The Expendables is one of the most beloved action-thriller franchises if there was one, and perhaps what makes it such a triumph is its incredible ensemble cast. The film series doesn’t simply consist of Hollywood’s finest like Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis, it comprises actors who are considered to be action legends; from martial artists like Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren to former professional bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger along with sports buff Jason Statham who’s renowned to perform his own stunts.
One particular figure, who was considered for The Expendables 3 but probably wouldn’t have fit in with the rest of the cast, was the now-retired Jack Nicholson.
Sylvester Stallone Wanted Jack Nicholson to Star in The Expendables 3
The Expendables 3, though transpired as a box office disaster, featured some of the most renowned A-listers in the film industry. And it would’ve had a three-time Oscar winner in the mix as well had Jack Nicholson not retired from acting by then.
Sylvester Stallone, who co-wrote the screenplay for the 2014 threequel, originally had his eyes on The Shining‘s iconic actor to portray the film’s villain. “I was going to go [call] up Jack Nicholson and we just got there a little too late, because actually he had said he might be interested in it,” the Rocky star said. Unfortunately for him, however, Nicholson had already bid farewell to Hollywood following his retirement after the 2010 rom-com How Do You Know starring Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd.
Ultimately, the character went to Lethal Weapon star Mel Gibson who depicted Conrad Stonebanks in the Patrick Hughes-helmed movie.
If there’s one role Nicholson has repeatedly delivered in a rather impeccable fashion, it’s that of the antagonist. While Stanley Kubrick’s horror movie is an obvious testament to the deranged, villainous accomplishment of the 86-year-old actor, 1989’s The Batman and Leonardo DiCaprio-led The Departed are also proof of the same. Even so, it was probably for the best that Nicholson didn’t take up the offer because it’s hard to imagine him fitting the quintessential brawny adversary as opposed to the more eerily malicious characters that he has best represented on-screen.
Not to mention, Nicholson probably dodged a bullet because The Expendables 3 flopped horribly at the box office.
The Expendables 3 – A Box Office Catastrophe
While the first and second films were commercial successes, the third movie didn’t fare so well at the box office. As is the case with numerous other trilogies, the third installment in the Expendables franchise ended up being a rather disappointing feat. Not only did it perform poorly at the box office, grossing merely $214.6 million against a budget of roughly $100 million, but it was also deemed a critical failure. Simply put, the threequel turned out to be an indelible blotch in an otherwise spotless franchise.
Meanwhile, the franchise is now gearing up for The Expendables 4 which is due to release in September this year. While old cast members including Stallone, Statham, and Lundgren are all returning for the venture, the film will also be introducing several new faces like Megan Fox, Iko Uwais, and Tony Jaa, to list a few. The movie is directed by Scott Waugh and will be distributed by Lionsgate Films.
The first three movies can be streamed on HBO Max and The Expendables 4 releases on September 22, 2023.