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Day 1 of 5: STALLONE answers AICN Reader Questions! Bruce Lee, Horror, POE, Venezuela, I. Basterds, EXPENDABLES & More!!!

Hey folks, Harry here and I just have to say... It was so much fun sharing the stage with Stallone and his EXPENDABLES in HALL H this past Thursday. Prior to the panel, in the Green Room - the tone for the panel got set by something Barry Levine of Radical Media told me. He's friends with Steve Austin, whom I'd never met, and told me to tell Steve that Barry told me to say, "BLOW ME" to Steve. And to get a message back. Well. I'd be lying if the thought of Stone Cold Steve Austin killing me upon telling him to BLOW ME, but Steve just smiled and said, "CALL ME BUBBLES" - all part of some secret night of Awesome that those two shared a while back. But we just hit it off great. Terry Crews, Steve Austin, Sly, Dolph and Randy Couture were just fun guys to chat with. We did no rehearsal - and during the first clip, Sly ran over to me on stage and said, "Throw Randy a question about the fighting style he wanted to bring," - otherwise - we were just playing fast and loose. Afterwards, backstage the "MEN" were "BOYS" high fiving, laughing and pumped way the hell up by the reaction they were given in HALL H which was ELECTRIC. We've only got 4 more days of questions, and I sent the next batch off just 5 minutes ago. BUT - you should know - I have received well over 3000 submissions. If you want a shot of getting a question in, Follow the Rules on my Original Posting and wear DEPENDS to THE EXPENDABLES - I have a strong feeling you could piss yourself. Here's the first 10:

1. "" Mr. Stallone. I've searched far and long for a comment from you on one of the most prolific action stars in motion picture history, which of course is Bruce Lee. Can you tell me your thoughts on him and his films- especially now that you worked with Jet Li, a terrific martial artist...and also, where you were and your thoughts on Bruce's untimely passing in 1973? Myself and my fam look forward to paying to see multiple showings of your awesome retro-revival of 100% pure action entertainment with The Expendables. Sincerely and respectfully, The Heathcoat Family""" Simi Valley, Ca golfing misses you (-: thank you so much Mr. Knowles

STALLONE: 1. To the Heathcoat Family: Bruce Lee is rightfully legendary in martial arts and in cinema. He had the one defining element that secured that position, which is charisma. Charisma combined with looks and extraordinary skill basically secured the future of Asian action films and opened the door for hundreds of predecessors. His untimely death was a true catastrophe because he would have gone on to direct and produce what I believe would have been a series of action classics.

2. To Sly Stallone: Love you, man. And I have to say, I really appeciate the creativity and thought you've put into your projects over the past few years. "Rambo" isn't a simple "paint-by-numbers" sequel and it stands on its own without having to be part of a series. I was skeptical about whether it would work until I saw that first trailer and knew the footage raised the bar. "The Expendables" is a great concept: an "Ocean's 11"-style action cast that is EPIC. This is the kind of stuff that gets guys like me excited about going to the movies again, especially after a mostly terrible summer. (Inception and Toy Story 3 being the exceptions.) In that spirit of thinking outside the box, would you ever consider doing a movie like "Zombieland"? It doesn't necessarily have to be a "zombie" project. Could be vampires or werewolves or whatever. I would just love to see you killing a bunch of blood-thirsty monsters in a post-apocalyptic type scenario with a lot of horror-gore ass-kicking. It's something you've never done before but it's something I'd love to see. I'm really looking forward to both "Poe" and "Death Wish" as well. I'm hoping "Death Wish" will be kind of like "Taken" but even more brutal. I think that's an awesome choice for you. Ben

2. Ben: First of all, I’m a big fan of horror and directorial techniques associated with that genre. It’s not easy to keep people on the edge of their seats for two hours. Therefore I’m intrigued and always have been with the idea of doing a film that deals with conceivable horror, a creation that could possibly exist. So I am definitely looking forward to that challenge. The best of all worlds would be throwing THE EXPENDABLES in that macabre mix. I know people are saying ‘That’s crazy.’ Well so is the concept of birth, but it happens on a daily basis. To me, everything’s been done and it’s a matter of how you reinterpret styles and concepts to make them fresh, original, unexpected.

