THE EXPENDABLES 2 Production Notes
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details and images from an upcoming movie.
The Expendables are back and this time it’s personal…
Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) — with newest members Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan) aboard — are reunited when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) enlists the Expendables to take on a seemingly simple job. The task looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his band of old-school 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 forces, wreaking havoc and shutting down an unexpected threat in the nick of time — five tons of weapons-grade plutonium, far more than enough to change the balance of power 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…
From Sylvester Stallone and a powerhouse line-up of the biggest action-adventure superstars from around the world – never before seen together in one film – comes the next chapter in The Expendables saga. 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 driven to extract their own brand of up-close and personal vengeance.
ABOUT THE FILM
The Endangered American Action Hero
In a 2012 article, the New York Times Magazine declared the American action hero an endangered species. With the second installment of The Expendables adventure, co-screenwriter and star Sylvester Stallone gives audiences an opportunity to appreciate this now rare breed like never before- assembling a group of the biggest, bravest and most bad-ass action stars of all time. Stallone’s aim with The Expendables 2 was to bring thrill-seeking audiences exactly what they’ve been missing: that all-American, combustible combo of high-velocity adventure and rollicking, relatable heroes who, no matter the costs, are always ready to throw down for what really matters.
To accomplish this, he wanted to expand the already unprecedented team of blockbuster icons whose rapport formed the heart of the first film. It was a chance to bring together every single one of the larger-than-life personalities who built the great American action film as its own massive genre – who forged an indelible cinematic image, in the words of New York Times journalist Adam Sternbergh, of an America that is “strong, tough, independent and perpetually kicking much butt.” And it was a chance to give these quintessential rough-hewn renegades a mission that would become a breakneck, personal quest for justice.
Some might not lament that the lone-wolf daredevils, hard-boiled justice-seekers and dogged defenders of such classics as Die Hard, Rambo and Predator have been replaced by caped superheroes and surreal special effects, but Stallone knows audiences are still very hungry for the genuine article. “For The Expendables 2, we’ve pulled together the most phenomenal action-adventure cast that I’ve ever been involved with,” he says. “We are bringing back that old time rock ‘n roll, and giving audiences what that they haven’t seen for a while: visceral, true-to-life action.”
Stallone was thrilled to reteam with Lionsgate and Millennium Films, who were so instrumental in turning his original concept of creating the first “All-Star team” of action heroes into a global hit that left audiences wanting more. The first Expendables chapter had recruited the best of the best and the coolest of the cool from classic action genres ranging from martial arts epics to gritty crime thrillers. With Lionsgate and Millennium’s continued support, Stallone was ready to reunite this team, then expand its diverse membership and push them even further into the kind of human jeopardy that requires extraordinary measures.
One thing about the sequel was always for sure – it would be done true to the trademark style of the original, serving as an equally fresh take on vintage American badass action as it was in the days before rampant CGI pushed fight choreography into something more fantastical.
“The Expendables are about classic, straight-up action,” sums up producer Kevin King-Templeton. “It goes back to a day when everything was done right in front of the camera. There are real car crashes, real fight scenes and real mayhem. No phony muscle suits or body enhancements needed. This is the real deal. I think the audience appreciates that it’s all done without CGI tricks. To have Stallone, Bruce, Arnold, Van Damme, Norris and more all fighting, shooting and bringing their own spin to this highly choreographed action – it’s really an action lover’s dream come true.”
For Stallone, the inspiration for writing these real-deal characters came from the unforgettably rebellious yet heroically loyal compadres he cut his own teeth on in such action classics as The Dirty Dozen, The Wild Bunch and Dogs of War. “Our characters harken back to a time when our heroes were flesh and blood,” Stallone summarizes. “What I like about the Expendables, especially in this story, is that these guys put their lives on the line for a cause.”
Having shepherded the first film to success as director, this time Stallone happily handed off his director’s chair to director Simon West (Con Air, The General’s Daughter, The Mechanic, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) so that he could focus more on the writing and on Barney Ross as the film’s lead character. “Simon is a wonderful shooter and he brought a lot to the heart and the action of the story,” comments Stallone. “With the scope of this production, I couldn’t have done all these jobs.”
West liked that The Expendables 2 was inspired by the simple but undeniable power of the original action formula –real people with lethal expertise pushed into situations where they have to use it. He was especially compelled by the characters in the script for The Expendables 2 — intriguingly flawed, relatable men and women who might take on the most impossible odds in the course of the story, but know they are in no way invincible. Rather than magic, they have to rely on sheer guts, skill and a refusal to quit.
“I wanted to direct this film because I know how much people love these characters and now they are going to get to see more of them in even higher adrenaline situations,” says West. “I think audiences love this group because they’re funny, they’re tough, they’re very good at what they do – and yet they aren’t super-human. They aren’t bulletproof. They have their flaws and each character is screwed up in their own little way. People root for them because they’re underdogs and we can all relate to that. I find a lot more color in how Stallone wrote these very human action characters than in a man who is indestructible.”
Stallone and West soon developed a close creative camaraderie. Recalls West: “On the first day of shooting, I said to Sly, ‘It’s very unusual for me to direct another director, especially one of this caliber who’s had so many big hits and has created so many iconic characters.’ I said, ‘I really want to take care of your franchise because it’s your baby.’ I thought of that every day, and it became my inspiration. I really wanted to protect and expand on what Sly had brought to life.”
Anticipation was at a high as production got under way – and everyone knew that fists, kicks, weaponry and witty humor would soon be flying from every direction on the set. Given the incredible combined skills of the cast, the bar was easy to raise on a daily basis.
Sums up producer Avi Lerner: “With the returning cast headed by Sly plus the greatly expanded roles for Arnold and Bruce, plus the new additions of Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins and Yu Nan, we knew we were in for more adventure, more action and more excitement.”
Action Stars of the World Unite
The Expendables 2 not only brings back the star-studded action hero cast of the original, but also expands upon it, adding both more beloved icons and some fresh faces from a new generation of rising stars. Each arrived on set highly trained and ready for anything.
Sylvester Stallone once again takes the lead as Barney Ross, the team’s strong-willed leader who now must grapple with the sudden loss of one of his own. Stallone reveals, “The whole movie sets off on a course of, you might say… revenge . . . as our team sets out to get the people who have done one of us a great disservice. There’s this turn of events that you don’t expect. It’s a tough thing for Barney. At one point, Barney asks ‘Why is it the ones who deserve to live, that want to live the most, die — and the ones that don’t deserve to live, keep on going?’”
Jason Statham also reprises his role of Lee Christmas, the knife-wielding killing machine who wears his heart on his sleeve and struggles in his personal relationships. Statham says of his character: “He’s kind of a workingman’s hero… a guy you’d want to go out and have a beer with.”
In The Expendables 2, Stallone and Statham had a chance to further hone their irreverent, back-and-forth repartee as relentlessly competitive buddies. Stallone explains: “The relationship between Christmas and Barney was so good in the first movie that we’ve enhanced it with more humor and action. They’re a great team together… like the Odd Couple, really. They’re constantly fighting but have a great affection for each other.”
Producer King-Templeton adds, “Jason and Sly are very good friends themselves so when they’re in character as Barney and Christmas, their banter really comes alive.”
The Expendables 2 also gives audiences another chance to see box-office behemoths Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger together with Stallone – after The Expendables became the first time in film history that the three biggest action stars of the last three decades were seen as a trio on screen. Willis and Schwarzenegger return in the roles of the mysterious Mr. Church and the devastating Trench.
“I’m so glad we got Bruce as Mr. Church, because he’s the key to the beginning of the adventure. Mr. Church is an enigma. We don’t really know exactly what he does, but he’s in the thick of things and he’s extremely powerful and devious,” explains Stallone.
Stallone says of Schwarzenegger: “Though our two characters are somewhat archenemies, we’re also compatriots when the stakes are high enough. Trench comes through for us this time! Last time was just a cameo. Here, Arnold’s role is more fleshed out and this will be the first time that we really join together, which we haven’t done in our entire careers. It’ll be well worth the wait when people see it. Our styles are vastly different, which makes for a great contrast. Arnold has a different way of approaching a role. It’s certainly different than mine, but we arrive at the same destination, which is to entertain the audience.”
This time around, another inimitable pioneer of the action genre– the American martial arts legend Chuck Norris — joins The Expendables 2 as Booker, whose name is a nod to the influential 1978 actioner Good Guys Wear Black in which Norris portrayed a character named John T. Booker. In that film and in The Expendables 2, Norris plays a retired military operative trying to rescue his old comrades.
