‘Greedy and lazy’… all-too-Expendable Bruce Willis feels the wrath of Sylvester Stallone as he's replaced by Harrison Ford in Expendables 3

Harrison Ford waiting in the wings as ‘Die Hard’ star turns down role in action sequel

They are action hero veterans and business partners, who once joined forces to flog burgers through their Planet Hollywood chain.

But now Sylvester Stallone has branded his fellow ageing movie star Bruce Willis “lazy” and a “failure”, after the Die Hard actor departed from the lucrative Expendables franchise.

Willis had been in negotiations to reprise his role as CIA agent Mr Church in the third instalment of The Expendables, Stallone’s all-star throwback to the 80s action-movies with which the Rambo star once dominated the box office.

However Stallone, 67, announced via Twitter, with some glee, that Willis, 58, would now not be returning. “'WILLIS OUT... HARRISON FORD IN !!!! GREAT NEWS !!!!! Been waiting years for this!!!!,” he wrote.

Stallone appeared to twist the knife by telling the world that his former screen partner in the first two Expendables was indeed, expendable. “GREEDY AND LAZY ...... A SURE FORMULA FOR CAREER FAILURE,” he tweeted, moments later.

A spokesman for Mr Stallone, who co-wrote and directed the first outing of The Expendables in 2010, confirmed the actor had been talking about his old colleague but refused to comment further. Willis has yet to respond.

Relations have soured between Stallone and Willis since the pair, along with fellow action star Arnold Schwarzenegger, launched the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain in 1991.

Willis is walking away from a franchise which has taken a combined $574m at the global box office.

But Willis, who blamed a grouchy recent appearance on the BBC’s One Show on “jetlag”, may not have forgiven Stallone after it became apparent that he was only the third choice for the role of Church, who hires the film’s eponymous band of muscle-bound mercenaries, led by Stallone’s Barney Ross, to carry out dangerous missions.

'Greedy and Lazy': Bruce Willis (Getty) 'Greedy and Lazy': Bruce Willis (Getty)

Arnold Schwarzenegger was initially offered Mr Church but upgraded instead to fellow mercenary leader Trench.  Kurt Russell then turned it down before Stallone, seeking a “big action name” remembered his old pal Willis, who accepted after being granted a scene alongside both Stallone and Schwarzenegger.

Stallone, who co-wrote and directed The Expendables, has argued that 1980s-era heroics were dire need of resuscitation, having been sidelined for years by 'comic-book movies' Stallone, who co-wrote and directed The Expendables, has argued that 1980s-era heroics were dire need of resuscitation, having been sidelined for years by 'comic-book movies'

It is not known whether Ford will take over the role of Mr Church or be given a new character. At 71, Ford remains as busy as ever and is also due to star in forthcoming films Anchorman: The Legend Continues, Star Wars: Episode VII and Indiana Jones 5.

Production on The Expendables 3 is set to begin this month for a 2014 release. The film is expected to feature Jackie Chan, Wesley Snipes and Nicholas Cage, with Mel Gibson also tipped for a role. The series has previously featured 80s survivors including Mickey Rourke and Dolph Lundgren.

Harrison Ford in his most familiar all-action role, in 'Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom' Harrison Ford in his most all-action familiar role, in 'Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom'

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