3. This comes from Justin G in Manhattan, New York: Dear Mr. Stallone, Among the current crop of actors around, is there anyone (aside from the people in your latest film, of course) who you think has the skill, charisma, whatever it takes to be the kind of action star we need to see kicking ass for the next ten summers, or have things changed to the point where it takes the vets like you guys to really shake Hollywood up with a bonecrunching film? Essentially, will there ever be another group of folks like you, Arnold and Bruce? Or has that ship sailed? Thanks. And keep kicking ass till you're 106. -Justin G

3. Justin: Truthfully, yet sadly, the ship did sail on action brothers such as myself, Bruce, Arnold, Jackie Chan and Chuck Norris. Because each generation is defined differently, such as the generation before with Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin. Today’s actors come with a different sensibility and outlook on life in general, so therefore they have to create their own style, which probably would be a bit more visual. Do I think there are some tough guys out there? Absolutely. They just can’t be too pretty, otherwise you become a bit distracted by their looks, which may tend to border on the unbelievable. One thing about all action characters, with the exception of Clint Eastwood, is that we are definitely not on the overly handsome side. There are definitely some good, young, I would say tough actors that could make the cut. I was going to have a couple of them in THE EXPENDABLES, but unfortunately we ran out of money. I’m not going to mention names because I don’t want them to sneak up on me one night and beat me to death before I’ve had a chance to have dinner.

4. Sly, Are you still entertaining the idea of an Edgar Allan Poe movie? As a Baltimore native and huge fan of EA Poe and his writings, I'd love to see a movie based on his life. If you were behind such a project, would the movie be fair to Poe and his legacy without falling into the slanderous characterizations which were publicized by Rufus Griswold? Thanks, Tom Palmer Baltimore, MD

4. Tom: Yes, there is going to be a POE project that either I do or some other fella does. Now, no matter what I do, it’s never going to live up to the hype that’s been welling up in the press for 35 plus years. So, it will probably be sub-par and horrible compared to public expectation. That’s why, People, it’s best to keep your mouth shut about your dreams and ambitions, because now or otherwise you’re going to be scrutinized by the hype. That aside, the way I approach Poe is as a man who has an exuberance for life, which I believe all young artists do, whether they admit it or not and how being so overly creative in such a provincial time in America’s literary development caused him to be shunned and branded an eccentric. This coupled with his own personal tragedies and demons spun his life out of control.

5. Joe Eszterhas is on record saying that you broke 3 of director Ted Kotcheff's ribs on the set of "First Blood" over a creative disagreement. What was the disagreement? Andy Atlanta, GA

5. Andy: First of all, it was actually MY ribs that were broken, thank you very much. What happened was, oh here comes another dark secret mired in my jaded past: I was doing the scene in FIRST BLOOD where I’m in the cell being whipped in the lower back with a piece of rubber hose. David Caruso was standing directly behind me. After every hit with the hose, David’s character was suppose to exclaim ‘Jesus, can’t you see this guy’s crazy?’ and then I get hit again. We had about four takes and David had repeated the line perfectly on each take, yet the director said ‘Let’s try it again.’ At this point my back was on fire and I turned to the director and said ‘How many more times are you going to do this? The kid said it perfectly.’ And the director basically said ‘Just shut up and do it again.’ As he came forward, I pushed him back and the next thing I knew I was tackled by a pair of security men and driven against the cell wall, which in turn cracked my rib. Anyway, after several moments, everything cooled down, we all apologized and marched on. It’s a crazy business, what more can I tell you?

6. Recently a local newspaper asked me over the phone, what person would you most like to meet?(as part of a profile thingy), anyway, the only name that jumped out at me was Sly Stallone, so I literally said "this might surprise you but it would have to be Sly Stallone", I went on to explain about his involvement in the Visual Arts scene and his development as a painter himself. What Id like to ask Sly is how (if at all) has his journey into the world of visual art (over the past few decades) influenced both his film making and visceral imagery? Regards, Declan Ireland, Drogheda. ps. keep the action coming! :D and thanks for not using CGI rubbish that litters most modern movies.

6. Declan: Painting and the visual arts are inseparable from the way I make films. There’s an extremely personal taste in choosing angles for shots coupled with framing, coupled with creative lighting and then the perspective of how the actors are placed. One art form definitely supports the other and actually influences the writing as well.

