“Expendables 3” could have been called “The Dependables” for its return of the action-movie stars we’ve come to expect, including ringleader Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and 3rd Dan black belt and real-life chemical engineer Dolph Lundgren.
There are the jack-in-the-box new old guys, including Harrison Ford, and the welcome return of Wesley Snipes. But there’s also a huge massive infusion of young blood, including Kellan Lutz of “Twilight,” former boxing champion Victor Ortiz and current UFC champion Ronda Rousey (of the recent 16-second knockout). The Chronicle asked the baby Expendables and Fulbright scholar (seriously!) Lundgren about the meeting of the generations.
What were some of your favorite action movies, growing up?
Rousey: Being a fighter, I grew up watching “Rocky.” The first real action movie I can remember watching was “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” with Harrison Ford. Oh my God, in “Temple of Doom,” when he went all crazy from drinking that stuff and then the chick spits in his face, and he smiles back at her. Oh my God, that was creepy, I loved it! I was a huge “Star Wars” fan, growing up. Yeah, I was a big, big dork.
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Ortiz: The “Rocky” films did a lot for me as a kid. They gave me, as a street kid, a vision and a dream that maybe the silly thought that I could be world champion one day could come true. I ran with it. I mean, I don’t tell Sylvester Stallone how I feel about him as Rocky, but the man has served more than a small purpose in my life.
Lutz: Whatever ones my mother never caught me watching. Definitely “Rambo,” “Rambo” was a huge one of mine. I’m a huge “Blade” fanatic. Wesley’s a stud. That’s one of my favorite vampire movies.
Lundgren: There’s a soft spot in my heart for “Rocky” because I was in one of those movies. I love the first movie, the ambiance and the performances. I love the scenes between Rocky and his trainer.
Did you geek out at all?
Rousey: I lost it when I met Harrison Ford. I couldn’t talk. I stuttered. I made a total fool of myself. I was so embarrassed. But I’m sure he didn’t even notice me.
Ortiz: My “whoa” moments were with Sylvester Stallone, but I didn’t let that show. (Cool voice) “I assume you know quite a bit about boxing.” (Takes on Stallone’s basso mumble) “I sparred with Roberto Duran back in the day. Hands of stone.” And I’m like, “Oh my goodness, he’s talking to me about huge legends he had the privilege to spar with and telling me these stories about him as a youngster.” I was in awe.
Lutz: (After explaining he wasn’t raised to worship celebrity culture) I loved Dolph’s He-Man (“Masters of the Universe”). I’d been into He-Man since I was a little kid, I used to have the coloring books. I just saw Dolph down at Comic-Con and I was like, “You gotta sign your He-Man headshot.” He wrote, “From one He-Man to the next.”
Of the “classic” crew, who still looks totally badass?
Rousey: I would say Randy Couture because he was actually an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter. I don’t want to make any enemies by answering that one! Probably Dolph Lundgren because he has a kickboxing background.
Ortiz: Randy Couture, hands down. He'll beat the crap out of somebody, for sure. Dolph Lundgren is an animal, and he’s an actual fighter, too.
Lutz: Antonio Banderas, I was a huge fan of his in “Zorro” – he’s not this big, badass, huge-muscled guy, he’s just quick and twisty. And he hasn’t aged one bit. I’ve never met someone so suave. The words that come out of his mouth, you just sit there and say, “You are made for a romance novel.”
Of the whippersnappers, who impresses you?
Lundgren: They all impress me because they have such great attitudes … They remind you of what you were like at their age; they can do take after take after take without being banged up and having aches and pains like some of us old guys do. They’re such nice kids and willing to work, respectful. I’ve spent time with Kellan Lutz, and he reminds me of me a little bit when I was that age. Granted, I was a chemical engineer (Lutz studied to be one), but he’s a big guy, comes from a small town, he’s strong and an athlete. (Lundgren then offers a concise technical analysis of Rousey’s 16-second knockout fight.) That was quite impressive.
Ortiz: Well, I'll tell you this much: Ronda is amazing. She’s a very impressive person to watch. Outside the Octagon, she’s this sweetheart, then she turns it up and becomes this vicious animal and I’m like, “Nice.”
Who’s the funniest person in the cast?
Rousey: Antonio. Antonio Banderas. He was hilarious. He would go out of his way to make sure every single person around him was comfortable. We were all in this tiny little shed … and he starts doing the Puss in Boots voice: “ ‘Hmmm, I like your gun.’ ”
Ortiz: Jason Statham and Antonio Banderas – my goodness, the three of us would be like little kids, messing with everyone.
Lutz: Antonio Banderas. Everything that comes out of his mouth is layered with humor.
Lundgren: Stallone, certainly. He’s the funniest. The other guy who’s very funny is Terry Crews.
Who would you like to see as an Expendables villain?
Rousey: Well, I was just on Reddit the other day and happened to stumble across The Rock’s (Dwayne Johnson’s) AMA (Ask Me Anything), and they asked him about “Expendables,” and he said he wanted to be the bad guy. I thought that would be super-cool.
Lutz: I think maybe Javier Bardem.
Lundgren: There’s Kurt Russell if he’d want to play a villain. Clint Eastwood … They were after Sean Connery at some point. There’s Steven Seagal, if he’d want to do it. He’s a formidable presence.