It was a rare opportunity to pay tribute to Norris’ unending appeal. Stallone explains, “Chuck basically retired from films but he agreed to join our movie. He plays a character who mysteriously comes out of nowhere to save our butts. We call him Lone Wolf. He’s there when you need him, and gone when you don’t.”
Norris is the pop culture subject of countless Paul Bunyan-type larger than life “Chuck Norris’ facts” created by fans – such as “Chuck Norris counted to infinity – twice” — with more than half-million of these “facts” circulating on the Internet. The film’s multinational cast and crew affectionately jumped on the bandwagon almost as soon as Norris disembarked from the airplane to the film’s primary location in Bulgaria, coining a new one: “Chuck Norris doesn’t visit Bulgaria… Bulgaria visits Chuck Norris.”
Former NFL football player turned actor, Terry Crews echoes the feeling of many on set when it came to working alongside Norris, “You’re talking about one of the icons of action… I mean, in one of first martial arts films, this guy fought Bruce Lee!”
Every great action-adventure demands a ruthless and memorable villain – and in The Expendables 2, the blockbuster kickboxing star Jean-Claude Van Damme adds his instantly recognizable persona and skills to the film’s superstar roster in the nefarious role of Jean Vilain.
Stallone says of Van Damme taking on the bad guy role: “People have never seen him like this before. Usually he plays heroes and I think people will be quite surprised by Vilain – who is fearlessly hell-bent on destroying us despite the risk of self-destruction. He’s willing to die and eventually when Vilain and Barney meet one-on-one, it ends up being a hellacious battle until the very end. It’s kind of like a heavyweight championship fight that you never thought would happen.”
King-Templeton muses, “Jean-Claude Van Damme and Sly Stallone in the same fight scene? I think audiences have been waiting for that for 30 years. This movie has almost every gun ever made in it and every explosion you could imagine. But at the end we wanted to have Sly and Jean-Claude get together for a classic hand-to-hand battle. All the technology is gone. All the hardware is gone. It’s just the two guys going at it.”
Producer Les Weldon sums up: “Jean-Claude plays Vilain so menacing and so crazy that it sends chills up your spine. He is evil incarnate but in a very good way for the film.”
Fresh blood is also added to the action mix of The Expendables 2 in the person of Liam Hemsworth, fresh off the mega hit of Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games, as the world-class sniper Billy The Kid.
Stallone explains, “Billy the Kid is a hero out of Afghanistan but he’s disenchanted after being on the verge of winning the Medal of Honor. He joins our team but soon realizes that it’s really not for him. He agrees to go along for one last mission – but what he really wants is to go home, be with his girlfriend and start a normal life. The rest of us are a little jealous of The Kid because we never really got to have normal lives. I think my character, Barney understands him. At one point Barney tells him, ‘If you have a choice, I wouldn’t grow up to be us, either.’”
Billy the Kid represents the next generation of the Expendables. Stallone explains, “He’s the new young guy, full of hope and aspiration. He has a future ahead of him and he’s not as cynical as the other team members. He regards Barney Ross as a father figure, and Barney regards him as the new generation that he’s got to look after and train and they have a great affection for each other.”
On this mission, the Expendables get another addition with a whole different style — their first female heroine, Maggie, played by rising Chinese actress Yu Nan. Stallone explains, “Maggie is a Chinese agent who’s very mysterious. Nobody quite knows what her role is to start with. But as the story unfolds, you realize how important she is to the story. Yu Nan is a wonderful actress and she adds a lot of mystery and intrigue to the story. Maggie challenges Barney all the time because Barney’s not very good with women; he’s got this wall up he tries to keep her at a distance. And she’s constantly trying to penetrate his outer shell.”
King-Templeton adds, “Yu Nan is a very accomplished actress in China. She’s perfect for this role because you also really believe that she can fight and you believe she can get involved in these kind of dangerous situations. She holds her own with all the boys. Maggie challenges Barney’s emotional side. Barney as the leader of the Expendables is always looking out for the guys. He’s never really had time for any kind of female relationship. She makes him look at another side of life he could have possibly had.”
Over twenty-five years ago, Dolph Lundgren went head-to-head against Stallone as Russian fighter Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. Now he returns in The Expendables 2 in the role of volatile Gunner Jensen, who has nearly been undone by too much adrenaline, drinking and combat stress. Lundgren says, “Gunner is still crazy but the main thing now is that he’s with the team all the way through. In the first picture he was kind of on his own journey.”
Former NFL football player turned actor, Terry Crews — known for his comedic roles in television shows like Everybody Hates Chris as well as in a memorable series of Old Spice commercials — makes his return as street-smart barrel weapons specialist Hale Caesar. During production, Crews became reacquainted with Hale Caesar’s weapon of choice in the film: the AA-12 auto assault 12-gauge shotgun, capable of delivering 300 rounds per minute and is considered the most powerful weapon in the world by enthusiasts.
More drawn to hand-to-hand combat, Mixed Martial Arts superstar Randy Couture returns as Toll Road, the brawny intellect of the group. “Toll Road is the glue that holds all of these dysfunctional guys together,” says Couture.
Like the rest of the cast, Couture was ready for non-stop action but even more excited about the characters and their friendships. “For me the physical part of making movies is the easy part,” he explains. “I just retired from Mixed Martial Arts, and I’m still in the best shape of my life, right now, at age 48. But finding the emotions and finding my way inside my character is really the more challenging, and the most interesting, part for me.”
What Makes an Action Hero?
With this unparalleled collection of some of the hardest-hitting, highest-kicking, down-and-dirtiest stars ever seen on screen all gathered to tell the story of The Expendables 2, it had everyone on set thinking about just what these remarkably diverse stars share in common – what makes for an action hero?
Certainly they each possess their own version of mad skills, tough-talking attitudes, savvy senses of humor and drive for one kind of glory or another, but it seems something more ties them together under the skin – perhaps it’s an ability to make audiences believe they will stand up for basic justice and righteousness no matter what mayhem comes their way.
Sylvester Stallone says of an action hero’s essence: “It’s not muscles. It’s not incredible athletic ability. I think it has to be something that the audience can relate to – someone touchable, approachable and real. Maybe even somewhat flawed. The hero has to be part of the audience. I really think what makes an action star is the audience’s desire to mentally shove the character forward.”
Simon West agrees, “I think a great action hero needs to be vulnerable. If they’re unbeatable, they’re hard to relate to – and that’s what is so great about all the Expendables. They’re always just on the ragged edge and they could fail at any time. I think the audience likes that and that’s key to why they root for them.”
As the cast came together for The Expendables 2, the atmosphere on set was truly one-of-a-kind. “Pulling together this high-octane mix of alpha-dogs on the same set has never been done before,” admits Stallone. “Nobody on set wanted to be outdone. So, when we were in our 12th hour of shooting for the day, and the time came, they were all bringing their A-games. It was pretty remarkable.”
King-Templeton adds, “All these guys that we have in the film have done some of the best action movies ever made, and are masters of their own arts, so you get them all together in one room and obviously they’re going to be competitive. It was fun to watch – and see who was going to outdo the other.”
Dolph Lundgren says of the good-natured but gung-ho competitive spirit on set, “There was definitely some competitiveness, not just physically but also to do good work. It raises the quality. When you see that list of names on the call sheet it’s almost like you want to frame it and stick it on the wall someplace. I’m sure a lot of the cast and crew will, because I don’t think this will ever happen again.”
Jason Statham, too, was awed by the chance to work daily with a veritable Mount Rushmore of action legends at his side. He sums up the experience with three words. “Stallone, Bruce, Arnold,” he quips. “There it was. They were there along with the rest of this massive line-up and it was a great feeling to see my name with theirs. It’s an amazing privilege.”
With much of the film’s intricately choreographed action unfolding in urban spaces or out in the elements, The Expendables 2 filmed for 14 intense weeks, mostly in the spectacular and rarely seen Eastern European nation of Bulgaria, as well as in Hong Kong and New Orleans.
Situated in southeast Europe, bordering Romania, Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and the Black Sea, Bulgaria offered the filmmakers a wide variety of practical film locations – from lush, densely-forested mountain ranges to picturesque Balkan villages untouched by time.
