If you think you're a badass, meet Randy Couture. Not many dudes can say that they are in the UFC Hall of Fame, and a three-time heavyweight champ, but Couture can. He mixed it up in the UFC octagon for fourteen years, and after mastering mixed martial arts, Couture is looking to tear up the silver screen. His 2010 role in Expendables got him off to a solid start.
Now, after shocking the world by putting every major action film star that you could possibly think of in one film, Stallone and Co. are back with The Expendables 2. Complex got a chance to chop it up with Randy Couture to discuss his role in the sequel which drops today, working with this legendary cast for a second time, and who would come out victorious if the cast were to fight in a tournament.
Interview by David Whitely (@davidwhitely)
How was it working on The Expendables 2?
It was good, it was really good. [The cast] is a great group of guys. In a lot of ways, it just carried over from the first crew. Just gearing up and putting on wardrobe and looking at each other going, “Weren’t we just here?” It was a lot of fun. Bulgaria was a very interesting place to be for three months; there's a lot of history there. The people there treated us pretty good. It wasn’t bad.
Tell us about your role in the second installment.
Well, Toll Road is back. He’s an interesting character like all of the guys on the team, kind of corky and makes sure they’re all doing their jobs because there is always a sort of a dysfunction. Toll Road is a college educated guy who’s always trying to improve himself. He’s constantly reading, trying to sort out his demons. In a lot of ways he’s kind of the glue that keeps the team together; they’re his family, the guys he respects the most. That’s the fun part of this movie. You kind of get to see the characters develop a little bit more, you get to know them a little bit better. You get to see the team poke fun of each other and push each other’s buttons.
How would you say Randy Couture compares to Toll Road?
There’s a ton of similarities. I’m sure I’m not without my own issues and baggage, but I think that’s the cool part about the character. From the monologue in the first movie about my ear and cauliflower from college wrestling, to being a college educated guy in a very rough, combative sport as I have for the last 15 years, it wasn’t too hard for me to find a way to relate to Toll Road, and at the end of the day tell his truths in playing the character.
What was your experience like on the set?
Making a movie is a grind, man. I don’t know where people get the idea that it’s all this glamour and stuff because you’re up early on set everyday waiting around on your moment to actually work and do your scenes. Then you’re in the back waiting for the next set-up, and your day is for like 12 to 14 hours, five to six days a week. So it’s definitely a grind. There’s a psychological component to that in staying focused, ready to go when you have to go. There’s obviously a physical part to that in it's a long, drawn-out process, and when you do get the moments to turn it on, you have to be ready to do that.
How was it working with badasses like Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the other guys for a second time?
Having grown up in the '70s and '80s, those guys were in the action movies that I was dying to go to the theater and see, and now to be in a cast with those guys is kind of surreal. Kind of looking around going “Man, I can’t believe I’m here!” Timing was everything about it. Ten years ago, those guys were competing for box office numbers, and probably wouldn’t have been on the same screen. Now at this stage of their lives, it makes perfect sense for them to come together and be in this movie. It’s a really cool thing, and a fun thing to be a part of.
With all of these legendary badasses in the same room, yourself included, who's the biggest badass of them all?
I think each and every guy brings their thing to this film. Jet Li with his kung fu, Jason Statham with his particular martial arts style and action style, to Sly and Arnold. Each and every guy has their own special flavor. I think that’s a cool part of this movie, like everybody has their moment to shine at some part or another in this movie.
Out of all the cast, who do you think could hold his own in an MMA fight?
Um, the only other guy who has real combat experience would Dolph [Lundgren]. He has competed in boxing and full contact karate for a long, long time. So, I think his chances would be good. He’d probably do pretty well.
Did they use any of your MMA techniques in the film?
Yeah, of course. I think that’s what the fans want to see. They know going in if I’m in the movie, when it comes to close quarters combat, they know that’s my specialty. The stunt coordinators know that, Sly knows that, so they gave me that moment to kind of demonstrate some of that expertise in the fight scenes. Those are the days when it’s a lot of fun for me. From top to bottom, this movie is a lot of fun.
What are some of your favorite fight scenes in action flicks you've seen?
One is from the movie The Raid. Which was an amazing action film. There are some fight scenes in there that were shot in one take that lasted for three and four minutes, which is a long time for a one shot fight scene with no breaks and no cuts. I think some of the stuff they’ve done in the Bourne Identity films have been pretty interesting with the way they shoot that, making you feel like you’re in the middle of the fight. Sometimes it's harder to tell what techniques were used in those scenarios, but it's an interesting way to show the fight scenes, it’s kind of the newer trend in shooting fight scenes.
In the Expendables, we’ve taken that big step back, so you have to do things the old-school way. Doing things without CGI, no wires, no nothing. That’s one of the things that people really appreciate about The Expendables. I had a blast shooting the huge fight scene at the end of Expendables 1 with Steve Austin. I think the Bourne scene where he beats the guy up in Morocco with a book, taking everything that he can to be successful in that altercation. That was a good one. There’s a scene in this movie where Jet Li runs out of bullets and he is in a kitchen setting, and he starts dispatching guys with frying pans. That was pretty cool.
Working with the cast, there had to be a ton of funny moments throughout the course of shooting. Who would you say is the funniest out of the group?
I think the guy who has a surprisingly funny sense of humor, and I think it comes out in the film is Sly. A lot of the corky jabs at each other with the marquee guys like Bruce, Arnold, and Chuck Norris all came from Sly, and that carried down to us as well. But obviously the guy that comes from the comedy background is Terry Crews. Terry has this amazing attitude and unique perspective on everything. I think he is a really, really funny guy.
Switching gears a little bit, with you being a MMA legend, you’re obviously full of knowledge about the sport. What are some of your thoughts on Sonnen—Silva 2?
Um, I was a little surprised by the choice of technique by Chael [Sonnen], which ultimately led to him stumbling and being on the ground with Anderson [Silva], and Anderson capitalizing on that. Nobody but [Sonnen] can explain where that spinning backfist came from, not a technique I’ve ever seen him train or practice. You never know what’s gonna happen in the heat of a mixed martial arts fight, anything could happen.
How do you even get ready to go up against a guy like Silva? The man’s a beast.
Wrestle. You gotta make him wrestle you. I think that’s really the key. You gotta make him wrestle you.
You've had so many classic fights over the years. Are you really done with MMA for good?
Yea, I’m really retired. It was time. I’m pretty comfortable with the decision.
In our latest issue, we have an expendables chart...
[Interrupts] You have an Expendables chart?
Yeah, it's a tournament style breakdown of fights with the cast if you guys were to ever face off against each other and other action stars.
Who do you think would make it to the finals?
It would all come down to the draw and how the brackets are set up, but I think it would come down to me and Dolph in the finals. Again, judged purely on combative sports background and having competed in those full contact events. We’re the only two guys who have that kind of experience.
Who wins the fight?
I’m not sure that Dolph has a real strong ground game, so I think that’s a potential weakness there that I could exploit. I’m pretty sure that I can take him down, and get him on the ground. It’s the area where I’m strongest.