Sylvester Stallone’s high-octane film franchise, The Expendables, created by David Callaham, is known for being home to the most formidable legends in Hollywood. The movie franchise, which consisted of three successful reboots, was created to pay homage to the iconic blockbusters of the 1980s and 1990s, along with the action stars of the decade.
With an ensemble cast featuring venerated figures, including Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, and Chuck Norris, among others, The Expendables stands as the embodiment of action stars’ timeless reuniting. Despite a franchise that features several well-known actors, several big names turned down the offers to appear.
Action Stars Who Turned Down The Expendables
The Expendables, which was incepted in 2010, has been a box office success, grossing a massive $103.1 million worldwide. The Expendables 2 sequel upped its ante with much more star power. The Expendables 3 featured the largest cast the series had ever seen, but its PG-13 rating made it a financial failure. Usually, Sylvester Stallone has a wishlist of actors in mind for each Expendables movie, but not always he can make them bored. Here is a list of these action heroes who didn’t want to be part of the movie at some point.
The Die Hard franchise star, Bruce Willis appeared in the sequel installment of The Expendables as Mr. Church, an expanded role compared to the first film. Following, the actor, who was originally set for his Expendable 3 return, but a pay dispute prevented the actor from reprising the role. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Willis used to receive around $3 million for a four-day shoot; however, the actor demanded more pay. Sylvester Stallone, the creator and actor of the franchise, refused to meet Willis’ demand and cast Harrison Ford as Drummer in Part 3 and called Willis “greedy and lazy.
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Action star Jean-Claude Van Damme, referred to as “The Muscles from Brussels” burst into Hollywood in the 1980s and gained fame for his impressive fighting moves in movies like Bloodsport, Kickboxer, Universal Soldier, and Timecop. The Muscles from Brussels was initially approached by Stallone, but declined the role, citing that the story wasn’t compelling enough to commit.
Speaking to Total Film in 2009, the actor said, He said, “You’re gonna make lots of money.’ I don’t want to hear that, I want to hear what was my character”. Later, the actor changed his heart and accepted to join the franchise, taking on the vicious Vilian role of Jean-Vilain in The Expendable 2.
Prominent for his role in the Blade franchise, Wesley Snipes was originally considered to play a mini-cameo role named Hale Caesar in The Expendables. Hale Caesar is highly skilled in weaponry and a key member of the team of mercenaries led by Stallone’s Barney Ross. Unfortunately, the actor got involved in a serious tax-related issue that ultimately led him to a three-year prison sentence, which propelled him to drop his Expendables deal. Later, the actor returned to the franchise. He was cast in The Expendables 3, but as a different role name, Doc Death.
Antonio Banderas was offered a role in The Expendables 2. Unfortunately, he had to decline the role due to scheduling conflicts. Despite having missed the previous movie, Banderas eventually joined in the reboot as the character Galgo. In an interview with Collider, the actor said,
“They asked me to do [‘Expendables 2’]. I don’t think at this point I will have the time. I am very disappointed that it didn’t work out”.
Similarly, Stallone always wanted to cast Jackie Chan in his action films. Despite being asked several times, Chan expressed his dislike and never appeared in any of The Expendables movies. According to Chan, scheduling conflicts with the movie CZ12 prevented him from accepting the role.
Later, the actor agreed to appear in The Expendables 3 but wanted a more substantial role rather than a cameo appearance. Meanwhile, the martial star also suggested the idea to Stallone to do a team-up or a buddy movie with him. He didn’t want to be in a regular star-studded Expendables where he had to share the screen with many actors.
Jason Statham takes the lead in Expend4bles
The Expendables 4 is officially titled Expend4bles. It was already known that the story that follows a group of mercenaries who embark on a high-octane action quest with Sylvester Stallone’s Barney Ross will be stepping back, and Jason Statham’s character, Lee Christmas, will spearhead the team. Also, the story will focus on other main characters whom we have seen in previous movies.
The Expendables 4 is directed by stunt performer and filmmaker Scott Waugh and is scheduled to release on September 22, 2023.