Interview: Sylvester Stallone Promises R-Rated ‘Expendables 4’

Stallone calls the PG-13 rating for Expendables 3 'a horrible miscalculation.'

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

This month CraveOnline was given the opportunity ti interview Sylvester Stallone himself for the DVD and Blu-ray release of The Expendables 3. The interview had to be conducted by e-mail, so I did my best to load as many follow-up questions in each one to get the most detailed answer possible. Fans of R-rated action will most certainly like his answer to the final question about the PG-13ification of Expendables 3 (which, for the record, was not a problem for me). The sequel comes to DVD and Blu-ray in an unrated addition as well as the theatrical, and is available November 25. 


Related: ‘Expendables 3’ Director Patrick Hughes Pitches a Time-Traveling ‘Expendables 4’


The Expendables 3 Blu-rayCraveOnline:  I find that all of your films explore what it means to be a man, both the nobility and vulnerability of masculinity. The Rocky films may be about our emotional side, the Rambo films about the tragedy of our capacity for violence, and many other standalone films. Would you agree with my analysis and where would the Expendable films fit into that theme?

Sylvester Stallone: The analysis is interesting. The way this film fits into the theme is that The Expendables is about reliance upon your fellow man – or “brother” – in times of need and in times of peace. This is about companionship, that no man stands alone in this world. 

I’m glad Hale Caesar survived getting shot by Stonebanks, just like Gunner came back at the end of Expendables 1. So far the only Expendable who’s actually been expended is Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth in Ex 2). Is it important that the Expendables persevere, and whoever is your favorite Expendable, you can feel safe they’ll be back?   

This is a big conflict for me because in an R-rated film it is difficult to believe that none of the heroes die. I personally just believe that the characters become identifiable and their demise could put a dark cloud over an audience exiting the theatre after seeing the film. But that may change in Expendables 4

Patrick Hughes told us he thinks in the next sequel the Expendables should travel through time to WWII. Would you ever let the Expendables get that crazy?  

I have actually entertained the idea of putting the group into such an unnatural environment that it, in an of itself, creates extra suspense and tension: the “fish out of water” scenario. That environment might not be time travel, but nearly just as jarring. 

Antonio Banderas was a revelation in this movie. How did you think up that character who talks too much but kicks ass? Was it at all based on knowing Banderas personally?  

It was from my relationship of having worked with Antonio before that allowed me to realize what he is capable of. His true personality is naturally dynamic so all I did was say “be yourself and pretend you’re a mercenary,” and the rest including the dialog was all his. 

Was Mel Gibson ever approached to direct, or only to act? 

I wanted Mel Gibson to direct originally because he’s an extraordinary filmmaker. But after several months of discussing it, this ultimately was not to be. But he did say he wanted to be in the movie – and play the villain. My response was a  definite “YES…. Suit up.”

Snipes was your original choice for Hale Caesar. When he was available for Expendables 3, how did you develop the new character Doc for him?  

I thought it would be interesting to have the audience realize that The Expendables have been together for years and that some of their former mentors have ended up in dramatic predicaments – such as moonlighting on their own – in this case involving a bungled political assassination in a small African nation which landed Wesley’s character in prison. And since Wesley’s personal predicament with the law was very well known, he thought this would be an interesting fusion between his real life and fiction.

This Blu-ray features an extended unrated version of Expendables 3. Do you think future Expendables movies should be R-rated from the get go?  

Absolutely unequivocally yes. I believe it was a horrible miscalculation on everyone’s part in trying to reach a wider audience, but in doing such, diminish the violence that the audience expects. I’m quite certain it won’t happen again. 


Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Best Episode Ever. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.