By Edward Davis | The Playlist September 6, 2011 at 10:38AM
Update: In a profile of the film as it gears up to start shooting Bulgaria, Company Town confirms that Chuck Norris, John Travolta and Jean Claude Van Damme are also on board for "The Expendables 2."
Alright, forget them rumors of Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme, even if they're correct, "The Expendables 2" just got a much larger dose of action-power star wattage. Yes, both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis had small cameo roles alongside Sylvester Stallone in the original "The Expendables" -- a semi-surprise action hit that grossed $275 million worldwide in 2010. But now, they're apparently taking on much meatier parts.
According to Deadline, both action stars just finalized deals to take “substantial roles" in the action sequel. For Schwarzenegger, this feels like a no-brainer. His movie star comeback was almost instantly derailed when a post-office sex scandal hit earlier this summer (after his divorce from Maria Shriver, it was revealed he’d fathered a love child during an affair with an employee 10 years ago). All of Schwarzenegger's Hollywood projects were put on hold immediately, while his agents and PR reps played damage control.
But what better way for Arnold to return among an ensemble where the film won't be built just on his name. As for Willis, "Die Hard 5" just found its director and therefore is a reality. This tells us studios (20th Century Fox) believe he remains a viable action star, despite all those direct-to-DVD releases of late (but yes, the brand is king these days). Does Willis need this role? We imagine he signed on for a considerable pay day and/or just because he wanted to kick it with the boys.
While Stallone helmed the original film, "Con Air" filmmaker Simon West has directing duties for 'Expendables 2' which starts filming in October. Lionsgate is releasing once again. Returning to the cast is Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke and Terry Crews. Spoiler, one of these men's deaths is rumored to be the spark that triggers the sequel into action; revenge always being a good kickstarter for an action movie. Either way, “The Expendables 2” is slated for release on August 17, 2012.