American tough guys to invade Bulgaria / Nu Image Films

Bulgaria has withstood many challenges in its turbulent history: foreign domination, two world wars, decades of communist rule.

But this month it may be facing its greatest challenge yet: an invasion of American film stars.

Shooting is scheduled to begin Sept. 19 on The Expendables 2, the latest production of Nu Boyana Film Studios in Sofia. And the cast is truly fearsome: Sylvester Stallone, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, John Travolta, John-Claude Van Damme and, perhaps most dangerous of all, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

To be sure, this is not the first time Nu Boyana has grappled with Hollywood types. Last year Conan the Barbarian even paid a visit. Chief executive David Varod told the Los Angeles Times that labor costs for the non-union film crews are 40% cheaper than in the Czech Republic or Hungary and up to 80% cheaper than in the U.S. Still, it’s not clear whether Sofia is prepared for such an extra-large dose of testosterone.

We’ll let you know if we bump into anyone famous in Sofia’s cafes. In the meantime, out of an abundance of caution, we’re going to let the former California governor have the last word: “Hasta la vista, baby.”


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