Randy Couture plans to spend plenty of retirement time on the big screen. | Photo: Garrett Poe
UFC hall of famer Randy Couture spoke with Sherdog.com just after the release of his new film, “Setup.” Also starring Bruce Willis, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Ryan Phillippe, the film was distributed Sept. 20 on DVD and Blu-Ray and is currently available for purchase at Amazon.com and LionsGateShop.com.
In addition to discussing his most recent acting endeavor, the five-time UFC champion talked about his life outside the world of MMA, elaborated on future film projects and discussed the urge to compete again.
Sherdog: Randy, thank you for joining us. Your new film, “Setup,” is a heist film about a group of friends until a betrayal takes things in a different direction. What can we look forward to in the film and where do you fit in with your role?
Couture: I play sort of the head thug in this movie (laughs). Petey is kind of the boss’ right-hand man. He gets sent out to take care of things, to clean things up, to make sure people do what they are supposed to do. Petey is kind of a brash knucklehead in a lot of ways, and it was fun for me to play the character. It was a small role, but to get the chance to play with 50 Cent and Bruce Willis and Ryan Phillippe was fun. I also think everybody is going to get a kick out of the way Petey goes out, so I’m looking forward to seeing the reaction to that whole thing.
Sherdog: So your character meets his demise in the film?
Couture: Absolutely. Petey meets his demise in a rather unique way, and it’s pretty funny.
Sherdog: Interesting. Now, you were also in “The Expendables” with Bruce Willis, but you two did not share any screen time. Did you get to meet Bruce during the shooting of “The Expendables” or was it during your time shooting “Setup” that you actually met him?
Couture: I got to meet Bruce at Comic-Con during the promotion for “The Expendables,” and he was a really, really nice guy. So then the opportunity came up sometime later to actually play in “Setup” with him and to actually get to hang out and get to know him a little bit, which was cool. It’s like with [Sylvester Stallone]. He’s one of those guys you grew up watching with the “Die Hard” movies and all the way back to “Moonlighting” on TV. It was definitely one of those pinch-me moments.
Sherdog: Before we get too deep into “The Expendables,” I wanted to touch on something quickly. I think most people are expecting you to appear in action-oriented films because of your background, but you are also in a movie called “Geezers!” that is coming out in January, which is a comedy with Kevin Pollack and Tim Allen. What was it like being in a comedy?
Couture: It was fun, but it wasn’t a huge stretch. I play myself in the movie, but the setting was certainly unique and everything that happened was a lot of fun. And [J.K. Simmons] was fun to work with, and his wife, [Michelle Schumacher], directed. It was kind of a seminar setting, which is something I’m familiar with, since I do a lot of seminars in MMA. I don’t want to give too much away, but I think people will like my small part.
Sherdog: “The Expendables 2” is expected to come out next summer. Have you started shooting that yet?
Couture: Getting ready to leave for Bulgaria. That’s where it looks like we’ll be shooting the bulk of the movie. It looks like we’ll start shooting on Oct. 1, so I’ll leave Saturday to do my week of prep work and fittings. I’m very excited about this script and the group of guys they’ve put together. Just about everybody is back for “Expendables 2,” which is remarkable. Simon West is going to be directing this time, and he’s a tremendous action director. It’s going to be a blast.
Sherdog: It was cool to see that group of guys on screen at the same time -- like you said, guys who many of us grew up watching. And now it seems even more names are attached to the project. Are we really going to see Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris, plus pretty much everybody else coming back?
Couture: It looks that way, yeah. It looks like those guys and even some others are going to be in this one. And we’re looking at bigger [parts] for Bruce and for Arnold [Schwarzenegger].
Sherdog.com: As we mentioned, you have been on set with guys like Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham and Jet Li, and they all have some type of combat training. As I recall, Stallone has stated that you were definitely the “baddest” guy on set, which is to be expected as a five-time UFC champion. I thought it would be fun for you to answer that from your perspective. Which guy on “The Expendables” crew could handle himself for real if need be?
Couture: I think all the guys are athletic and have the ability to take care of themselves in just about any situation. But I think of all the guys in the cast, probably the guy who is closest to being ready to step into the cage and fight is Dolph. He’s a huge guy, first of all, and he’s been involved in martial arts for a long, long time. He’s done the sparring, and he’s still training at a very high level. He brings a trainer with him who is a wrestler and an MMA guy. So of all the guys, I’d say Dolph is probably the one who would acquit himself very well in the cage.
Sherdog: Talking about acting as opposed to fighting -- obviously, competing in mixed martial arts is a high-adrenaline, exciting job. However, after a while, that aspect seems to wear off to a degree in a lot of guys, and it becomes more of a regular job. Now that you have a few films under your belt, have you hit that feeling with your acting career or is it still novel and exciting for you?
Couture: It’s still new. I think each and every opportunity brings a new character, and [audiences] have to find a way to relate to that character. In some ways, you have to find a way to tell the truth (laughs). Inside, you find a way to relate to the things that character does and says. That’s one of the fun things about acting. You get to play these guys who do things that you would never do in real life. I’m enjoying the process, and I’m getting to work with a lot of top-notch guys. One of the directors I worked with on [the CBS television series] “The Unit” was talking to me about respecting the process. When you’re bored, sitting around waiting for the next shot, you have to keep in mind that there is a process involved here, and you have to respect the process. That’s something that has stuck with me, when I start to question what the heck is going on or why I have to do it this way or that way. You have to respect the process, and everything that it takes to get it out on film, to get it on that screen so that it looks right.
Sherdog: There is so much that goes into shooting even short, simple scenes because so many things are happening at the same time, right?
Couture: Yeah, it’s remarkable. Everybody thinks it’s all glamor and glitz (laughs). It’s the furthest thing from that for most of it.
Sherdog: Now that you have had some time away from the cage and you are into your new career full-time, do you miss competing at all or the process of getting ready for a fight?
Couture: Well, I miss the training. I think life becomes pretty simple when I have a fight staring me in the face, and I’m in that 10-week training camp where I eat, sleep and train, mostly. I think I’ll always miss that part of it. Another big thing for me with fighting was that it was an excuse for all my buddies from all the different stages of my life to show up and come to the fights. I would get to see a bunch of people that I don’t get to see very often. I think I’ll miss that. I get the errant email from one of those guys every once in a while, but it used to be that fight week was like going home. All those guys turned up to watch the fights and come see training. And then [at] the after-party, I’d get to rub elbows with guys from high school, college, my time in the service -- all those different times in my life. I do still have the [Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts] training center and the team, so I still get to be around it and get the flavor of it, but I haven’t been to a lot of fights since I retired. So I haven’t had to fight that itch to get back in there. That hasn’t really happened, and I’ve been pretty comfortable with the decision. I think it was the right decision for me, and, so, I’m really focused on trying to get better and better acting jobs.
Sherdog.com: Thanks for taking the time, Randy. Is there anything else you would like to say about the movie before you take off?
Couture: I hope everybody checks out “Setup.” It’s a lot of fun. The guys involved are great guys, and I think [fans] are going to enjoy the film. And they’re definitely going to want to check out Petey’s demise (laughs).