Sylvester Stallone will return as Barney Ross in The Expendables 4 this fall, and there'd be no greater actor to play the villain than Richard Gere. As we've seen in the previous installments of the series, The Expendables features an ensemble cast of popular action movie stars as the heroes. The movies have also brought in big name actors to play the villains for the titular team of mercenaries to take on.
Richard Gere isn't quite the action movie star as the other actors in The Expendables, but there's long been a real-life feud between the Pretty Woman star and Stallone that could translate well to the screen. It's fairly well known that the two are not big fans of one another, so there would be a certain tension for viewers with that knowledge going in. Any heated scenes that could be featured with Gere and Stallone would also be that much more tense if there's some genuine friction with the actors.
The feud between the Hollywood legends dates back to when both were trying to break through as actors in the 1970s. Originally, Gere was hired to play the lead role of Chico in 1974's The Lords of Flatbush, a role that later went to Perry King. It was later revealed that Gere was fired from the project due to conflicts he'd had with Stallone during rehearsals before filming had begun. In 2006, Stallone elaborated on his side of the story in an interview with Ain't It Cool News.
"We never hit it off. He would strut around in his oversized motorcycle jacket like he was the baddest knight at the round table," Sly recalled. "One day, during an improv, he grabbed me (we were simulating a fight scene) and got a little carried away. I told him in a gentle fashion to lighten up, but he was completely in character and impossible to deal with."
"Then we were rehearsing at Coney Island and it was lunchtime, so we decided to take a break, and the only place that was warm was in the backseat of a Toyota. I was eating a hotdog and he climbs in with a half a chicken covered in mustard with grease nearly dripping out of the aluminum wrapper," added Stallone. "I said, 'That thing is going to drip all over the place.' He said, 'Don't worry about it.' I said, 'If it gets on my pants you're gonna know about it.' He proceeds to bite into the chicken and a small, greasy river of mustard lands on my thigh. I elbowed him in the side of the head and basically pushed him out of the car. The director had to make a choice: one of us had to go, one of us had to stay. Richard was given his walking papers and to this day seriously dislikes me."
Furthermore, Sylvester Stallone speculates that Gere blames him for the infamous gerbil rumor. At one point, the bizarre rumor that Gere had been hospitalized after rectally inserting a rodent into his body had become so well known in pop culture that it was joked about on Saturday Night Live and most every late night talk show. Of the rumor, Stallone noted, "To this day, [he] seriously dislikes me. He even thinks I'm the individual responsible for the gerbil rumor. Not true, but that's the rumor."
Gere has never addressed his feud with Stallone, though he did explain how the rumor led to him ignoring the press. As Gere told Metro UK in 2008: "I stopped reading the press a long time ago. There is an infamous 'Gere stuck a hamster up his bum' urban myth. I expect that sort of thing, but when reputable magazines started making up stories claiming I was in a country I had never been to with someone I didn't even know, I just decided not to pay attention to any of it. It's a waste of energy."
More recently, Elton John told a story in his 2019 autobiography Me that revealed another time when the feud between Gere and Stallone reached a boiling point in an incident involving Princess Diana. In the book, John describes hosting a dinner party with several high profile guests, including both of the famous actors. The "Rocketman" singer also recalls noticing that "Richard Gere and Diana seemed very taken with each other," regaling how that eventually led to a physical skirmish with Stallone.
"As the rest of us chatted, I couldn't help notice a strange atmosphere in the room. Judging by the kind of looks he kept shooting them, Diana and Richard Gere's newly blossoming friendship was not going down well with Sylvester Stallone at all. I think he may have turned up to the party with the express intention of picking Diana up, only to find his plans for the evening ruined."
John says he sent his partner, David Furnish, to go find the two actors when it was time to eat. Furnish returned with a concerned look, telling John that there was "a situation" unfolding. In the book, John notes, "It transpired that he'd discovered Sylvester Stallone and Richard Gere in the corridor, squaring up to each other, apparently about to settle their differences over Diana by having a fistfight."
After the meal, Stallone is said to have "stormed off home" while seething over Gere's presence. According to John, Stallone said, "I never would have come if I'd known Prince f***in' Charming was gonna be here. If I'd wanted her, I would've taken her!" It's impossible to say what really happened on that day, as Stallone would later claim that John's story was a "complete fabrication" when a fan asked him about it on Instagram.
Now, obviously, getting them together in The Expendables 4 could only really work if Gere and Stallone could ultimately put their differences aside. While the two don't exactly need to start exchanging Christmas cards every year, they would need to come together as professionals to collaborate on the project. As both are such fine actors, it's unfortunate that this unpleasantness between the two has persisted over so many years, and this could provide them with an excellent opportunity to bury the hatchet. Though that said, Harrison Ford was in the last sequel, and it doesn't appear that he shot any scenes with the other actors, so Gere and Stallone don't necessarily need to be on set together at any point during filming.
Both Gere and Stallone have been in Hollywood for decades, but they have never starred in a movie together, nor have they even publicly appeared at an event together. The best way to change that would be for Stallone to bring in Gere for The Expendables 4. One probably shouldn't bet the farm on it happening, but it would be amazing. According to Sly himself, The Expendables 4 shoots this fall, so a cast should be announced soon.