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It was tough to know who was grabbing the most attention at the Expendables 2 world premiere Wednesday in Hollywood: the high-octane action stars or several Olympic gold medalists who stopped by the event.
Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean Claude Van Damme ruled the red carpet, which took over a blocked-off Hollywood Boulevard in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, with crowds screaming for their attention.
But at the after-party, held at Drai’s Nightclub atop the W Hotel down the street, it was swimmer Ryan Lochte, volleyball player Destinee Hooker and a slew of others (some of whom brought their gold medals along) that drew crowds of industry fans.
Lochte, who had shot a scene for The CW’s 90210 earlier that day, hung out with Jason Statham in between waves of admirers.
Water polo players Jessica Steffens and Brenda Villa flashed their medals in the photo booth, posing with agents, execs and even Tom Arnold.
In the end, however, the event was still about the movie’s all-star cast, which was made up mostly of action icons from the 1980s. Director Simon West said the big egos all played nice on set.
“Everybody understands that it’s a second time around for them,” West told THR at the poolside party. “And most people, when they get a second chance, if they are smart, they make the most of it. They remember these movies and being in their prime and to get to do it again, they appreciate it.”
One person who appreciates the new love is Dolph Lundgren, who credited Stallone for launching the franchise possible and for giving him his big breaks in Hollywood.
“He gave me a break in Rocky 4, 25 years ago,” Lundgren said. “And now, he has created this weird engineering guy action character for me. I give him all the credit, especially since I was supposed to die in the first movie.”
As much as some of the guests were in awe of the Olympians, co-star Randy Couture said he was impressed by the physical specimens on display in the movie, particularly from guys like Stallone and Schwarzenegger who have been physical fitness icons for 30 years.
“Those two guys alone inspired more workouts than anybody on the planet,” he said.
Let’s see Lochte top that.