Despite being asked many times, Jackie Chan never appeared in The Expendables movies. Chan was one of numerous action icons that Sylvester Stallone tried to recruit when putting together the cast for his Expendables movies. Assembling a large ensemble of popular action heroes is one of Stallone’s biggest goals each time he makes a movie in the franchise, and seeing so many legends together is one of the reasons they’ve proven so popular.
The core cast includes Stallone himself, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Terry Crews, and Randy Couture. After a brief cameo in the first film, Arnold Schwarzenegger came back for more significant appearances in The Expendables 2 and The Expendables 3. Other notable actors who have made shown up in the trilogy include Chuck Norris, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Bruce Willis.
Usually, Stallone has a wishlist of actors in mind for each Expendables movie, but he isn’t always able to get everyone on board. Among that list is Jackie Chan, but it’s not for a lack of trying. According to Chan, he was offered a role in The Expendables 2 but didn’t accept because of scheduling conflicts with his movie, CZ12. Later, Chan initially agreed to appear in The Expendables 3 if he could get a larger part in the story, but ultimately backed out.
When a potential fourth installment was being discussed, Jackie Chan shed light on why he didn’t appear in the previous two sequels. He said that when he and Stallone talked about his potential roles, he explained what he envisioned of them making a movie together. The action legend claims he said to Stallone, “Sly, why don’t we just do you and me?” because he knew that being in an Expendables movie meant sharing screentime with several other actors. Chan seemed open to being in The Expendables 4, but again, he didn’t want to be around for just “five minutes”.
The Expendables 4 still hasn’t happened yet, and given Chan’s conditions, it sounds like it may not have worked out anyway. Interestingly, the Expendables trilogy wasn’t the first time a Stallone – Chan collaboration didn’t come to fruition. Chan could have starred opposite Stallone in Demolition Man but turned down the invitation due to his trepidation at playing a bad guy. More recently, Chan and Stallone planned on teaming for Ex-Baghdad, a Chinese action movie. However, this time it was Stallone who dropped out; the movie has since been retitled X-Traction, with his planned role recast with John Cena.