7. Hey Harry. Hey Sly. When I saw the last Rambo movie, to me it seemed like you've taken the role of this generations John Wayne. In that everyone's followed you all these years and just want to see you stand up for whats right and put the young punks in their place in a no bullshit way. So in the John Wayne vein, would you ever do a western? Maybe with Kurt Russell? Clark Hinckley Connecticut

7. Clark: Well, before I wanted to enter this business, I was seriously considering a career in the horse breeding business. I am very comfortable with the creatures. So a western would be fantastic as long as I could surround myself with some gnarly bastards who can add to the raw boned reality of the bygone era.

Harry here. YES PLEASE, SLY!

8. Hi Sly, What do you think the boxing industry has to do in order to prevent becoming totally obsolete in comparison to MMA? I have a ton of respect for fighters in both sports but as a long time boxing fan I do not want to see boxing eventually go extinct. Also would you ever consider directing a film dealing with MMA? Jeremy Lorence Edison, NJ

8. Jeremy: I’ve been intrigued with MMA because to have this incredibly ballsy sport emerge when all of our basic male competitive instincts are being evaporated in this politically correct age - it’s a modern day miracle that it exists. I truly admire the sport and the characters it produces. Unfortunately, I think boxing is going to need a major upheaval and a new sense of presentation to survive against MMA. I believe Dana White, who is the most prominent driving force in sports today, is one of the best businessmen in the country. Unfortunately, there is no one like that in boxing at this moment.

9. Hello, Mr. Stallone. Ricardo Pineda here. I'm a journalist from Maracaibo, Venezuela. There has been some early controversies about your new movie in my country, regarding the plot itself. Judging only by the trailers, some politicians and supporters of President Hugo Chavez see "The Expendables" -as a devise of an imperialistic order- to promote and/or incite an invasion in Venezuela to dethrone Chavez himself. No matter how fictionalized your action-packed movie could be, they argue that the same color of berets (worn by the bad guy's army) are way too coincidental to our own red berets (if I used "their" in that last part I could be called a traitor). Therefore, "The Expendables" might be banned in Venezuela or at least there has been talk about it. I did some checking with the distribution companies in my country and no one has scored the rights yet. Hence, there's no release date of your film locally and now with the diplomatic crisis with our neighbor Colombia, chances are it won't have one any time soon... not to say at all. What do you make of all this? Is there something you can express to your loyal fans in Venezuela, eager to watch your movie? Can you salvage this whole confusion so "The Expendables" could see the light of day down here?

9. Ricardo: Firstly, the use of red berets in THE EXPENDABLES was a device used to be able to see the men when we’re fighting at night, so it has nothing to do with a political statement. Secondly, the use of a tropical South American country has nothing to do with Venezuela. It was merely a visual choice because of the jungles and choosing a small fictional country made it believable that a small group of mercenaries could survive. There is by no means a political statement or imperialistic intentions in this film. It’s meant to entertain and nothing more.

10. Thanks for taking the time to chat it up with us fans! I was wondering, were there any stars you wanted and couldn't get? How did you go about casting and writing? Did you pick your actors and write a script around them or did you come up with the script and then go about casting, then altering the story after the fact? I once heard that Inglourious Basterds was supposed to be a men on a mission type film starring a bunch of know hollywood tough guys, which obviously did not turn out to be the case. Did you ever feel any competition with that film? Thanks! Javi Trujillo Austin, TX

10. Javi, No, there is no competition with INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. Quentin has his style and theme, which is wholly original. THE EXPENDABLES stands on its own and is really kind of a throwback to earlier films like THE MAGNIFICIENT SEVEN and THE WILD BUNCH, when men were willing to risk their lives for friendship rather than money. There were several actors that I wanted such as Jimmy Woods, Kurt Russell, Ben Kingsley, Steven Seagal, Van Damme, Forest Whitaker, etc. But the script went through many, many mutations and some actors were just not responsive so the film headed in a different direction, which I’m grateful for. I think things happen for a reason or it’s a wonderful ‘disaster’ that turns out for the best. For example, the first four women chosen for ROCKY were Cher, Bette Midler, Susan Sarandon and Carrie Snodgress, who all passed. This left the door literally open for Talia Shire, who walked in at 8PM just days before filming and secured the part, which in my mind was the most important casting in the film. So sometimes initial failure is good and leads to an unexpected outcome. Best, Sly

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