I think it’s safe to say we were all pretty shocked when Sylvester Stallone revealed that he was replacing Bruce Willis in The Expendables 3 with Harrison Ford. That’s a pretty big casting move, and those of us who follow these things figured there had to be something going on behind the scenes to cause the switch, but I doubt many of us thought it was anything as dramatic as the apparent reality.
Sources close to the production told THR that Willis was offered $3 million to reprise his role as Mr. Church in the third Expendables film (for only four days of shooting), but Willis refused the payment and asked for $4 million instead. Stallone and company declined the counterproposal and Willis walked – only to be instantly replaced by Ford.
This isn’t anything all that unusual – actors leave projects all the time because they can’t come to acceptable terms for their work – but what is fascinating here is the aftermath of the event. The insider told THR that “I think [Willis] was pretty surprised he was replaced in 72 hours by Harrison Ford — a better actor, a much nicer person and a more interesting direction for the film." Ouch.
Willis does have a bit of a reputation for being difficult – from his days on Moonlighting through to his squabbles with Kevin Smith – but it’s hard to argue with the man’s career box office tally. That’s what makes this cryptic tweet from Stallone so intriguing:
While it’s vague enough that it could be about anyone (or just a general observation) the timing sure makes it seem like it’s about Willis (who was partners with Stallone and Schwarzenegger at the launch of Planet Hollywood). If it is, it’s a pretty harsh sentiment coming from a former friend and partner. And again, even if you hate Willis, you can’t exactly call his career a failure.
This does beg the question, though – do these sorts of things influence how you think about an actor? Does Willis’ difficult reputation offscreen affect how you view him on-screen? Can you separate the characters from the actor? Do you really think this Stallone tweet was about Willis? Would you watch a pay-per-view match where they settle their disagreement in the octagon? Weigh in below.