Action icon Arnold Schwarzenegger is back and headed full throttle for an all out showdown in The Last Stand, by director Kim Jee-woon. In this high speed, high mayhem action thriller, the good guys never had it this bad. Although they’re ready to give it everything they’ve got in this hard charging, care chasing, fist fighting wild ride that takes an amped up spin on the classic good vs. bad battle.
The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as relentless Sheriff Ray Owens, as he is helped by his crew of crime fighting sheriffs, Johnny Knoxville, Rodrigo Santoro, Jaimie Alexander, and Luis Guzman. At a recent press conference we were able to speak to the cast and ask Arnold about his Hollywood come back, aging and doing action scenes and how it was for the rest of the cast to be working with such an iconic actor.
Arnold why did you decide to come back to the business?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: It’s great to be back! When I got into the govenership in 2003, I said I wold only run the state for the seven years then I would be back in the movie business. So it was just stepping out of the movie business, I was a public servant for seven years and I’m back again, the only thing is that it’s a scary thing to come back because you don’t know if you’re excepted or not. There could be a whole new generation of action heroes and things change very quickly in our business. But I was very pleasantly surprised with my cameo in The Expendables” that there was a positive reaction that I was asked to do the sequel and there was an even bigger reaction. So this in now my first staring role and I’m happy to be working with really talented people. Acting wise I really feel comfortable coming back, it’s kind of like riding a bike.
Arnold how do you feel about aging and doing action scenes now?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: I can’t tell you about aging because it sucks. We all go through the same dramas, we all look in the mirror and say what happened? This movie required a lot of stunts, it required a lot of action and a lot of physical work. The director Kim Jee-woon was a fanatic of doing as much as possible and only when it got really dangerous the stunt guys would take over, that was the rule. But you know when you’re 65 it’s different from when you’re 35. The great thing about the movie is that I’m not trying to play me as the 35 year old action hero but the guy that is about to retire where all of a sudden this challenge comes his way where he really has to get his act together.
For the rest of the cast how was it working with an action icon on this film?
Johnny Knoxville: For me it was a total dream come true, I grew up watching Mr. Schwarzenegger’s films and just to be on set with him and do a film with him was surreal for me. He makes it so easy for you, so open and pleasant and the most gregarious person I’ve ever meet that loves being a round people.
Rodrigo Santoro: I also grew up watching him, it just means he had a huge impact on me. Conan was the first one that really got me and was a tornado force. There was one scene in this film where there is gun fire coming our way and Arnold says “go I’ll cover you” and for a second I felt very confident that nothing was going to happen to me because it was Arnold covering me.
Johnny Knoxville: If he says you’re covered then you’re covered.
Luis Guzman: Yea I grew up watching him too.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: I think it’s the other way around.
Luis Guzman: I was so thrilled to do this with him and we hit it off and he’s back. It’s not I’ll be back, its he’s back! It was an honor.
Arnold what was your favorite scene to shoot in this film?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: For me it was the car chase through the cornfield because how many times do we have a chance to do a car chase through the cornfield? We all can imagine how it is to drive fast on the road but to go through the corn field not knowing where you are going or if there is a ditch coming up. We did the chase for several days in this gigantic cornfield and we had to be really careful not to wipe it out on the first take. It was so much fun to get in that car and have the stunt coordinator screaming at you saying faster, faster and now bang into the car next to you. That’s the fun thing about movie making is that you have moments like that. Wow I’ve lived 65 years and to have the experience of driving through that cornfield in a Camero, it’s amazing.
How was it working with Korean director Kim Jee-woon?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: I was amazed that someone that speaks that little English can articulate exactly what he wants you to do in the scene. Many times I didn’t have to wait for the translator to translate, he was so animated and he himself is such a great actor that he would act out the scenes and you could really see what he was expecting out of that scene. Even when we did stunts he would show us how to throw ourselves on the ground, and he himself would throw himself on to the ground and would bang his head into the wall. He would act out all this stuff because he was a very passionate guy. He’s a visionary, he has a very clear look for what the look of the movie should be, he has a certain style of shooting and there was a lot of camera work that we haven’t seen in the past. At the same time he’s very collaborative because we have seen foreign directors come to America, having won the Oscar and failing terribly because they’re not collaborative. He was a team player and he was also tough. He wanted to get his way but he also knew how things are done in America.
Johnny and Arnold, you guys have done pretty crazy things to your bodies over time, how are they holding up?
Johnny Knoxville: I’m feeling pretty good, everything is completely healed right now. But there have been a few breaks and sprains and concussions.
Arnold Schwarenegger: Same here I feel good right now but I’ve had my share of injuries. I think anyone who has lifted as many tons of weights as I’ve have and the wear and tears and you have injuries, so I’ve had a lot of surgeries and been fixed. I’ve just got back from a one week ski trip from Sun Valley and you know how kids try to out ski you but I can still do all of that stuff and also do the stunts.
Johnny Knoxville: We’re feeling good and looking good.
Arnold you’ve mainly done action films and now since you’re back is there anything else you would like to try?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: I think every actor always looks for a challenging role and looks for things that you have not done. So each of my movies has a unique twist or scenes that I haven’t done before and I’m looking forward to doing something very challenging. I’m very open minded about it, I read a lot of scripts and look at different things but at the same time I have to also be realistic that I may see something that I would like to do and the producers may think it’s fantastic but could also think that no one would want to see it. Then I have to go out there and raise my own money and shoot it in my backyard and that’s show business.
There are rumors that you might be doing another Conan in the future or another Terminator, so why did you pick this film and what is the status of the other films?
Arnold Schwartzenegger: A lot of it has to do with timing, that’s what show business and politics have in common. I would have chosen to do Conan already if it would have been ready but Universal bought the rights to Conan. They have an executive over there who happens to be a big believer in brining back that character. Universal was the first studio to do the film and now they want to bring it back. We want to do a bunch of Conan movies but to do them in high quality, not as a B movie. So they will be ready some time this year. The same goes for Triplets, it’s a sequel to Twins. I have been trying to get Universal to do that film for ten years and the studio executives there until recently didn’t see the value but now the new leadership sees the value. So they have hired the writers and they’re full blast ahead and that is a movie that we will be doing. In general I make decisions based on what the audience out there is interested in seeing me do.
“The Last Stand” is in theaters January 18th.