Notes Simon West: “Bulgaria is a country that hasn’t really been shot very much so most of our locations will have never been seen before. As a result, I think the movie will have an incredible look. There are so many different types of landscape and locations we were able to use. I think people will be surprised by what they see.”
“The scope of some of these locations just took my breath away,” muses Stallone. “It was massive and the way that Simon shot it… it’s going to have extraordinary appeal.”
One of the film’s biggest set pieces took place at Plovdiv Airport, Bulgaria’s second largest, near the famed Bulgarian ski resorts of Bansko and Pamporovo, much to the delight of local residents and airport employees. The filmmakers loved the idea of choreographing chaotic, large-scale action in a place where no one is expecting it- a familiar, urban environment rather than a jungle or desert or someplace audiences would normally associate with mercenaries.
The location brought numerous challenges, but the team relished them. “We were very lucky to get permission to use a real airport. I never thought we’d actually be able to pull this off,” King-Templeton confesses. “We ran a huge action sequence, actually firing hundreds of guns and letting explosions off and having car chases inside a real airport. I don’t think that has ever been done before.”
Sets were constructed throughout the region. In fact, when the production built a real bridge over the river Osam for the film, they made it a lasting gift to the local residents.
In addition to shooting across the Bulgarian landscape, the production also utilized the stages and massive outdoor sets at the versatile Nu Boyana Film Studios near Bulgaria’s capitol city Sofia. (Here during a brief break, the former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger presented the current Prime Minister of Bulgaria with the sword of Conan the Barbarian.)
Launched in September 1962, when Bulgaria was a socialist state, the studio known then as Boyana Film soon became one of the largest film producers in Europe. By the early 1980’s the studios were churning out some 50 feature films every year. After political change came to the former Eastern Bloc in 1989, the studios were ultimately privatized – and in 2006, Nu Image/Millennium Films became Boyana Film’s new owner.
After extensively refurbishing and modernizing the sprawling studios to leading-edge standards, Nu Image/Millennium renamed them Nu Boyana. Today Nu Boyana offers a lavishly detailed “New York Street” that can replicate Manhattan, a Roman Coliseum, an extensive armory, a leading-edge visual effects facility and a modern Kodak film lab. With a total of 13 soundstages, state-of-the-art production support, all situated against a wooded mountainside on over 75 scenic acres, it had everything needed for the soundstage work on The Expendables 2.
As creative as the production was, for Stallone the most special visual of all was seeing this group of high-flying film legends all joining forces for one movie.
“Maybe this is the beginning of a revival. Or, maybe it’s the end of an era. But one thing is for sure; it’s never happened before and we’ll never see it happen quite like this again,” Stallone summarizes. “Everyone in this movie has had a stellar career and to get all of us together at one time is a minor miracle. This is going to be quite an experience for the audience and one that took years in the making. We finally got it on film and it’s something that hopefully people are going to appreciate for years to come.”
ABOUT THE CAST
SYLVESTER STALLONE (Barney Ross, Screenplay by) has established worldwide recognition as an actor, writer and director, since he played the title role in his own screenplay of “Rocky;” which won the Academy Award® in 1976 for Best Picture.
Since that seminal motion picture, “Rocky” grew to become a franchise of five sequels and in 2006, Stallone concluded the series with “Rocky Balboa.” It was a critical and audience success, which resolutely confirmed both “Stallone” and “Rocky” as iconic cultural symbols. A musical version of “Rocky” will debut in Hamburg, Germany in 2012.
In addition to commemorating a character which has become as real as any living person, to film-going audiences around the world, a statue of ‘Rocky Balboa’ was placed at the foot of the now-famous steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum at a dedication ceremony presided over by the Mayor.
Stallone wrote, directed, and starred in “Rambo,” which continued the saga of the Vietnam vet, “John Rambo,” twenty-five years after the debut of “Rambo: First Blood.” For this latest installment, Stallone took the company on location to the inner jungles of Burma; basing the compelling story in a country where crimes against humanity, civil war, and genocide have existed for over 60 years, and no one is doing anything about it.
Last summer, Stallone released the action thriller “The Expendables,” which he co-wrote, directed, and starred in, and for which he hired an all-star cast including Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Eric Roberts, Dolph Lundgren and Steve Austin, as well as Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sly took the company on location to the interior of Brazil and the city streets New Orleans, filming for just a few short months. “The Expendables” has previously opened to number one at the box office and ultimately grossed over $274 million worldwide, making him the only actor to open a number one Film across five decades.
Born in New York City, Stallone attended school in suburban Philadelphia, where he first started acting and also became a star football player. He then spent two years instructing at the American College of Switzerland in Geneva.
Returning to the United States, he enrolled as a drama major at the University of Miami and also began to write. Stallone left college to pursue an acting career in New York City, but the jobs did not come easily. By 1973, Stallone had auditioned for almost every casting agent in New York and had gone on thousands of acting calls, with little success.
During this period, he turned more and more to writing, churning out numerous screenplays while waiting for his acting break. The opportunity first came in 1974 when he was cast as one of the leads in “The Lords of Flatbush.” He also received his first writing credit for “additional dialogue” on this film.
With the money earned from that film, Stallone left New York for Hollywood. He again began to make the rounds of studios and casting agents, managing to get a few small roles in television and movies. He also continued to pursue writing. Prizefighter ‘Rocky Balboa’ was born and given life in a script Stallone wrote in longhand. Several producers offered to buy the screenplay, wanting to cast a name star in the title role; which Stallone insisted on playing himself. Although his bank balance was barely one hundred dollars, Stallone held fast with his perseverance finally paying off in a big way. In addition to “Rocky Balboa” and “Rambo,” Stallone’s credits as actor/writer/director are “Rocky II” and “Paradise Alley.” As actor and co-writer, Stallone filmed “F.I.S.T.,” “First Blood,” “Rambo First Blood Part II,” “Rhinestone,” and “Rambo III.” He co-wrote, directed, and produced “Staying Alive” and starred in “Nighthawks,” “Victory,” “Tango & Cash” and “Lock Up.” “Rocky V,” starring and written by Stallone and directed by John Avildsen, opened in 1990.
He also starred in “Demolition Man,” which set box-office records for its fall 1993 release and in the films “The Specialist,” “Assassins” and “Daylight.” Stallone starred in the challenging and unique role of ‘Freddy Heflin’ in the Miramax feature film “Copland,” which garnered him further international critical and audience acclaim.
He had the starring role in “Get Carter” for Warner Brothers, co-starring Michael Caine, which opened in the fall of 2000. Stallone wrote and starred in the number one box office race car thriller “Driven,” co-starring Burt Reynolds and Christian de la Fuente. In addition, he filmed “Avenging Angelo,” co-starring Madeline Stowe. Both films were for Warner Brothers. He also starred in the role of ‘The Toymaker’ for director Robert Rodriguez in the hit film “Spy Kids 3,” the final installment of that successful film franchise. He was associated with “The Contender,” a powerful and action-packed unscripted series that aired on the NBC Television Network and then ESPN.
In 2002, Stallone was honored by the Video Dealers Software Association when he was presented with the Action Star of the Millennium Award at the Organization’s 21st Annual Convention.
In addition, Stallone’s influence and fan appreciation is acknowledged worldwide. In 2008, The Zurich Film Festival presented him with the Festival’s Inaugural Golden Icon Award, which recognized his achievements as a great American Actor and Filmmaker. In 2009, The Venice Film Festival honored Stallone with their Glory to the Filmmaker Award. For the 2010 release of “The Expendables,” Stallone was honored at the Spike TV’s, “Guy’s Choice Awards” with the coveted GuyCon Award, presented by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was also feted at the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival as the event’s Honored Guest, and received the Visionary Award at the Hollywood Reporter Key Arts 2010 Event. At the 2010 Comic-Con Convention, he was the first inductee into the IGN Action Hero Hall of Fame.
In 2013, audiences will see Stallone in “Bullet To The Head,” which is veteran director Walter Hill’s first theatrical feature in a decade. The movie centers on a cop and a hit man who form an alliance to bring down their common adversary. Presently, he is filming “The Tomb” on location in New Orleans, co-starring with Arnold Schwarzenegger, 50 Cent, Jim Caviezel and Vincent D’Onofrio.
Stallone is one of the founding partners of Planet Hollywood, the internationally famous chain of entertainment complexes which includes the Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Resort and Casino.
