Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! Special - Interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger

By Derek Winnert 02.02.2013 1

It's the press junket in London for The Last Stand. Everyone is in the Abraham Lincoln Room at the Savoy Hotel in The Strand. No sign of old Abe, but, with stucco walls and ceilings, a thick, plush carpet and flunkies everywhere,  it looks as though he might have stayed there and dined finely in this very room. The usually noisy and opinionated assembled hacks hush suddenly. Royalty has arrived. Hollywood royalty. After the review of The Last Stand, join Lights, Camera, Action! for this closer look at the lead star, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
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Progressing into the room with a regal smile and a couple of his co-stars (Johnny Knoxville and Jaimie Alexander), Arnold Schwarzenegger sits himself down at the table purring like a Cheshire cat. He's very pleased with himself, and rightly so. After 10 years away from enjoying a star role in the movies, all that time ago since Terminator 3, he's back with The Last Stand as a semi-retired Deep South small town sheriff who has to assemble a rag-tag crew to stop an narcissistic drugs cartel bad guy from getting through his territory and across the border into Mexico and freedom.

He says his friend Sylvester 'Sly' Stallone's responsible; that was back in 2010. Sly signed him up for a couple of guest spots in his The Expendables movies and that made Arnie hungry to work on the big screen again. "The Expendables broke the ice for me. They were a good icebreaker. Working on them was fun and I kinda got back into it again," he says.

Arnie was uncredited as Trench in his brief bit in the first movie but in last year's The Expendables 2 both Bruce Willis and he had a bit more to do; a modicum of action and a few funny lines. Therefore, Arnie decided to take the plunge with a movie of his own. "I was looking for a typical Arnold action movie," he comments. Then he was shown Andrew Knauer's screenplay and it exactly fitted the bill. "I play someone a bit more vulnerable than I did in the past and I like that." He liked the story too; "It's a new look at action movies," he declares proudly.


 

Then, as the producer, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, started to put the cast and crew together "I got more and more excited. Johnny Knoxville is a great addition to the cast." As befits the ex- star of Jackass, Knoxville messes around in the knockabout comedy relief role as the local arms freak Lewis Dinkum, who is deputised by Arnold just because he's got all the weapons that the good guys need. Knoxville puts on his best goofy look, daft iron helmet and huge tin shield and does an amazing stunt shinning up a phone cable pole that he's just chainsawed at the base, falling from the top onto a vehicle way below. Impressive though this is, and funny though Knoxville is, there's no question that he doesn't upstage the star, who gets his best results these days by doing less. Shorter bursts of running and more bursts of huge guns is the rule for Arnie nowadays, but to be fair he still does a lot of action and stunts, and has an impressive big one-on-one fight with the villain (Eduardo Noriega) at the final standoff, straining every vein and muscle in his body.

Arnie denies that The Last Stand is in any way a comeback and says he's never really been away from acting in spirit - just taking a short break. "It's an on-going acting and movie career. I was just stepping out of it for seven years to do the governorship. I made it clear from the start that I didn't want to become a career politician, go on to the Senate or anything like that. By giving my time over to public service, I wanted to put something back into America, which has made my whole career. I was a public servant for seven years of my life despite my lack of pay. I didn't want any money for it - I lost tens of millions of dollars a year for doing it. But none of that mattered. I felt honoured to do it."

When it's mentioned that his female co-star Jaimie Alexander (Sif in Thor, who plays the Sheriff's loyal little helper) wasn't born when Arnie made Conan the Barbarian in 1982, the film that got his movie career kick-started, Arnold says jokily: "Do we have to get into the age thing?" If it irritates him, it doesn't show. He's still smiling, though there is a feeling that perhaps it wouldn't be best to be around when he stops smiling!

Maybe this is why nobody asks him any controversial or difficult questions, either about politics or his private life. He looks as though he might gobble people up, or at least terminate them if pushed in the wrong way.

Well, there is one little question that could have caused a bit of trouble. He's asked about Obama and the American gun laws. Is he on the right path with it? "The key thing is that everyone comes together to have a debate to see what we can do - we need to talk about gun laws, parenting, mental issues, ask are schools safe, do we need metal detectors and guards in schools. We have an opportunity to look at all these things and not just the gun laws. Then you can make changes." No trouble at all then.

What about his own future? "Even though I'm 65," he says, "I'm just as hungry as ever. I want to keep making bigger, better movies, with more and more interesting actors. We've got to look seriously at Terminator 5. They're writing it now." Plus there's another Conan movie on the horizon and a long-awaited sequel to Twins called Triplets in which he and Danny DeVito will be joined by Eddie Murphy. "Go figure!" he laughs.


 

Other than the movies, Arnie says, "I just want to have a good time and help people who need help." Amongst other things, he's involved with work with the United Nations, stem cell research and after-school programmes for children "so they don't get into trouble. I'm having a great time being involved in all these things."

He looks back on his career so far with pride. He was always incredibly ambitious, focused and hard-working. Back in the day he trained for six hours a day in the gym, but now it's only an hour and a half. No wonder he can still play the action hero! The career moved ahead slowly at first through the seventies, but then "it suddenly took off with Conan, The Terminator and Commando. The people have to buy in, and then the media. I was lucky that action movies were in vogue in the early eighties." His success, of course, was phenomenal, surprising even him, that a bodybuilder from Austria with a thick German accent and an unpronounceable name could become a huge star. "Only in America!" he laughs.

Now as an older bloke, he has some fatherly advice to young people. "You got to have a goal, a clear vision. It takes a lot of, lot of work. Success is impossible without goals. You have to be very determined in Hollywood. But I always had fun because I knew what I wanted to do. I've heard the entire 'it's impossible' thing and I just didn't ever believe it. You've got to have fire in the belly."

It's time to go, but there's just time to try out some of the old catchphrases first: "I'll be back," of course, "run and get to the chopper," "I lied," and "stick around." Weirdly, with his accent sounding stronger than ever, Arnold sounds like an Arnie impersonator as he happily says them for the millionth time. He clearly enjoys them all and says he doesn't have a favourite. "There's not one, but several. They're all classic lines but you never know ahead of time which ones will become favourites."

It has to be said that the same is true about actors and movie stars. The legend is still smiling and purring as he leaves the Abraham Lincoln Room, watching his back as he goes. It's been an honour and privilege to be in his company - and so much fun. The Last Stand, rated 15 in the UK, is at cinemas now.

Written by Derek Winnert, Cubed3 Film Correspondent.

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I'm surprised nobody asked about a potential sequel to The Last Stand. Arnie's character could easily be brought back for another adventure!

It'll be interesting to see what Arnie does next...

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
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