Out on 24 August 2023

The Last Action Heroes

Nick de Semlyen

24 August 2023
352 pages


The behind-the-scenes story of the action heroes who ruled 1980s and 90s Hollywood and the beloved films – from Die Hard to The Terminator – that made them stars.

This wildly entertaining account of the golden age of the action movie charts Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s carnage-packed journey from enmity to friendship against the backdrop of Reagan’s America and the Cold War. Revealing fascinating untold stories of the colourful characters who ascended in their wake – high-kickers Chuck Norris and Jackie Chan, glowering tough guys Dolph Lundgren and Steven Seagal, and quipping troublemakers Jean-Claude Van Damme and Bruce Willis – it chronicles the rise of the invincible action hero who used muscle, martial arts or the perfect weapon to save the day. And how, as the 1990s rolled on, the glory days of these macho men – and the vision of masculinity they celebrated – began to fade.

Drawing on candid interviews with the action stars themselves, plus their collaborators, friends and foes, The Last Action Heroes is a no-holds-barred account of a period in Hollywood history when there were no limits to the heights of fame these men achieved, or to the mayhem they wrought, on-screen and off.

Praise for Nick de Semlyen's Wild and Crazy Guys:

'Pithy and propulsive' - The Times

'I loved it so much!' - Stuart Heritage

'A fabulous romp of a book . . . stuffed full of juicy tid-bits' - The i

'A terrific contribution to the genre' - Hadley Freeman

This book takes you so close to the action, you can smell the sweat, cigar smoke, and bad cologne that brought these movies to life. Along the way, Nick de Semlyen reveals tales of stunts gone wrong, conversations between Stallone and Reagan, the origin of Jean Claude Van Damme’s buns, and all of the stories from set that people were too afraid to tell—until now.
A testosterone-fueled ode to action movies . . . packs a punch.
In his riveting chronicle of the ass-kicking, neck-snapping, biceps-rippling action heroes of the ‘80s and ‘90s, Nick de Semlyen not only paints the story of the movies and stars of the Reagan era, he shines a light on what they meant—and still mean—to us. A juicy, fun as hell read.