Born in Sydenham, England, JASON STATHAM (Lee Christmas) was one of the top divers on the British team; eventually placing 12th in the world. While training at the famed Crystal Palace National Sport Center in London, film crews and photographers pursued him as new talent and he eventually met the executive producer of the film “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” (1998). Statham then met with director, Guy Ritchie, who gave him his first role. He went on to work with Ritchie again in “Snatch” (2000), starring opposite Brad Pitt and Benicio Del Toro. Statham was cast by Luc Besson in the title role of ‘Frank Martin’ in “The Transporter” (2002). He starred as ‘Handsome Rob’ in the summer blockbuster remake of “The Italian Job” (2003), and as the adrenaline-compromised action hero of “Crank” (2006). Statham returned as ‘Frank Martin’ in “Transporter 2” (2006) and “Transporter 3” (2008), and also starred in Roger Donaldson’s “The Bank Job” (2008), the critically acclaimed true story of the 1971 Baker Street bank robbery, and in the Universal Pictures remake of “Death Race” (2008).
He next reprised the role of ‘Chev Chelios’ in “Crank 2: High Voltage” (2009) and then teamed up with some of the world’s biggest fellow action stars for “Sylvester Stallone’s” “The Expendables” (2010), followed by the remake of “The Mechanic” (2011), which originally starred Charles Bronson as the profession hit man ‘Arthur Bishop.’ Statham filled the shoes of Ken Bruen’s creation of ‘British Detective Brant’ in the adaptation of the UK crime thriller “Blitz” (2011), Statham was recently seen in “Killer Elite” (2011) based on the true story written by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, and “Safe” (2012)” directed by Boaz Yakin and produced by Lawrence Bender. He most recently wrapped production on “Parker” with Jennifer Lopez and directed by Taylor Hackford, as well as Steven Knight’s directorial debut, “Hummingbird.”
JET LI (Yin Yang) is a world-renowned martial artist, movie star, social sector leader and social entrepreneur. Born in Beijing, Jet began studying Chinese Wushu at the age of 8, and became a five-time consecutive All-Around National Wushu Champion of China (1975-1979). He was selected by the Chinese government to perform Wushu at various diplomatic functions in over 45 countries, including for President Richard Nixon of the United States.
At the age of 17, Jet kicked off his 30+ year film career with his lead role in “Shaolin Temple” in 1982. Since then, he has starred in countless classic Chinese martial arts epics, such as “Once Upon a Time in China,” “Fist of Legend,” “Hero” and “Fearless.” His film credits also include numerous international hits such as “Lethal Weapon 4,” “Romeo Must Die,” “The Mummy 3” and “The Expendables.” In 2010, Jet Li starred in the critically acclaimed film “Ocean Heaven,” which depicted the struggles of a terminally ill father struggling to teach his autistic son how to survive on his own.
In 2007, Jet founded One Foundation, which advocates broad-based participation in philanthropy and volunteerism as a way of life. With its innovative mass micro-philanthropy model of “every 1 person + every 1 month + donates 1 dollar/yuan = 1 big family,” One Foundation has been a major force in the development of China’s nascent philanthropy sector. On January 11th, 2011, One Foundation officially announced it had received legal status as an independent Public Foundation, becoming the first NGO to successfully complete this transition and setting an example in China’s NGO sector.
In 2010, Jet and the One Foundation established China’s first Philanthropy Research Institute in partnership with Beijing Normal University in order to address the critical human capital shortage in China’s philanthropy sector. The Institute aims to cultivate the next generation of social sector leaders in China, both through degree granting programs as well as corporate training programs.
In 2011, Jet officially launched a new social enterprise called Taiji Zen International in partnership with Mr. Jack Ma. This new movement’s aim is to promote health and happiness across the world through the practice of Taijiquan, as well as the understanding of Taiji philosophy.
DOLPH LUNDGREN (Gunner Jensen) was born and raised in an academic, middle-class family in Stockholm, Sweden. Despite an early interest in playing the drums and clowning around in high school comedies, Dolph decided to follow in his father’s and older brother’s cerebral footsteps and pursue an Engineering degree. After having completed his military service in the Swedish Marine Corps, Dolph enrolled in the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, studying the same subject as his older brother: Chemical Engineering. He attended both Washington State University and Clemson University in South Carolina, studying Chemistry. He graduated from The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, completing his Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering in an exchange program with the University of Sydney, Australia. Graduating at the head of his class, Dolph was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston; one of the world’s top engineering schools.
That same year the young PhD student met the exotic singer Grace Jones, and fell in love. He decided to move to New York City and take up modeling, to make some extra cash. A bit too muscular for a model’s size 40, Dolph was to begin at MIT a few months later. Dolph then took up acting, on a friend’s advice: “Hey man, you look like you should be in the movies;” and this is where it all began.
His motion picture debut came in the James Bond feature, “A View to a Kill” in 1985. However, it was Dolph’s memorable performance in “Rocky IV” later that year that definitely got him noticed worldwide. After a nine month audition process (among 5,000 hopefuls), Dolph was cast by writer-director Sylvester Stallone as his fearsome Russian opponent, ‘Captain Ivan Drago.’ Dolph grit his teeth for the role and then managed to build quite a career as an international action-hero, and has since starred in more than 40 feature films.
Throughout the years, Dolph has always stayed close to the martial arts: “Karate and physical fitness have kept me reasonably sane in a very tough and sometimes inhuman business.”
In 1997, Dolph was awarded his third degree black belt by the World Karate Organization in Tokyo. His other athletic accomplishments include being the captain of the Swedish National Karate Team and the individual champion of the Swedish, European and Australian Heavyweight Full Contact Divisions. In addition to his Karate expertise, Dolph was selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee to serve as the Team Leader of the U.S. Olympic Pentathlon Team during the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
As well as being a seasoned actor, Dolph has directed five feature films. His production companies Thor Pictures and Red Orm Productions, are currently developing several projects in which he will produce, star and direct. His latest directing project is a feature he co-wrote and directed, “Command Performance,” produced by Avi Lerner and Nu Image Films. Dolph explained, “Years of experience in front of the camera does give me a certain edge in my favorite part of directing: working with the actors.”
Dolph is also a founding member of Group of Eight an off-Broadway theatre group started in 1994. “I am currently speaking to a Swedish director about doing stage in Sweden. It would be a first on two fronts: a full-length stage play and also in Swedish. All of my acting so far has been in English and performing in my native ‘emotional language’ would be very exciting.”
In May of 2011, Dolph co-starred with fellow action star Jean-Claude Van Damme in “Universal Soldier- Day of Reckoning,” a sequel to the film that paired the two European actors in the 90s.
Shortly after “Rocky IV,” Dolph released his workout video, “Maximum Potential.” He is currently working on a fitness book for men. In addition to the book, Dolph is also developing a personalized organic brand of vitamins and supplements, as well as a men’s skin care product line.
CHUCK NORRIS (Booker) is an international television and film star, as well as a world-renowned martial arts expert and teacher. He is also well known for his nutrition and fitness advocacy, as demonstrated by his endorsement of the globally popular Total Gym exercise equipment a devise that has helped improve the health and fitness of millions for more than three decades.
“C-Force” is Norris’s new health column distributed by Creators Syndicate. It will offer fans, for the first time, regular advice and insight on improving their health and fitness by a celebrated master of healthy living. Norris’ new column is directed to readers across the nation and around the world. It will bring readers into his world and the guidelines he lives by, as well as offer sound advice from reputable and highly respected experts in the natural and medical fields. “C-Force” espouses a holistic view of health—that wellness is obtained and maintained by treating ourselves as an integrated whole—mind, body and spirit.
Norris is a New York Times bestselling author of three books. They include “Black Belt Patriotism: How to Reawaken America,” first released in 2008, his first book of social commentary, and the 2004 autobiographical “Against All Odds.”
As the subject of countless Paul Bunyan-type fictional “facts” created by fans, with an estimated 600,000+ “facts” circulating on the Internet. For years, Norris has been repeatedly asked: “Which are your favorites?” With the release of “The Official Chuck Norris Fact Book” in November 2009 (Tyndale Publishing) fans everywhere at last got their answer and, along with the levity, some eye opening insight behind these facts and the code by which Mr. Norris lives his life.
Norris has also penned two books of fiction. In 2006 he first added the title of columnist to his list of credits with the launch of his popular Internet column on social commentary and its subsequent expansion via Creators Syndicate. His weekly column is now widely circulated and carried by such popular Internet sites as “Human Events,” “Townhall” and “World Net Daily,” among a host of other publications and outlets.
