Why Was Jean-Claude Van Damme Deemed Expendable for 'The Expendables'?· August 13, 2010
In "The Expendables," Sylvester Stallone's latest guns-blazing return to the multiplex, the actor/director assembled a dream team of action stars to assist him with the very important work of blowing up everything in sight. Most notably, he recruited onetime big-screen rivals like Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Dolph Lundgren for his latest cinematic mission. An impressive collective of talent, to be sure, but the all-star roster of shoot-'em-up heroes has at least one glaring omission: Jean-Claude Van Damme. Whither the "Muscles from Brussels," star of "Hard Target," "Timecop," and "Universal Solider"?
Van Damme, it turns out, did get a call from Stallone to join his team of Expendables, but he wasn't thrilled with the pitch. He told TotalFilm, "Stallone gave me a part in his next movie. [He] said, 'You're gonna make lots of money.' I don't want to hear that, I want to hear what was my character. He was unable to tell what it's going to be." So Van Damme, showing admirable dedication to the purity of his craft, passed.
In a 2009 press conference, Van Damme recounted pretty much the same story, adding that he'd advised Stallone that, instead of doing "The Expendables," Stallone should make a movie where Sly plays a "tough priest." According to Van Damme, Stallone found this "insulting." If nothing else, Van Damme does do a pretty nifty Stallone impression.
At this year's Comic-Con, Stallone addressed the casting offers, including two other high-profile no-shows that were not meant to be. His take differs slightly: "I talked to Van Damme. I talked to [Steven] Segal. I even talked to Chuck Norris." He then added, "But there are certain considerations, like insanity."
In fairness to Van Damme, the actor does seem to have a somewhat more introspective take on his career of late. In 2008, he starred in the independent film "JCVD," playing a fictionalized version of himself: an out-of-work action star who finds himself at a bank while it's being robbed. Of course, Van Damme's newfound introspection doesn't explain why he starred in 2009's "Universal Soldier: Regeneration."
"The Expendables," opening this weekend, tells the story of a group of mercenaries who attempt to overthrow the government of a small South American island. In addition to the aforementioned line-up of Stallone, Willis, Schwarzenegger, and Lundgren, Jet Li, Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, and Jason Statham join in on the mayhem.