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'The Expendables': Should there be an age limit on action stars?

August 21, 2013|By David Horsey
  • Stallone and Schwarzenegger are back in action, but should there be an age limit for action heroes?
Stallone and Schwarzenegger are back in action, but should there be an age… (David Horsey / Los Angeles…)

The news that Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger will be starring in a third “Expendables” movie raises a question: Should there be an age limit for action heroes?

Obviously, plenty of actors have had long, distinguished careers. Paul Newman, the young stud in “Hud” and “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof,” stayed at it long enough to win a Golden Globe at 80 years old for his work in HBO’s “Empire Falls.” The legendary Sir Laurence Olivier had a six-decade career on stage and screen. In 1947, he was the youngest British actor ever to be knighted. Forty-one years later, he played his last film role, a year before his death at 82.

Newman and Olivier were able to stay in the game because they were brilliant actors who could gracefully take on more age-appropriate roles as the years went by. But what if you are an actor of more limited range who has learned to do one thing well – play an action hero? Do you have the same options?

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The option Schwarzenegger famously took was to go into politics. But, now that his run as governor of California is over, he is back doing the action thing. Stallone, who proved he could act pretty well back in his “Rocky” days, steered onto the action-picture track and has not veered out of it. Now, they are together in Bulgaria filming “The Expendables 3.”

The big appeal of the “Expendables” movies is that they bring together an ensemble cast of action all-stars. Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris had key roles in the earlier films in the series. Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford have joined the crew for the third movie. Others who have been, or will be, on the “Expendables” team include Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas and Mickey Rourke.

A couple of these guys are in their action prime; a few others are doing the movie as a change of pace in their varied careers. The rest, like Stallone, age 67, and Schwarzenegger, 66, are simply veterans of the genre out to prove that 60 is the new 40. Their performances may or may not convince the 17-year-old guys in the audience, but there are plenty of male Baby Boomers with sagging guts and bifocals who will be staring at the screen and cheering them on.


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