Interview: Director Scott Waugh Talks The Expend4bles
Scott Waugh has been working in the action movie industry for many years not only as a stunt coordinator but also as a director and producer. He helmed the videogame adaptation Need for Speed and recently directed Hidden Strike starring Jackie Chan and John Cena.
This week sees the release of the highly anticipated fourth entry in the Expendables franchise which Scott directed. He stopped by to talk with us about the film.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today.
I’m really looking forward to seeing Expendables 4; tickets are booked for Friday night, and I’m going to go see it with my dad. I’ve seen all of the Expendables movies with my dad. Today is his 82nd birthday, so we’ll be seeing The Expendables 4 to celebrate.
Man, so that’s awesome.
What was it that made you want to sign on to direct this one?
I think in life before you die, hopefully you get to check a couple of boxes to be satisfied with and for myself, I’ve been wanting to work with Sly for a while, and we’ve tried in the past and never had our stars align. When they asked me to come over and direct the franchise, I was honestly humbled and thrilled, I was like, man to come and direct these cats in the same movie. That’d be fantastic. So, I’ve been super thrilled ever since.
When dealing with such a huge cast, was it daunting at all? Or were you just head down and get on with it?
Before this, I remember, I was a stuntman. I had been around all of these actors my whole life at some capacity, either doubling them or around them. And so honestly, it’s like growing up being on a movie set my whole life. It’s just kind of the world I play in. To be around a bunch of actors, it was nothing new for me and but still super enjoyable to be around that level of talent.
This movie is adding some new blood to the cast. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Yeah, we want it to be inherent to the brand; the movie stays on message. I’m a huge fan of the franchise. I’m a real big fan of the very first movie Expendables 1 that Sly directed and really wanted to go back to that style for the film, and stay in our box. But obviously, the script had new blood coming in that they needed. We just really wanted to bring in some big action heroes in their own right and Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais and these types really, really bring some excitement to the franchise and a lot of fun. Their charisma in itself is I mean, both of those guys are great. We have some newcomers too like Jacob Skipio and Levy Tran that are wonderful additions. Then of course, you’ve got Megan Fox coming in and she’s a badass in her own right. People don’t realize that when she’s physically talented, she can kick some ass and she looks great doing it. She holds her own with all the guys, so I was impressed.
Talk us through creating some of the fight scenes for each of the actors different fighting styles.
I did a movie before this with Jackie Chan (Hidden Strike), so I was really focused on the fights on this movie. I came to Statham and I said, “Hey, how about we bring in Jackie Chan’s fight team for this film and really try to elevate these fights and get more creative with them?” Jason was thrilled about that. So, I discussed it with Alan, who was the head stunt coordinator from Jackie’s team, and we really looked at each character’s physical attributes and their particular styles and designed fights always around that. So, it was fun because Alan did a terrific job in the movie and the fights are super fun in this one, and very creative. Then you have the quintessential moment where you get Jason Statham getting fighting Iko Uwais, so you’ve got two badasses that are kind of the climax of the movie.
Every good action movie needs a great bar flight which this movie has. Can you talk us through putting that together?
Yeah, the beauty of that bar fight is it was kind of a throwback to the original one; we wanted to go back to Expendables 1 and the bar fight with Jason and his character Christmas with his efficiency and his brutality and using the old brass knuckles, so we went back old school in the bar fight and brought it back to a traditional bar fight, so I think you guys will enjoy it.
How has Barney and Christmas’s relationship changed since the last movie?
I think it picks up naturally their relationship right after and honestly continues on and I think (without giving any spoiler alerts) there’s a natural pass off that happens in the film that really puts Christmas out in the front. It’s really Christmas’s revenge and redemption story. I think the two guys are really always at the forefront of the franchise. I think those two together are extremely entertaining. That’s all I can say, like, I would be behind the camera and watch these two do the dialogue, and I forget to yell cut because I’d be laughing my ass off (laughs) because these two are funny together.
Do they do a lot of improvised dialogue?
When it comes to the comedy now, improvisation is huge and Sly is probably one of the wittiest men I’ve worked with. He is constantly rewriting and coming up with jokes. Even with Jason we were always reworking the dialogue to find those one liners and zingers to make the audience have that big smile moment, and there’s plenty in this one.
How did you work with composer Guillaume Roussel to creating the right musical sound for the film?
We wanted to freshen the music in this movie without overpowering it. So, we brought in Guillaume to try to give us a little bit more contemporary feel. The franchise started in 2010; we’re talking 12 or 13 years ago, so we wanted to elevate it and make it fresh and new, so we hired Guillaume to really, kind of give us something a little bit more current of what’s going on right now.
There are some fantastic action movies being made right now from filmmakers coming from a stunt background. Do you think that helps make for better action movies?
I think that the great thing about being a former stuntman is you’ve been a part of a world where you have seen it through your lens, through your eyes. Most people that haven’t been fortunate to do it, they’re always looking at it from a third person perspective. As a stuntman, you want the audience to see it, how you see it. So, I think why action movies now today are feeling fresher and more unique and more exciting is we’re still doing some of the same stuff but we’re now showing it in a different way. I think for us, for the audience, it feels better. It feels more exciting. But it’s really because we’ve been a part of that world for our whole lives and now we want you to see it, how we see it.
What would you like audiences to take away from the film?
I hope they leave going “Man, that was fun”. Because at the end of the day, our world is dark and dire enough. I don’t think you should pay money to go somewhere to be dark and dire. I think when you go to the cinema to see Expendables, you get to go, “Dude, I just had fun for the last two hours. That was worth it”.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat; I’m really looking forward to seeing the movie and best of luck with it.