Among his more rewarding accomplishments is the creation in 1992 of his KICKSTART KIDS program. His wife, Gena Norris, is also a leading force in this endeavor and valuable member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. With its mission of building strong moral character in our youth through the martial arts, expanding the Foundation and its benefits has become Chuck and Gena’s mission in life, following the development and well-being of their family.
KICKSTART KIDS, which began in Houston, now teaches the martial arts to more than 6,000 at risk middle school children in Texas. This character-building, life-skills school curriculum has exceeded 60,000 youngsters graduating the program with many going on to college and becoming successful in their own right. Proceeds from Chuck Norris’ books and other ventures go to support this nonprofit foundation and to advancing Chuck and Gena’s plan to someday expand the KICKSTART KIDS foundation nationwide.
In March 2009, Norris was awarded the McLane Leadership in Business Award by the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation for his achievements as a martial arts legend, entrepreneur, and humanitarian. The award was presented by 41st President George H.W. Bush, Norris’ longtime friend and the person credited with first encouraging Norris to launch KICKSTART KIDS.
A former Airman First Class in the United States Air Force, and past spokesperson for the U.S. Veterans Administration and Veteran Foundation’s Veteran of the Year Award recipient, he has spent hundreds of hours visiting soldiers at military installations and in America’s veteran hospitals. In 2007, he was made an honorary member of the United States Marine Corps in recognition of two recent visits to troops in Iraq.
One of the most popular actors in the world, Chuck Norris starred in over 23 action films and the CBS television series, “Walker, Texas Ranger,” for eight full seasons. It is the most successful Saturday night series on CBS since “Gunsmoke.” The program is currently seen by an estimated one billion viewers worldwide and airs daily in the U.S. and in more than 80 countries worldwide. Millions of people around the world also know Chuck Norris as the star of films such as “Delta Force,” “Missing in Action,” “Lone Wolf McQuade,” and “Sidekicks.” Few people know he wrote the original screenplays for a number of his box office hits.
Norris’ first international acclaim came as a six-time undefeated World Professional Middle Weight Karate Champion. He is the first man from the Western Hemisphere in the more than 4,500 years of Tae Kwon Do to be awarded an eight-degree Black Belt Grand Master ranking. The Norris’ live on their ranch near Houston, Texas, where they are raising their twins.
Former NFL football player TERRY CREWS (Hale Caesar) traded in his helmet and cleats to pursue an acting career and became the ultimate family man. Terry is now more commonly known for his natural wit, comedic timing and versatility. Terry just wrapped shooting Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom,” which recently premiered on HBO. He is also currently the spokesman for the very successful “Smell is Power” campaign for Old Spice. This summer, Terry will be a contestant on “Stars Earn Stripes” for NBC, which is being produced by Mark Burnett and Dick Wolf and will air leading up to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Terry stars in the TBS series “Are We There Yet?” produced by Ice Cube, which will continue to air this fall. Terry plays the role that Ice Cube played in the hit Revolution Studios film of the same name.
After retiring from the NFL in 1997, Terry pursued an acting career. He can be seen in the following films: “Friday After Next,” “Malibu’s Most Wanted,” “Deliver Us From Eva,” “White Chicks,” “Starsky and Hutch,” “Soul Plane,” “Idiocracy,” “Harsh Times,” “Inland Empire,” “Street Kings,” “The Longest Yard,” “The Expendables,” and most recently the hit comedy “Bridesmaids.” Terry also starred in Chris Rock’s television series, “Everybody Hates Chris,” in which he played ‘Julius,’ the father of a young Chris Rock.
Crews was born in Flint, Michigan and attended Flint Southwestern Academy. He earned an Art Excellence Scholarship to attend the Interlochen Center for the Arts and then Western Michigan University. While completing his studies as an Art major, Terry was a key member of the WMU football team, where he earned all-conference honors as a defensive end. Crew was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL in the 11th round of the 1991 NFL Draft. He carved out a career that lasted six seasons, including stints with the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles. While in the NFL, Crews used his art talent by painting a line of NFL licensed lithographs for Sierra Sun Editions.
Terry lives in Los Angeles with his wife of nearly twenty years, Rebecca, a former beauty queen and Christian recording artist, and their five children.
As a 5-time World Champion and Hall of Famer in the fastest growing sport in the world, RANDY COUTURE (Toll Road) is a true icon in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). In addition to his stellar standing in combat sports, Randy is also a successful business man, best-selling author and actor on the rise.
In 2007 Randy added author to his growing list of talents when he published “Wrestling for Fighting: The Natural Way,” next came “Becoming the Natural: My Life In and Out of the Cage,” a book that became a New York Times best-seller and remained on the list for multiple weeks. Then, in 2010, he put out “Xtreme Training: The Fighter’s Ultimate Fitness Manual” and most recently, Randy has been touring in promotion of his latest book, “The Last Round.”
Born in Lynnwood, Washington in 1963, Randy served 6 years in the U.S. Army after graduating from high school during which time he took up boxing. Having completed his service, Randy decided to begin working as an assistant wrestling and strength conditioning coach at Oregon State University. By December of 1997, at the age of 33, Randy made his debut into the world of professional fighting claiming victory in the Heavyweight division of his first appearance in the UFC and soon earning the moniker of “Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture.” Randy eventually moved down a weight class to the Light-Heavyweight division, where he would spend the remainder of his UFC career. Randy is to this day the only UFC competitor to hold titles in both the Heavyweight and Light-Heavyweight divisions.
In June of 2006, Randy became the 4th professional fighter to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame and that same year also retired. In March of 2007, Randy came out of retirement at the age of 44 shocking the world by re-capturing the UFC Heavyweight belt and becoming the first man in UFC history to win the Heavyweight title a total of three times. “The Natural” retired once and for all at the age of 47 but continues to be a highly respected presence in combat sports.
Randy’s other film credits include Lionsgate’s “The Set Up” opposite Bruce Willis, David Mamet’s “Red Belt” for Sony Classics, followed by a starring role in Universal’s “The Scorpion King: The Akkadian.” Additionally, Randy played a recurring character on CBS’ “The Unit,” in a role written specifically for him. Randy also dedicates time to running his own chain of gyms, Xtreme Couture MMA; a thriving clothing line, Xtreme Couture MMA Clothing; a supplement company, Xtreme Couture Pharmaceuticals (XCAP); commentating for the UFC on FOX fight nights and giving back through his foundation, the Xtreme Couture GI Foundation dedicated to honoring the veterans of America’s Armed Forces. Additionally, Randy created MMAthletics with Fox Sports own Jay Glazer, a company focused on training professional athletes from various sports in the ways of Mixed Martial Arts and teaching them how that training can be applied to their respective sport’s discipline.
Randy currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada and is an avid outdoorsman with a passion for motorcycles and hunting.
With a strong understated presence, LIAM HEMSWORTH (Billy the Kid), has a quiet intensity that transcends the big screen. Demonstrating versatility and skill in a range of performances, Liam has proven to be one of the most sought-after actors of his generation.
Hemsworth, currently on location in New Orleans shooting the feature film drama, “Empire State,” directed by Dito Montiel and co-starring Dwayne Johnson and Emma Roberts, was most recently seen starring in this year’s box office hit “The Hunger Games,” directed by Gary Ross and co-starring Jennifer Lawrence. He completed production on the indie feature “AWOL,” co-starring Teressa Palmer and will soon begin lensing the dramatic thriller “Paranoia,” for director Robert Luketic, co-starring Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford. This fall, Hemsworth will reprise his role as ‘Gale Hawthorne’ in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” the sequel to “The Hunger Games,” directed by Francis Lawrence.
Born in Melbourne, Australia, Hemsworth grew up surfing on Phillip Island. The youngest of three boys, Hemsworth always loved movies. Though he never dreamt of becoming an actor, as a young kid he would sit down and watch movies all day long. At the age of 17, having observed his two older brothers Luke and Chris do television shows in Australia. Hemsworth decided that he too wanted to pursue acting seriously. He enrolled in acting classes, got an agent, and started auditioning. Hemsworth quickly landed his first big acting job on Australia’s popular TV series “Home and Away” and from there went on to book a role on Australia’s most successful TV show, “Neighbors.”
