How does a person get to be on a first-name basis with Sly Stallone? In Randy Couture’s case, he was such a baddasador (an MMA champ with acting chops) that Sly cast him in “The Expendibles.”
“I met him a couple of times outside of the movies. Obviously, he’s a fight fan,” Couture told me. “But when he asked me if I wanted to be part of the ensemble cast, I was like, ‘Are you kidding?’ It was a huge opportunity for me. In some ways, it changed the landscape for me moving forward, getting doors opened and being taken seriously as an actor.”
Actually, Couture has been climbing the movie chain for a while, having filmed roles in 23 movies over 11 years.
This August, he co-stars in “Expendables 3,” with Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas and Wesley Snipes.
For the first two “Expendables,” Couture, 50, was somehow one of the younger stars, but that’s over.
“In ‘Expendables 3,’ we bring in a whole new crew of young Expendables: Victor Ortiz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell and Kellan Lutz,” he said. “You’re gonna dig the dichotomy of us older guys versus the younger crew.”
Because he brought up Rousey, I told him I immensely enjoyed talking with her once, and I didn’t totally understand recent backlashes against her.
“She’s not doing herself a lot of favors with some of the interviews and the antics,” he said.
But he defended her.
“The average fan base has trouble separating what they see there from the real person you or I get a chance to talk to. That line gets a little blurred from a fan’s perspective,” he said.
Couture was an early proponent of women MMA fighters, having trained one of the first marquee female fighters, Gina Carano. He wants to see more women mix it up.
“There are some great athletes out there in the women’s division (like) Jessica Aguilar,” he said. “We just need more.”
Couture keeps mixing his love of country music with charity.
On Friday, Couture, Sunset Station Amphitheater and KCYE-FM (102.7) “The Coyote” present “Coyote Under the Stars &Stripes” with Gary Allan, Darryl Worley and other singers.
The show will raise money for Couture’s Xtreme G.I. Foundation, which helps U.S. military families. Heading a charity is a fulfilling use of time and energy, he said.
“You only need to meet one or two of these soldiers, and write one of those checks to one of those families, and it’s all worth it.”
But he credits everyone else for making Friday’s benefit happen: the hotel, the radio station, staffers at his gym, Xtreme Couture.
“I don’t think this would have had this amazing group of stars performing if it wasn’t for those people doing what they’ve done.”
Couture also has a new Spike TV show coming out in August called “Gym Rescue,” in the vein of “Bar Rescue.”
And despite Hollywood success, Couture still calls Vegas home. His mobile phone remains a 702. For fun, he likes to see movies and eat at Town Square, the District and Red Rock Resort. He hangs at a little restaurant called Off the Strip on Southern Highlands Parkway.
“When they opened up (Off the Strip), they didn’t even have dishes. They served on Styrofoam plates. But the food was so amazing, you couldn’t believe you were eating it off of a Styrofoam plate,” he said.
And he mountain bikes outside of Blue Diamond, and hikes the strenuous terrain of Turtlehead Peak.
“If the average person that comes to Vegas assumes Vegas is all about the Strip, if they went to Red Rock just one time, it would completely change their perception,” he said.
“Even at Lake Mead, you can rent a Jet Ski or a boat, and go out and find some sand, and lay around in the water,” he said. “It’s pretty cool to be on a lake where you can ride an hour in one direction and never see the same thing twice.”
Doug Elfman’s column appears on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/entertainment/reel.