Sylvester Stallone‘s current writing/directing/acting project The Expendables is quickly shaping up to be one of the greatest action movies of all time. Indeed apart from Stallone, the film already stars Jason Statham (the Transporter movies) and Jet Li (The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor), and now Dolph Lundgren has joined the cast, reuniting with Stallone 23 years after their epic boxing match in Rocky IV.
The casting was announced by Stallone at the premiere of Transporter 3 in Las Vegas. Lundgren was actually Stallone’s second choice, but Jean-Claude Van Damme (who co-starred with Lundgren in Universal Soldier) turned down the offer, saying he wanted to take his career in another direction. Arnold Schwarzenegger (the Terminator films) has also been offered a part as has Forest Whitaker (Street Kings).
Set in South America, the film will follow a group of mercenaries that take dangerous jobs that no one else will as they attempt to overthrow a dictator and the opening scene reportedly features Statham’s character eliminating a Mexican drug lord while dressed as a homosexual. The Expendables should start filming early next year in Louisiana and Costa Rica for a 2010 release.
This will of course not be Stallone’s first stab at directing. The man has indeed plenty of experience behind the camera, having written or co-written most of his films and directed quite a few of them (including the last Rambo film and four of the Rocky movies). Stallone has talent there is no doubt, and a lot of people seem to forget that his screenplay for the first Rocky was Oscar-nominated.
Filming will begin this month in Shreveport, Louisiana on the coming-of-age drama Skateland. The cast includes a bunch of fresh and veteran faces, including Ashley Greene (King Of California), Haley Ramm (Into The Wild), James LeGros (Vantage Point), Taylor Handley (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning), and probably Shiloh Fernandez (CBS’ Jericho).
Shiloh Fernandez is in final negotiations to play Ritchie Wheeler, a teen forced out of a job when his small-town roller rink shuts down. He faces tough decisions about his future, his parents’ divorce and complicated relationships with friends Brent (co-screenwriter Heath Freeman) and Kenny (Taylor Handley), his sister Mary (Ramm) and Brent’s sister Michelle (Greene). LeGros plays Brent and Michelle’s father.
Set in the eighties, the independent film’s creative team is composed of several newcomers including director Anthony Burns and screenwriting brothers Brandon, Heath and Burns Freeman.
Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker (Street Kings) will direct his fourth big-screen movie, a Louis Armstrong biopic titled What A Wonderful World, in which he’ll play the lead role, making this the first time he’ll act in one of his directing efforts.
Louis Armstrong was of course an incredibly famous jazz trumpetist and singer, active throughout most of the 20th century and probably best-known for the song which gave the movie its title. The film will start shooting next summer and Louisiana, and you can bet they’ll release it in 2011 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Armstrong’s birth.
The strange thing here is that while Whitaker is well-respected as an actor, he isn’t considered to be good director at all, with his last effort being the widely reviled First Daughter. Another strange thing is that the film is being produced by a Frenchman, Alain Goldman, to his credit no stranger to musical biopics after last year’s hit La Vie En Rose.