ComingSoon’s Jonathan Sim recently spoke with director Scott Waugh (Need for Speed, Hidden Strike) about his new movie Expendables 4 about making a sequel in the franchise.
“A new generation of stars join the world’s top action stars for an adrenaline-fueled adventure in Expend4bles,” reads the official synopsis. “Reuniting as the team of elite mercenaries, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Sylvester Stallone are joined for the first time by Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, and Andy Garcia.”
“Armed with every weapon they can get their hands on and the skills to use them, The Expendables are the world’s last line of defense and the team that gets called when all other options are off the table. But new team members with new styles and tactics are going to give “new blood” a whole new meaning.”
Jonathan Sim: You’ve directed action movies before, but never with an action ensemble like in Expendables 4. So what was the biggest difference in your process between this movie and your previous work?
Scott Waugh: For myself to work on something like Expendables, it’s, kind of once in a lifetime, when you’re working with some of the greatest legends in the action arena, there wasn’t much of a difference when it comes to filmmaking for me. ‘Cause characters are characters and story is story, right? So whether there’s two actors in the room or there’s six, to me, it’s still the same service in the story. So just the beauty on this one was I could collaborate more with the actors within the action ’cause they all have a great action background to begin with. So it was a little bit more exciting for myself on Expendables 4.
When joining a franchise like Expendables, how do you create a sequel that feels unique to you while also maintaining the DNA of the series?
I that’s super important to maintain the brand. I mean, I think the worst thing a filmmaker can do is come in and totally change the franchise, you know, and piss off all the fans. So I think when I came in, I really wanted to tonally go back to the original Expendables that [Sylvester Stallone] directed. So we really leaned into a lot of homages that throw back to that one. And there’s a little bit of Expendables 2 in there. And the only thing that I really wanted to do to elevate it for me with this one is, obviously, we kill small armies. Obviously, we blow up a lot of stuff, but I wanted to elevate the fights. And so with that, I brought in the Jackie Chan Hong Kong fight team that I worked with on my previous movie [Hidden Strike], and really kind of elevated the brand and the style of the fights that we have in this film. So it really now, for me, is a complete action movie.
So tell me a little bit about what it was like working with this huge ensemble cast of action heroes.
You know, in life, you get a few chances to check a box that you wanna complete before you die, you know? And for me it was always working with Sly and working with Arnold [Schwarzenegger]. So when I got the chance to come on Expendables I was super excited to check the box with Sly. You know, him and I have been trying to work together for a while, and now I’m on a current movie with Arnold. So I can die peacefully coming up shortly. But with the rest of the cast it’s just exciting working with a lot of testosterone, you know? And we had two incredible female actresses in the movie, you know, between Megan [Fox] and Levy [Tran] andthey both can really do their own stunts. So it was incredible to collaborate with those types of actors and it’s just exciting working with such raw talent.
Just between us, which actor in the cast did the most of their own stunts?
There’s no one above the other. They obviously blow your mind, some of them at the age that they’re at, the ability they can still do, you know? And I’m like, man, I’m 53. I was a stuntman, but I’m busted up. I can’t do it anymore. I can sit in a chair gracefully. So you know, I was very impressed with all of ’em. And there really wasn’t one that did more than the other.
When you have a cast that, that includes people like Jason [Statham] and Tony [Jaa] and all these people, I feel like they’re all gonna commit to it, and especially Iko from The Raid. Like they’re gonna bring it.
And I’m telling you, that’s what the coolest thing when we read the script and when I casted Iko, I was like, dude, the audience is just gonna wanna watch Jason and Iko go at it. So we designed, like, that’s the biggest moment in the movie for me, and we designed this, this three and a half minute fight between these two guys just going at it. And it was so exciting because you don’t need stunt doubles when you got Iko and Jason, you know, and they can just, they can do all the moves. So that was super fun.
I think that was the moment, like in the trailer where I was just like, I am definitely seeing this movie.
Yeah, I know. And Tony Jaa, bro, Tony Jaa’s amazing, man. Absolutely. That guy’s one of
the coolest persons I’ve ever met because he is just such a nice, he’s the most humble, nicest
man that I’ve worked with. And his ability is always so impressive of what he can do as a fight guy.
if they ask you to come back for let’s say a fifth Expendables movie, are there any dream actors that you would love to see join this franchise?
Look, I would be thrilled if they wanted me to come back for five. You know, it was such an awesome experience working with all these guys. You know, I don’t really have any focus on newcomers yet. If they ask me, you know, I think really we have to see kinda where it’s at and what’s the story most importantly. And then, then once we find out what the story is, then we, we would go after actors. I think, you know, sometimes we go the other way, other way around, let’s find the actors and try to fit a story within them. And I think that’s why this fourth one pays so much to the first one, because we wrote the story first, then find the actors that could facilitate the story.
What would you say that your cinematic inspirations are for both Expendables 4, and I guess a lot of your filmmaking style?
Look, my filmmaking experience and style comes from my father. My father was the original Spider-Man and also had a high influence in camera work and second-unit directing. So his mode of operandi back in the eighties was always to try to put the audience into the boots of the film so that they were immersed into the story. So he’s the original designer of that helmet camera that now has become the GoPro sensation of the world, right? That’s all goes back to shooting film in the eighties. And he was the one that came up with the Pogo camera, which is the pre, the previous predecessor before the Steadicam. So all of these ways to move the camera was all on my influence from my father.
Expendables 4 is obviously this big franchise, and I, I think that that it’s one of those things that a lot of people have always been able to come back to over the years, myself included. But are there any other franchises in Hollywood that you would potentially be interested in directing a movie for?
You know, I think it’s really fun being part of any type of brand that’s action fun, you know, I mean, some of the Marvel movies are great and the Fast [and Furious] series to me tonally is right in the strike zone as well. You know, if you can create entertainment where the audience is excited to spend their money because they get to escape the dark world we live in and go have some fun and enjoy, have a Coke and a popcorn, those for me are the franchises I wanna be a part of.