Fans of the first two Expendables films will be happy to know that while most of the series formula insane action sequences, tight camaraderie, and wiseguy humor is intact in The Expendables 3, things have also gotten more personal. Sly Stallone again stars as Barney Ross, the leader of a rather crusty team of government-backed mercenaries. The twist is that this story has Ross bringing in a batch of young blood new youthful recruits to replace the aging crew. The film also introduces a big-time adversary: Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), a former cohort of Ross who has turned into his bitter enemy. Stallone and Gibson sat next to each other in a Los Angeles hotel earlier this week to talk about their roles in the film, and hint at their future career moves.
Theres a great scene in The Expendables 3 where Stonebanks tells his back story, and reveals why hes become Ross adversary. Sly, did you write out that whole scene, and Mel, did you stay on script?
Stallone: I just wrote a guideline, and then Mel came up with some ideas.
Gibson: I worked on the script a little bit at night, then I came in and handed the pages to Sly and [director] Patrick Hughes, and they said, Yeah, thats cool. It was a theme of somebody whos subcontracted by his government, and then thrown under the bus.
Stallone: I think what gave it some heart is that he was saying something that had some truth, and it was valid, and I dont believe he saw himself as the bad guy. But then you bring in the aspect of Cain and Abel, and two best friends becoming the worst of enemies, because usually when you love something that much, you can also hate it even more, because of that schism, that breakup. Mel just killed it. In that scene, I had some dialogue back and forth with him, but the more he did the scene, the more I realized that I shouldnt speak. So I just let him roll.
Everyone watching is waiting for the two characters to finally go at it mano a mano, and you guys dont disappoint.
Stallone: Its a good fight. You know, there are situations in sports where two rivalries get together, two teams that have done very well in their own world. Then you wonder how they would do against each other. When that finally happens, it becomes an event.
Gibson: King Kong vs. Godzilla.
Stallone: Thats right. Contact is made, and you do get hurt, and its freezing, and you dont want to do [the scene] again but you have to do it again. But Mel is very fast and hes very strong and it was great being punched by him.
Gibson: There was no actual contact.
Stallone (interrupting): Thats a bald-faced lie.
Gibson (laughing): It was kind of like movie sex. You dont actually do it. And of course, youre battling arthritis. But it was fun.
If each of you could take one of your earlier characters and make him an Expendable, who would it be?
Gibson: The obvious one is the crazy cop from the Lethal Weapon series. But maybe that whack job from Conspiracy Theory.
Stallone: I think Rambo, but then he would turn around and kill them all. Thats the down side of working with him.
Sly, your character in the film is talking about retirement. What are your own thoughts about retirement?
Stallone: Im not ready to sit at home and play with Pomeranians for 12 hours a day. Actors dont want to retire; theyre usually forced to retire. And thats sad, because you really get better as you get older. You may not remember as much dialogue, but with the dialogue you DO remember, youre better at it. Were just adult children; were there to perform. Ive always said that an artist dies twice. The first death is the hardest, which is the career death, or the creative death. The physical death is an inevitability. So I think that everyone should just keep going, and I think thats happening. The genre is opening up, and television is providing more alternate careers or second acts in adult actors careers.
Mel, are your plans leaning toward more acting or more directing?
Gibson: I think the most fun you can have standing up is directing a film. I think my gift is directing, and Im going to pursue that. Ive got a few irons in the fire, but it doesnt pay to talk too much about it because industrial espionage is rife. The minute you say anything, somebody swipes the idea, and it ends up on TV. But thats OK, too. Ill direct TV. TV is getting amazing. I definitely have my sights set on more directing, and I will do it.
Theres already talk of an Expendables 4. How long do you think this series can continue?

Stallone: After the fifth Expendables, you start wearing Dependables.

Ed Symkus covers movies for More Content Now.