"...I was in the area when they put together The Expendables, and Sly knew about that, so he contacted me and said, “Man, please read this and feel free to just tell me what you think about the character and if you wanna change things.” So I took it and read it, and I definitely did some changes. I changed even the name of character. And so, I started sending things that I wrote and he accepted them, and I said, “Okay.” So, that’s how we connected.
What was the original name of the character?
BANDERAS: It was Matador, and I have heard that name so many times, with so many characters that I have been offered. I said, “No. Matador, no. We have to do something different.” So “galgo” means greyhound. It’s a very fast dog. Galgo sounds easy and good in English, so they accepted it. And another thing I said to him is, “Sly, you have to give me the possibility to make some comedy here.” The whole entire project, and how the concept is created, I don’t see it as a very realistic approach to action. We’re not doing the type of thing that is very realistic and goes through certain narrative rules and cinematic rules. This goes in a completely different direction. And he said to me, “You do whatever you wanna do and we will decide it, as we go. If we’re going in the right direction, we’ll talk.” So I took over the character with that idea, and I ended up improvising a lot, which is not easy for me, believe me, ‘cause it’s not my language. But I think that actually adds some comedy, too. So, I am the type of pain in the ass guy who never stops talking and where everyone’s rolling eyes when he arrives, but at the end, he’s tender and has some kind of past story that actually makes him lovable, in some way.
How does he come into the story and end up with these guys?
BANDERAS: He’s a mercenary. He is a guy who has been with a uniform in the Spanish army for a long time, in places of combat like Kosovo and Afghanistan and places like that. But something happened to him, that you will see in the movie, that takes him out of that. And so, he becomes a solitary man. Knowing the existence of the expendables, he’s trying to approach them, by any means, but he never got the possibility."
How did you prepare for this role? Did you have to do anything special for this kind of project?
BANDERAS: You have to be in good shape, basically. And then, you have to have a certain craziness, if you’re going to do some of the action things. I did something that I shouldn’t have done. I’m in my 60s now, and just running almost 50 meters with explosives going on, it was kind of like, “Oh, my god! What am I doing here?” The whole entire building was shaking, and stuff like that. But, you do it. At the same time, I just wanna do it if I have the possibility of laughing a little bit at myself. In this particular concept of a movie, if I were doing something that can be catalogued as action, but is more serious and based on real events, I probably would approach it in a completely different way. But in this particular case, I asked Sly, who is the creator of this saga, and he said, “Yes, go there. Let’s see what happens, and we’ll just model it.” I think at some point, he was a little bit scared of how far I was going with the comedy. But I saw him at an after party, the night before the Oscars, and he said, “I have to confess, I thought you could become crazy when you were working there, but now that I have seen the result, it’s pretty good.” So I said, “All right, good. You’re not gonna kill me?” He said, “No, I’m not gonna kill you, man.” That was my bet. That’s what I asked him for, and he gave it to me. I had a tremendous amount of freedom to do it, which is not normal and doesn’t happen. I never had that when I was doing Zorro. It was more strict with the script and the idea we had. And it was the same with Desperado, and all of the action movies that I have done in my career. But in this particular case, they allowed me to rewrite a lot of stuff and they practically approved of everything I brought.
What weapons did you get to use in this? Are there weapons that are specific to your character?
BANDERAS: Well, he didn’t stop talking. It’s impossible. He’s a headache. Every time he arrives, it’s a weapon of destruction of words. And practically everything was improvised. These guys are traveling for seven hours in a plane, and he doesn’t stop for a second. These guys are trying to sleep. But at the end, you discover that there is a pain hidden somewhere in this guy and everything that he’s doing is almost like a shield to protect himself.
What was it like to work with Patrick Hughes as your director, on set and during pre-production?
BANDERAS: I wouldn’t like to be him. It’s not an easy thing to have so many stars on set. But, he seemed to be managing beautifully. He has a great sense of humor, and he’s open to receiving ideas. He established a great relationship with the creator, who is Sly Stallone, which was fundamental. If you don’t understand each other, he would have been having a lot of trouble. But they seemed to understand each other, perfectly. They were planning everything, and he was open, even to tell Sly sometimes, “You have to do this.” I like that. And I think that’s what Sly is looking for, too. He needs somebody who actually brings him some objectivity about what he’s doing, and I think he did it very well."
It sounds like he really pushed the comedy angle of the movie, let us know what you think about that in the comments.
And lastly here's a cool video of the stunt team 87Eleven acting out the Stallone vs Stone Cold fight scene from the first Expendables movie!