The Expendables 3: Ronda Rousey on Stallone’s Words of Wisdom

UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey could probably destroy me. I don’t doubt that she could kick my ass, but I suspect after seeing her in The Expendables 3 that she could easily annihilate my entire body in a mass of pulpy flesh and bone fragments. Fortunately, she’s a delightful person to talk to, full of stories about her first acting experiences and that time she punched Expendables 3 director Patrick Hughes so hard he swears she broke a rib. (An accusation she flatly denies; well, the “broken rib” part, the punch was very real.)

We also spoke about the habit she had to break in order to act in The Expendables 3, and the acting advice her mentor Sylvester Stallone gave her on the set that also works just as well in the ring. (The Expendables 3 opens on August 12, 2014.)

Related: The Expendables 3 Review: The Best of the Best of the Best


CraveOnline: So you’re in a movie, and that’s cool.

Ronda Rousey: Yeah! Yeah, it is pretty cool.


That’s the height of the questions that I like to ask.



Was this the first bit of acting that you’d ever done, or had you pretended to be things before? 

I had actually done stunt work before. I was doing stunt work, picking up odd jobs when I was coming up in MMA and I just needed to get some money. Yeah, this was the first real acting that ever stumbled across my path. I really hit the ground running.


This was a good start. What stunt work had you done? Movies? TV?

I did some short films. I did some “CSI” and stuff like that.


Every time I hear about someone being on “CSI” I picture them playing a corpse, so I picture you as a stunt corpse. “We need to throw a corpse out the window. Get Ronda!”

[Laughs.] No, it was like some 9/11 flashback one where I was running down the street and getting stuff blown at me and picking up people that were falling, and running and “Run!” Stuff like that. Running and getting hit with debris was mostly what I was doing on “CSI.”


And here you get to kick the living shit out of people, which must have been fun.

Yeah! You know, I get to lean on some of my strengths for this role. [Laughs.]


Was there anything that was completely outside of your wheelhouse? Like, “You need to wear glasses.” “I don’t know how to do that.”

No, not at all. I think actually the glasses were my idea. No, was there anything completely out…? I think there the days that I had to actually just do dialogue. It was completely new for me and so that was a little bit nerve-wracking. But I pride myself as someone who functions very well under pressure.


You did well! 

Thank you.


I thought you were great in this. Did you get an acting coach, or did someone give you particularly good advice while you were new to it? 

Yeah, I had an acting coach that helped me, and Sly was extremely helpful. He really played a mentor role for me during this whole process.


How does that work, when Sly is your mentor? What does that entail?

Well, he gave me a lot of great advice.


Such as?

Well, he told me to never be embarrassed. For the first take to always go over the top, so you get all that embarrassment out of the way. It’s so much easier to tone it down than for you to rev it back up. So I’m like, okay, I’m just going to go totally over the top and make a fool out of myself in the first one, and then it’s like, now you’ve got that out of your system, just try to find the happy medium that they want. That was my favorite words of advice that he gave me.


That’s good advice.

Yeah, because it’s easy to feel self-conscious when doing something completely unfamiliar to you. It’s kind of reminded me of the first time I went to a boxing gym and they told me to shadow box, and I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. I was just throwing my hands and going, “Do I look like an idiot?” And as soon as I stopped caring about whether I looked like an idiot then I started to enjoy it. So he helped me shake that feeling of idiocy.


That can only help, because they threw you into the deep end with this. What was your first scene? Who were you acting with?

It was me and Sly in my first scene. My first dialogue scene was not an action scene, and that was what I really lean on. I can punch, punch people and run around, shoot a gun and say something cool. But no, it was just straight dialogue between me and Sly. There were a couple things that I had to shake… habits like, I’ve been going with a bad knee for a long time, so I have this habit of shifting my weight. I guess if I was nervous I would shift my weight, I would rock back and forth. I would rock and it got to the point where Patrick [Hughes] had to come over and stand next to me and grab me by the elbow every time I would try, I [would] start to shift weight from leg to the other, just to break me of that habit.

I just thought of something else I had to do. Patrick would say, “What do you have to do before a fight?” My Australian accent is terrible…


I knew what you were doing, so that’s pretty good.

So I was like, “I don’t know, I hit pads with my coach.” And was like, “Here, you’re going to hit something, hit me!” So I’m like, “Alright.” He let me hit him in the stomach, except he wasn’t really expecting it. I didn’t swing it but I put a little touch at the end…


That’s how Houdini died, he let someone punch him and they punched him wrong…

I think that’s an urban legend.


That’s an urban legend?

Yeah. And [Patrick]’s like, “I think you broke a rib!” And I’m like, “No I didn’t. I didn’t hit anything hard!” [Laughs.]


You know what breaking a rib feels like. You knew exactly what you were doing.

Yeah, Patrick took one for the team and after that, I’d kind of laugh and get it out of my system and handle it.


Are you doing sequels to this? Have they talked to you about that? Because I feel like you need to be in movies more. 

Yeah! I mean I would definitely love to. I hope to make a sequel of Expendables just so… I mean, even if I just have an excuse to hang out with everybody again. [Laughs.]


Aren’t they doing an official female spin-off of The Expendables? Have they talked to you about that?

I don’t know.


That’s some crap. You need to get on them for it.


William Bibbiani is the editor of CraveOnline’s Film Channel and the host of The B-Movies Podcast and The Blue Movies Podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.