Landing his first film role in the feature film “Triangle,” Hemsworth discovered that his true passion was making movies. He explained, “It’s something new and fresh and it’s just a different energy than what I’d worked on before.” Knowing Los Angeles was the center of movie making, Hemsworth began sending audition tapes to the states. He sent a tape to Sylvester Stallone who within a week of receiving the tape asked Hemsworth “to come to Hollywood immediately to play the part of his son in the feature film “The Expendables.” Shortly before he was to depart for Los Angeles, Hemsworth learned that the part of Sly’s son had been written out of the script, however, within hours of learning he was no longer working on “The Expendables,” he received a call that Marvel wanted to screen test him for “Thor.” Though he ended up losing the role of ‘Thor’ to his older brother Chris, it was this audition for Marvel that got Hemsworth to Los Angeles.
Hemsworth soon began to gain attention throughout Hollywood, and while living with his brother Chris in their manager Will Ward’s guest cottage, Liam beat out hundreds of actors for the part of ‘Will Blakee’ in the film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks,” “The Last Song,” directed by Julie Anne Robinson and co-starring Greg Kinnear and Miley Cyrus. This performance garnered Hemsworth with the 2010 Young Hollywood Award as well the 2010 Teen Choice Male Breakout Award.
Hemsworth, who currently resides in Los Angeles, eagerly looks forward to more film work with quality actors and directors. He explained, “I love acting and I love movies. At the moment, I’m just trying to find people who are doing something different and meet people who are as passionate as I am. I have learned the majority of what I know on set, working. You learn from watching people with experience.”
SCOTT ADKINS (Hector) is a very well respected English actor who also happens to possess amazing skills as a martial artist. Scott began his acting training in his home town attending the local youth theatre from the age of 10. At the age of 14, Scott also began to train in Tae Kwon Do under the instruction of Ron Sergiew with the T.A.G.B. After a few years he moved on to kickboxing under Anthony Jones. He is now a fully trained kickboxing Instructor for the P.K.A. Scott also holds a red belt in Tae Kwon Do and a black belt in kickboxing. He is also skilled in Wushu and Judo.
He went on to study drama at college. Whilst at college he played ‘Laertes’ in “Hamlet” for director Michael Bodenstein and the dual roles of ‘Ken’ and ‘Tony Sutton’ in “Striker” for director Damian Brant.
His first professional break came when he was offered a role in a Hong Kong martial arts film called “Extreme Challenge” and found himself in the East for the first time. Scott got the chance to work with some of Hong Kong cinema’s leading action directors including Yeun Wo Ping, Cory Yeun, Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan.
Scott also landed the regular role of Bradley Hume in award winning British TV drama “Holby City” from which he began to be noted as an actor to watch. Scott then appeared as a regular in the popular British comedy drama “Mile High” showing that not only was he adapt as an actor in drama but also had a talent for comedy. He then moved on TV series such as: “Dangerfield,” “Hollyoaks” and the hard hitting award-winning police drama “City Central” directed by BAFTA award winner Kenny Glenaan.
Starring roles in feature films soon followed with his portrayal of ‘Talbot’ in “Special Forces” and ‘Boyka’ in “Undisputed II: Last Man Standing.” It was this film that broke him into the mainstream with his villainous portrayal of a Russian MMA underground fighter ‘Boyka’ in what has been hailed as one of the best American made martial arts films of recent times. Along with lead actor Michael Jai White, fight coordinator JJ Perry and the slick direction of Isaac Florentine this movie has some unbelievably heart stopping fight scenes. After this Scott had guest starring roles in bigger budget films like “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “The Tournament,” “Weapon XI” and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” His first lead role came with “Ninja” and was soon followed with “Undisputed III – Redemption” where he reprised his role as Russian MMA fighter Uri Boyka. He has recently filmed the co-lead role of ‘Flint’ in “Assassin Games” opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme and the leading role of ‘John’ in “Universal Soldier – A New Dimension.” In the past year Scott also took the leading role of ‘The Man’ in “El Gringo” for After Dark Films. He has just finished playing the role of ‘John’ in Kathryn Bigelow’s new feature. He is currently playing the leading role of ‘Travis’ in feature “Legendary – Shocate” in China.
YU NAN (Maggie) (Born on September 5) is a Chinese actress. Born in Dalian city, Yu Nan studied at the Beijing Film Academy, where she graduated in 1999.
In Chin, she made her feature film debut in “Lunar Eclipse” (1999), which earned her the Best Actress of the Deauville Asian Film Festival, and started her career working with several of China’s Sixth-Generation film directors. She subsequently starred in three more films with Wang Quan’an: “The Story of Er Mei” (2003), which earned her the Best Actress Golden Rooster Award and the Best Actress prize of the Paris International Film Festival in 2003; “Tuya’s Marriage,” which won the Golden Bear Award in 2007 at the Berlin International Film Festival for which she won the Best Actress prize from the Chicago International Film Festival; and “Weaving Girl” (2009), which won Jury Special Grand prix and the FIPRESCI prize from the 2009 Montreal World Film Festival.
Yu Nan has also worked with other major Chinese directors, including Wang Xiaoshuai in “In Love We Trust” (2008), which won the Best Screenplay Silver Bear in Berlin the same year; and Ning Hao, in his Chinese Western film, “No Man’s Land” (2010).
Helped in part by her fluency in Mandarin, French, and English, Yu Nan has played in several international productions, including the French film “Fureur” (2003); the Taiwanese film, “My DNA Says I Love You” (2008); the Canadian-Chinese film, “Diamond Dogs” (2007); and the Hollywood film, “Speed Racer” (2008), from the Wachowski brothers.
JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME (Jean Vilain), also known as the ‘Muscles from Brussels’ is an actor, director, producer and screenwriter who was born in Brussels, Belgium. He was born on October 18th, 1960, under the name: Jean-Claude Van Varenberg. Van Damme is married to fitness expert and former female bodybuilding champion, Gladys Portugues, and he is the proud father of Kristopher , Bianca , and Nicolas .
As a child, he was a shy, skinny kid, who loved drawing and music; but he was inspired later by the images of super heroes from comic books. He decided to change his own image when his father took him to the National Karate Centre of Belgium (owned by the famous karate and kickboxing sensei, Claude Goetz). Due to his incredible determination, Van Damme became in great shape and gained a great physical strength due to the non-stop training, every day. He also took ballet classes, besides martial arts, and bodybuilding; in order to gain superior body flexibility. Van Damme won many karate and kickboxing championships (under the name Van Varenberg) after defeating the most fearsome names in the game, and he then won the bodybuilding title of ‘Mr. Belgium.’Later, after these glorious victories in the world of martial arts and sports, he wanted to push his talent to a new level, and he decided that he wanted to become an international movie star.
First step towards his new dream was going to Hong Kong. Impressed by his physique and martial arts skills, movie producers gave him a role in the martial arts movie, “No Retreat, No Surrender.” Van Damme caught the attention of the martial arts movie fans through this role, as it was the first time they got to see an agile martial artist with such a muscular bodybuilder shape! But his real birth as a movie star was when he was offered the leading role in “Bloodsport.” After the huge worldwide success of “Bloodsport,” he started doing movies in USA. He went from one success to another, with films like “Lionheart,” “Double Impact,” “Universal Soldier” “Nowhere to Run,” “Hard Target,” “Timecop,” and “Maximum Risk,” to name a few. Films starring Steve McQueen and Bruce Lee were his favorites to shoot.
Van Damme said that he got motivated after watching, “Enter the Dragon,” and he wanted to posses the same strength and agility of Lee (despite their different styles of fight forms) in which he admires and respects his spiritual teachings and philosophical views. In 2011, on a TV show, legendary martial artist and actor Bolo Yeung (who has worked with both Lee & Van Damme on “Enter the Dragon, Bloodsport, and Double Impact) classified both actors and martial artists as the best in the business of all time. He then became the world’s highest paid martial arts actor. The late 90’s to early 2000’s witnessed a new type of actor in Van Damme; who began to mix action with drama, winning the admiration of both fans and critics for movies like “Legionnaire,” “Replicant,” “In Hell,” “Wake of Death,” and “Until Death.”
In 2008, Van Damme thrilled the world by his performance in the movie, “JCVD.” He earned the best critical notices of his career for the movie in which he played himself. TIME Magazine stated, “He deserves not a black belt, but an Oscar®.” From 2009 – 2011, the highlights include: His writing, directing, and starring in “Soldiers” (aka “The Eagle Path”). He was back as Luc Deveraux, in “Universal Soldier: Regeneration;” followed by “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning” (in 3D). He did the voice of ‘Master Croc’ in the Oscar®-nominee, and Annie Award Winner feature film, “Kung Fu Panda 2.” He starred in two action movies, “Assassination Games,” and “Six Bullets.”
