One of the world’s foremost authorities on structural security agrees to take on one last job: breaking out of an ultra-secret, high-tech facility called “The Tomb.” Deceived and wrongly imprisoned, Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) must recruit fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to help devise a daring, nearly impossible plan to escape from the most protected and fortified prison ever built. ‘Escape Plan’ is the first pairing of action legends Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in leading roles, and co-stars Jim Caviezel, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio and Amy Ryan. ‘Escape Plan’ opens on October 18th.
The idea of a movie co-starring you and Arnold Schwarzenegger as equal headliners has been discussed for many years, as far back as the mid-1980s. What was it about this film that lead you to jump on-board?
Sylvester Stallone: It was a page turner. Having read so many scripts you can pretty much see a plot unfolding, and by page 30 you’ve sort of figured it out. By page 30 I didn’t know what was going to happen, and then by the middle of the script I was flabbergasted – I had “I didn’t see that coming” moments, often. As a matter of fact I use that line in the movie, “I should have seen that coming.” For me, ‘Escape Plan’ has what is required of successful films of today, in that the audience is so intelligent, they’ve seen it all. If you don’t give them an unusual pairing…. I think the days of the standalone actor are pretty much over. But I think if you don’t have the proper ensemble it’s just not going to work, no man’s an island anymore. Also, there needs to be a unique setting, it better be different. We’ve see a 1000 prison films, but I’ve never seen one like this. So therefore the audience is going to be exposed to a prison genre that we’ve seen before, but in a sense you haven’t at all. It is totally original and that’s why I wanted to get involved in it. It’s extremely hard to come across something that hasn’t been trod upon, “new snow” with no footprints on it.
I can imagine it was fun working together as co-leads after all these years, and also to finally scrap it out…?
Sylvester Stallone: We had to do that (laughs). We were on a parallel career course during what I would call the gold age of hardcore action films, but this is something new. It is not just guns, flames and bombs. Our characters really have to use their brains to get out. There’s a tremendous amount of action in it, but it is very much a thinking man’s adventure, and it plays into the mature part of our careers.
For Arnold and I not to physically clash in the film, I think that would be a tremendous disappointment (laughs). It seems like I’ve gone through just about every cinematic character, from Mr. T, to Dolph Lundgren, to Apollo Creed, to Hulk Hogan, and hundreds of others…. but this would probably be the last one. I thought Jean-Claude Van Damme was going to be the last one in ‘The Expendables 2,’ but then there was Arnold. We had to give the audience a certain kind of satisfaction to really play into what people have wanted to see for many years. So people are expecting fireworks and they get it (laughs).
What is it about physical roles that attracts you?
Sylvester Stallone: I think I have this crazy gene that just likes to push the envelope in a physical fashion that sometime becomes painful (laughs), but I believe that’s what has worked for me. And when I took the easy route, it’s never worked out. I’ve always said, “If I don’t get injured a few times on a film, it’s bad luck,” (laughs) so the more I get injured, usually the better the film. I took a few hard hits on this film, the batons especially. I had a technicolor back to prove it (laughs). I also injured a tendon in my right foot during a fight scene. I did get battered and bruised on this one (laughs).
What was it about the dynamic between your character and Arnold’s character in ‘Escape Plan’ that you liked?
Sylvester Stallone: For me, my character Breslin is asked to work on this special project, which is quote “off the grid”. And this project is called “The Tomb”. What seems to be a normal job, a routine job, turns into his worst nightmare. “The Tomb” itself, the prison, is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, and obviously unlike anything he’s seen before. It’s absolutely escape proof, and where it’s positioned makes it virtually impossible to get out. He finds out halfway through the film that he has been set up in an impossible situation, and he befriends the character played by Arnold, or vise-versa, they befriend each other. And together they work out a plan that is pretty ingenious on how to get out of this impossible situation.
I’m suspicious of Rottmayer, I don’t like him at all. I don’t like anyone in this setting because I’m put here against my will and I realize I’ve been set up, so there’s a tremendous amount of suspicion. And he, all of sudden, wants to befriend me. And I realize he radiates power because everyone in the prison is afraid of him, so I have to make this choice, of whether I just blow him off and make a substantial enemy, or do I sort of start to play him, because he’s playing me? It’s sort of like a chess game; which happens to be Arnold’s favorite pastime. So we’re playing chess all of the time during this film, in our brains
How was the experience shooting in NASA? Filming this very primal film in the hub of technological and scientific advancement….
Sylvester Stallone: The location is so humongous that I think it might be one of the largest buildings in the United States, and it plays right into a look that is ironic because here we are in the technological epicenter of America, this is space technology, yet you have this primal film. You have these two men fighting for their lives in a very untechnical way. So the contrast of technology and competing bruit force made it feel very unusual. It was amazing to film there, an honor.