actors that we brought in, (like) 50 Cent and, and Iko (Uwais) and Tony (Jaa) and Megan Fox, they all fit with what we were trying to do with the film. And the script was in development for a long time, and we knew we needed to get good characters bigger than life. And we were very fortunate to get some legendary Asian stars and Megan to really help bring the Christmas character forward and whatnot.

Which one of the new Expendables actors in this movie surprised you the most with just how well they fit into this established franchise?

Templeton: Well, Tony (Jaa), I think was, I mean, Tony and Iko (Uwais) are legends, absolute legends, right? Tony is now an Expendable. Iko was on the other side, but they both slotted in so perfectly. I mean, Expendables is a full-on action picture, and they’re action actors, so it was seamless having them in there. I mean obviously, there’s a lot of action, a lot of fight scenes in there, which is why we had them. And the story was driven around them but around the fighting sequences. So when it comes to how seamless they were, whether the story was
written around them, it was basically—The Expendables is an action film, so it was written around actors that can have the weight and have the persona to do this kind of thing. We’ve always had Tony Jaa in mind, and getting Iko was a real find. We were lucky to get Iko, I mean, The Raid? Oh my God, never seen action like that. I must have watched that 14 times. So
having him in the movie, fantastic.

Weldon: You get guys like that and you’re gonna pair them up with your own guys like Jason (Statham), and there’s gonna be eventually a collision there. It makes it that much more exciting for the story and the fans. And because the fans then can’t wait to see these guys in action, whether on the good side or the bad side or whatever it is. To me, it just really helps elevate the movie.

(embed)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhlaBO-SwVE(/embed)

I think the lifeblood of this franchise has always been Sylvester Stallone, and you have both worked with him extensively in the past. So what is he like as a collaborator that makes you want to keep working with him?

Templeton: He’s a great collaborator. That’s why he is been so successful. You know, he wrote and directed and starred in the first one, started it all off. And even on this one, he dug in, was doing a lot of writing himself. He’s a filmmaker, and he is a problem solver. Jason loves his writing. Jason loves Sly’s dialogue. They’re very good together. Sly’s got a beat on Jason’s rhythm and his cadence and his lines. Sly has been one of the most collaborative people on all these four movies, no matter what role he has taken on it, how long he’s been in it. And, you know. Obviously, in the first one, it was all him. Second one, someone else directed it. Third one too. This one, a little different. But he still had a massive thumbprint on the script and on the movie.

Are there any actors that come to mind that you would want to appear in a fifth Expendables movie?

Templeton: Let’s get the fourth one out first. *laughs*

Weldon: Yeah, let’s. We don’t like to really look ahead that way. Again, it’s more like, let’s see the fans; that’s why we’re doing this. We’re not doing it for ourselves just to make another movie. So Kevin and I can say, oh, we’re gonna do another Expendables. We’re doing this for the fans. And if the fans really like it and really wanna go, then we’ll start thinking, what can we do? What can we give them?

Templeton: It’s a fan-driven franchise, Jonathan. You know, if there’s an appetite for it, we’ll make it,

In 2014, it was announced that Stallone will be starring in this movie called Scarpa with you attached as producers. Would you be able to share any update on this project?

Templeton: Oh, that was just a development. I mean, IMDb is a self-reporting site. So, you know, I don’t even know how that got put up there. I mean, there were a couple of meetings
that I had with Sly, but it didn’t come to anything. And then Sly’s done his own Mafia thing. He did Tulsa King. Scarpa was an old Mafia movie, so that was about 10 years ago.

Weldon: We’re not sure where it is at this point. *laughs*

You’ve both worked so extensively in Hollywood before. You’ve produced so many incredible movies, and worked in so many different franchises. Looking back at both of your extensive filmographies, are there any potential sequels to your previous films that you would hopefully like to make in the future?

Templeton: Hmm. I think Rambo, I’d love to do another Rambo.

Oh, I’d love to see another Rambo. That would be amazing. What about you, Les?

Weldon: The same. Rambo. I mean, there’s several different franchises that we’re on, and we’re thinking about for the future. And as well as new projects. You know, it’s, again, it becomes a matter of if, if there is a demand from the fan base, we’ll be the first ones to jump
on there, which is why Expendables is happening again. Sometimes Kevin and I will say, “well, I don’t know if there’s gonna be another.” And then the demand comes up, and people are asking, and asking and asking. Buyers are asking, and that was the case with this. And so we took this very seriously to develop this, you know, so that we would do it right. And yeah. And give them something they wanted.

(embed)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hi4paTOZD-Q(/embed)

This is the franchise that keeps on giving ’cause we have so many of these awesome actors, and they’re all bringing their personas into this, into these movies, and that’s the fun.

Weldon: And that’s the thing: there really isn’t another franchise quite like this, where you can have 10 different real big actors together and all be able to share at the same time. You know what I’m saying? That’s the difficult part. Sometimes, it’s all the scheduling, and then it’s making sure the script can give to all of them so nobody really feels left out and make it work that way. It’s a tough job.

I think we’re all sitting here because you love action movies. I love action movies, especially throwback action movies. So what is your favorite throwback 80s/90s action film?

Templeton: Ooh, that’s like asking what’s your favorite meal? I mean, it’s usually the one you’ve got in front of you at the moment. That’s a tough question, Jonathan. I mean, there’s a lot. I mean, I love the Die Hards. I love the Rambos. I love the James Bonds. Listen, I’m a fan of action, adventure, escapism, you know, I might want to go somewhere on a Saturday night and sit there and watch a movie, just escape for a couple of hours and see some good old kicking, some good fight sequences, some good locales, great scenery, some good fights. Yo escape for a couple of hours, life’s too serious sometimes. Sometimes you just need to get out of your own environment for a while and just be entertained. So they’re the types of movies I like, and they’re the types of movies I hope to make. Hopefully, Expendables 4 is one of them. I mean, we do our best. You put your best foot forward and hope it, like Les says, like giving birth, and you hope when the baby comes out, it is healthy and happy. Yeah, absolutely. So they’re my favorite action pictures. I mean, I’m like you, I’m an action fan. Yeah.

Weldon: I mean, I can lap up action, as Kevin mentioned, from First Blood to Die Hard to The Dirty Dozen, it doesn’t matter the decade. And for me, I’ve been very lucky and fortunate that I’m part of this Expendables franchise because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And it’s something that 20, 30 years from now, people will look back and go, “ah, The Expendables. That was great.”