“The Expendables 2” is the fourth time Van Damme has played a ‘villain’ role during his acting career; proving his ability as an actor to change the skin of the ‘macho man’ type of roles in which he is usually cast. In 2012, Van Damme acted in his first dry-humor movie, “Welcome to the Jungle.” Today, Jean-Claude Van Damme is an all-round actor; doing action, drama and comedy. There will still be more surprises to come from JCVD. While still going on with his main passion of filmmaking, through the ups and downs of life, Van Damme is also paying attention to humanitarian issues and animal rights; as he has always had a dream of spreading true peace throughout the world!
BRUCE WILLIS (Mr. Church) has demonstrated incredible versatility in a career that has included such diverse characterizations as the prizefighter in Quentin Tarantino’s, “Pulp Fiction” (1994 Palme D’Or winner at Cannes), the philandering contractor in Robert Benton’s, “Nobody’s Fool,” the heroic time traveler in Terry Gilliam’s, “12 Monkeys,” the traumatized Vietnam veteran in Norman Jewison’s, “In Country,” the compassionate child psychologist in M. Night Shyamalan’s, Oscar®-nominated, “The Sixth Sense” (for which he won the People’s Choice Award) and his signature role, Detective ‘John McClane,’ in the “Die Hard” quadrilogy.
Following studies at Montclair State College’s prestigious theater program, the New Jersey native honed his craft in several stage plays and countless television commercials, before landing the leading role in Sam Shepard’s 1984 stage drama, “Fool for Love;” a run which lasted for 100 performances off-Broadway. Willis next won international stardom and several acting awards, including Emmy® and Golden Globe® honors, for his starring role as private eye ‘David Addison’ in the hit TV series, “Moonlighting;” winning the role over 3,000 other contenders. At the same time, he made his motion picture debut opposite Kim Basinger in Blake Edwards’ romantic comedy, “Blind Date.” In 1988, he originated the role of ‘John McClane’ in the blockbuster film, “Die Hard,” one of the highest-grossing releases of the year. He later reprised the character in three sequels; “Die Hard: Die Harder” (1990), “Die Hard: With A Vengeance” (1995’s global box-office champ) and “Live Free, Die Hard” (one of the box-office hits of summer 2007).
His wide array of film roles includes collaborations with such respected filmmakers as Michael Bay (“Armageddon”), M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable”), Alan Rudolph (“Mortal Thoughts,” and “Breakfast of Champions”), Walter Hill (“Last Man Standing”), Robert Benton (“Billy Bathgate,” and “Nobody’s Fool”), Rob Reiner (“The Story of Us”), Ed Zwick (“The Siege”), Luc Besson (“The Fifth Element”), Barry Levinson (“Bandits,” and “What Just Happened”), Robert Zemeckis (“Death Becomes Her”) and Robert Rodriguez (“Sin City,” and “Grind House”) .
Other motion picture credits include “The Jackal,” “Mercury Rising,” “Hart’s War,” “The Whole Nine Yards” (and its sequel, “The Whole Ten Yards”), “The Kid,” “Tears of the Sun,” “Hostage,” “16 Blocks,” “Alpha Dog,” “Lucky Number Slevin” and “Perfect Stranger.” He also voiced the character of the wise-cracking infant, ‘Mikey,’in “Look Who’s Talking” and “Look Who’s Talking Too;” as well as the lead characters ‘RJ’ & ‘Spike’ in the animated hit features, “Over the Hedge” and “Rugrats Go Wild!”
Willis was last seen in the Golden Globe®-nominated feature film, “Red,” opposite Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and John Malkovich. He can be seen in Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” and Rian Johnson’s sci-fi thriller “Looper;” as well as this summer’s “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.” Willis is currently in production on “A Good Day To Die Hard” (the fifth installment in the popular Die Hard franchise), and will begin shooting “Red 2” this fall.
In addition to his work before the cameras, Willis produced “Hostage” and “The Whole Nine Yards” and executively produced “Breakfast of Champions;” adapted from Kurt Vonnegut’s best-selling novel. With brother David Willis, and business partner Stephen Eads, he co-founded Willis Brothers Films; a film production company based in Los Angeles.
Willis also maintains a hand in the theater. In 1997, he co-founded A Company of Fools, a non-profit theater troupe committed to developing and sustaining stage work in the Wood River Valley of Idaho and throughout the U.S. He starred in and directed a staging of Sam Shepard’s dark comedy, “True West” at the Liberty Theater in Hailey, Idaho. The play, (which depicts the troubled relationship between two brothers) was aired on Showtime and dedicated to Willis’ late brother Robert.
An accomplished musician as well, Willis recorded the 1986 Motown album, “The Return of Bruno,” which went platinum and contained the No. 5 Billboard hit, “Respect Yourself.” Three years later, he recorded a second album titled, “If It Don’t Kill You, It Just Makes You Stronger.” In 2002, he launched a U.S. club tour with his musical group, Bruce Willis and the Blues Band, and he has traveled to Iraq to play for the U.S. service men.
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (Trench) is known all over the globe for his many accomplishments: world champion bodybuilder, Hollywood action hero, successful businessman, environmentalist, philanthropist, best-selling author, and California’s 38th Governor.
This world-famous athlete and actor was born in Thal, Austria in 1947, and by the age of 20 was dominating the sport of competitive bodybuilding, becoming the youngest person ever to win the Mr. Universe title. By generating a new international audience for bodybuilding, Schwarzenegger turned himself into a sports icon. With his sights set on Hollywood, he emigrated to America in 1968, and went on to win five Mr. Universe titles and seven Mr. Olympia titles before retiring to dedicate himself to acting. Later, he would go on to earn a college degree from the University of Wisconsin and proudly became a U.S. citizen.
Schwarzenegger, who worked under the pseudonym ‘Arnold Strong’ in his first feature, “Hercules in New York,” quickly made a name for himself in Hollywood. In 1977, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association recognized him with a Golden Globe® for New Male Star of the Year for his role in “Stay Hungry” opposite Sally Field. His big break came in 1982 when the sword and sorcery epic, “Conan the Barbarian,” hit box office gold. In 1984, Schwarzenegger blew up the screen and catapulted himself into cinema history as the title character in Jim Cameron’s sci-fi thriller, “Terminator.” He is the only actor to be in both categories of the American Film Institute’s “Hundred Years of Heroes and Villains” for roles he played in the film. Other memorable characters include roles in “Commando,” “Predator,” “Twins,” “Total Recall,” “True Lies,” “Eraser,” “Collateral Damage,” “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” and a cameo in Sylvester Stallone’s homage to action films, “The Expendables” among others. To date his films have grossed over $3 billion worldwide.
In 2003 Schwarzenegger became the 38th Governor of the State of California in a historic recall election, and as governor ushered in an era of innovative leadership and extraordinary public service. Among his many achievements, Schwarzenegger signed into law the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, as well as establishing the Solar Roofs Plan, making California the leader in protecting the environment and rebuilding infrastructure. Governor Schwarzenegger also implemented the hugely successful California Film & TV Television Tax Credit Program, designed to stimulate film and TV production in the state. In recognition of these efforts, Schwarzenegger has been rewarded for his great leadership and vision many times over in many arenas including the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s National Leadership Award and in 2011 the American Council On Renewable Energy’s Renewable Energy Leader of the Decade.
But it is Schwarzenegger’s commitment to giving something back to his state and to his country through public service that gives him the most satisfaction; donating his time, energy, and personal finances to serving others all over the world. Schwarzenegger acts as Chairman of the After School All-Stars, a nationwide after-school program, and serves as coach and international torch bearer for Special Olympics. He also served as Chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under George H. W. Bush and as Chair of the California Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under Governor Pete Wilson.
He is currently working on an autobiography scheduled for publication in October 2012. The “Arnold Schwarzenegger” Museum, located in his hometown of Thal opened in 2011.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
SIMON WEST (Director), British born filmmaker, started at the BBC in London as an editor. He then moved on to direct several award-winning commercials. His films include “Con Air” starring Nic Cage, “The General’s Daughter” starring John Travolta, “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” starring Angelina Jolie and “When a Stranger Calls” starring Camilla Belle. All of these pictures either made over $100 million domestically or opened at number 1 or both.
