Sylvester Stallone’s first Expendables and its sequel were the most commercially successful movies he had done in years and of course revitalized our favorite action stars of the ’80s and ’90s, but making the movies wasn’t a cakewalk. The process of getting that many high-profile — and not so high-profile — stars to make time in their busy schedules for the same movie wasn’t an easy process, and it was plagued with injuries and scheduling conflicts. In anticipation of the Expendables’ third mission, here are 12 obscure facts about the making of the first two action blowouts.
1. Mickey Rourke took the role as a thank you to Sly. The ’90s were not kind to Mickey Rourke’s career — or his face. He was doing movies like Exit in Red, Another Nine & a Half Weeks and other titles that you’ve never heard of. He started to make a small comeback with parts in The Rainmaker and Buffalo ’66 and the 2000 crime thriller Get Carter, which Sly campaigned get Rourke a role in (and even offered to pay his salary himself).
Rourke was working on Iron Man 2 during most of the Expendables filming, but swung by the Expendables set for 48 hours to shoot his scenes.
2. Sly is a fan of the Chuck Norris joke. Sly loved the Chuck Norris facts of 2007 just as much as anybody, and wanted to find someway to incorporate one of them into the script for Expendables 2. It was Norris’ wife that suggested they use the one about the cobra. (“Chuck Norris was bitten by a cobra, and after five days of excruciating pain… the cobra died.”)
3. It wasn’t Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis’ first time working together. It was the first film the three action heroes had worked on together, but not their first time doing business as a unit. All three were financial backers in the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain in the ’90s.
4. Wesley Snipes couldn’t make it to the shoot because he was under arrest. Snipes was offered the Terry Crews part of Hale Ceaser, but couldn’t take the role because he wasn’t allowed to leave the country due to owing Uncle Sam tax money. The part then bounced from Forest Whitaker to 50 Cent — yup, 50 Cent was next in line after Oscar-winner Forrest Whitaker — but 50 had to concentrate on his music career and perfecting the formula for SK Energy Shots. The part was then given to Terry Crews.
5. Stallone and Schwarzenegger have the same voice in Germany. In the German adaptation of the films, the same voice actor provides the voice dubbing for Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s characters.
6. The first Expendables was Stallone’s biggest movie since Rocky IV. Stallone had some decent action movies in the 1990s, but nothing with him in a lead role had cleared the $100 million mark at the U.S. box office since 1985’s Rocky IV. His highest grossing movie over that 25 year time frame was 1993’s Cliffhanger, which pulled $83 million.