West also served as an executive producer on the Oscar® nominated “Black Hawk Down.” He will be teaming up again with “Black Hawk Down” writer Ken Nolan to direct “Thunder Run” based on the book “Thunder Run” written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Zucchino. It is the first tank battle film in many years.
His television company has produced acclaimed series such as Fox’s “Keen Eddie,” the CBS series “Close to Home,” Fox’s “Human Target” and the NBC series “The Cape.”
West recently directed the action-packed remake of “The Mechanic” starring Jason Statham and Ben Foster. He is currently in preproduction to again direct Nic Cage in “Medallion,” a fast-paced action thriller set during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
West’s future projects consist of the biopic “Dali” based on the life and times of its namesake, the comedy “Salty” based on the novel of the same name and the witty caper “Getting Even” written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais who together penned “The Bank Job” and “Across the Universe.
AVI LERNER (Producer) is the co-chairman and founder of Nu Image, Inc., Millennium Films and all related companies. He is one of the most experienced, prolific and successful independent filmmakers of our time. Recently labeled ‘The Most Unlikely Movie Mogul’ by The Hollywood Reporter, Lerner has produced over 350 films since his career began.
Born and raised in Haifa, Israel, Lerner began as manager of Israel’s first drive-in cinema. He now regularly attends Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Toronto, Sundance, and Millennium Films’ multiple production studios to produce five to eight movies per year with such stars as Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Sylvester Stallone, Amanda Seyfried, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Jet Li and Robin Williams.
Lerner anticipated the explosion of home video rental in l979, which led to his pioneering the largest specialized video distribution company in Israel, and becoming a partner in the largest theatrical distribution company in the country.
In 1984, he executively produced the remake of “King Solomon’s Mines” and the sequel “Alan Quartermain and the Lost City of Gold.” He then sold his Israeli company and relocated to Johannesburg, South Africa, where he founded the Nu Metro Entertainment Group. The company’s interests included: owned and operated theaters; a video distribution division representing top studios and independent companies; and a production arm that made over 60 features distributed worldwide by major studios. Lerner eventually sold Nu Metro to join MGM United Artists while still producing feature films.
In 1992 he moved to Los Angeles and opened Nu Image, Inc. Finding success producing and distributing for home entertainment, the Nu Image brand continued to expand. In 1996, Millennium Films was formed and began producing features, while Nu Image continued to cater to the lucrative international home-video market.
Under the Millennium Films label, Lerner has produced numerous titles that include: the $274 million box office hit “The Expendables,” starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Mickey Rourke; “Rambo IV” also directed by and featuring Stallone; “Righteous Kill,” with legendary actors Al Pacino and Robert De Niro; “16 Blocks” featuring Bruce Willis and Mos Def; and “The Mechanic” with Jason Statham and Donald Sutherland.
Other films include: the dramedy, “Straight A’s” staring Anna Paquin, Ryan Phillippe, and Luke Wilson; “The Big Wedding,” with Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Susan Sarandon, Amanda Seyfried, Diane Keaton, and Robin Williams; the Gerard Butler romantic comedy “Playing the Field; and “The Paperboy,” based on the novel by Peter Dexter, starring Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, and Zac Efron, directed by Academy Award® nominee, Lee Daniels.
For over two decades, KEVIN KING-TEMPLETON (Producer) has been associated with Rogue Marble Productions; the production company of writer, director, and actor, Sylvester Stallone. During his tenure he has found his forte in the action genre, producing projects with a global reach. From the remote jungles of Brazil and Thailand to the most cosmopolitan cities. In addition to Stallone, King-Templeton has worked with acclaimed acting heavyweights such as Robert De Niro, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harvey Keitel, Mickey Rourke, Michael Caine, and Anthony Quinn.
The British-born King-Templeton has overseen some of the most astounding action sequences in motion picture history, including those shot on location in Bulgaria for “The Expendables 2.” His additional credits as a producer include “The Expendables,” directed by Sylvester Stallone and released in 2010 to Number One at the box office.
He also produced “Inferno: The Making of the Expendables,” which is an independent documentary that gives audiences an unvarnished look deep inside the filmmaking process of “The Expendables.”
King-Templeton also produced “Bullet to the Head,” director Walter Hill’s first theatrical feature in a decade. Previously, he produced the latest installment of “Rambo,” shot in the remote inner jungles of Burma; which continued the saga of the heroic Vietnam Vet ‘John Rambo.’ He also produced “Rocky Balboa,” a critical and audience success, which definitively confirmed both Sylvester Stallone and ‘Rocky’ as iconic cultural symbols. Additionally, he produced “Avenging Angelo” and “Driven.” He also served as associate producer on “Get Carter” and the critically acclaimed “Cop Land,” for director James Mangold. For television, he developed and produced a pilot for Paramount Pictures Television and The CBS Network entitled, “Father Lefty.”
He is also executively producing the highly anticipated musical production, “Rocky,” based on the original 1976 Academy Award® winning motion picture; for Stage Entertainment in Hamburg, Germany, and will eventually bring the show over to America for the Broadway Stage.
King-Templeton is currently producing “The Tomb,” for Summit Entertainment.
DANNY LERNER (Producer) was born in Israel, and his industry career started in film distribution. He went on to manage a cinema chain and subsequently moved into production when he joined Nu World Productions in 1986. Since then, he has produced over 70 films and has shot on location in South Africa, Namibia, Israel, Mexico, Bulgaria, Canada, and the United States. In 2003, he founded Tosca Pictures with long-time friend, Les Weldon.
They recently completed the feature movie, “Target of Opportunity,” with Dean Cochran and Todd Jensen in Bulgaria. His director credits include “Traitor’s Heart,” with Bryan Genesse and “Shark Zone” with Dean Cochran; which was followed by “Raging Sharks,” which he wrote, directed, and produced. In 2005, he was able to work on two more titles including “Finding Rin Tin Tin” and “Today You Die” with Steven Seagal. In 2010, he embarked on another family adventure known as “Cool Dog.”
LES WELDON (Producer) is a writer/producer, whose diverse portfolio includes action films, thrillers, comedies, and network television. His credits include 13 films, starring Jean-Claude Van Dame, Steven Seagal, Dolph Lundgren and Charlton Heston, among others. He has produced titles including Sylvester Stallone’s international hit, “The Expendables;” “Train,” with Thora Birch; and the John Cusack movie, “War, Inc,” starring Ben Kingsley, Marisa Tomei, and Hillary Duff.
Les has written on location in five continents and seven countries, including the United States, Canada, England, Israel, Hong Kong, Venezuela, and Bulgaria. Born and raised in Brazil, by age twelve Les had already won a junior Pan-American writing contest. At seventeen, he had his first short story, “The Book,” published in Sandstone Magazine.
Les attended the University of Southern California, where he majored in Business Administration, with a minor in Film. Upon graduation, Les was commissioned to write two features for Sony Studios. Following that, Les began writing for the CBS series “Dangerous Curves.” Les’ most recent credits include the critically acclaimed, “Replicant,” which garnered Van Damme a Best Actor nomination at the DVD Premiere awards; “Hidden Agenda,” a Dolph Lundgren action-thriller; and “The Order,” where he worked once again with Van Damme.
Les formed a new company, Tosca Pictures, with partner Danny Lerner. Their first effort, “Target of Opportunity,” was written by Les and directed by Danny. Les and Danny followed it up with “Raging Sharks,” a sci-fi action film.
From Lionsgate and Millennium Films, THE EXPENDABLES 2, a film by Simon West, is the highly anticipated sequel to the summer 2010 worldwide box-office success ($274 million worldwide). The film stars Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, with Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, with newest cast members Liam Hemsworth, Scott Adkins, martial arts legends Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Chinese actress Yu Nan as the first female EXPENDABLE. The film is directed by Simon West. Screenplay by Richard Wenk and Sylvester Stallone. Story by Ken Kaufman & David Agosto and Richard Wenk. Based on Characters Created by David Callaham. The film is produced by Avi Lerner, Kevin King-Templeton, Danny Lerner and Les Weldon. Jon Feltheimer, Jason Constantine, Eda Kowan, Basil Iwanyk and Guymon Casady serve as Executive Producers along with Danny Dimbort, Boaz Davidson and Trevor Short. Lionsgate and Millennium Films present a Nu Image production.
THE EXPENDABLES 2 has been rated R by the MPAA for strong bloody violence throughout. The film will be released in theaters nationwide on August 17, 2012.
© 2012 Lionsgate