Arnold Schwarzenegger on “Maggie”
Hollywood’s Biggest Action Star Takes On Dramatic Role for Independent Zombie Flick
May 08, 2015 Web Exclusive
“This is the most human story that I’ve ever done, and it’s the most human character that I’ve ever played,” says Hollywood action icon Arnold Schwarzenegger. “I also think it’s the most human zombie movie that’s ever been done.”
Indeed, Maggie isn’t the sort of zombie film many readers would imagine when they see Schwarzenegger’s name attached. Since the early 1980s, the Austrian-born actor has been Hollywood’s premiere action star, with iconic roles in the violent Terminator and Conan franchises and numerous other genre classics, such as True Lies, Total Recall, Predator, and Commando. The words “Schwarzenegger” and “zombie” immediately conjure images of the actor obliterating the living dead left and right, if not with his bare hands, then at least with a broadsword or rocket launcher. But, that isn’t the sort of film Maggie is—or the sort of role Schwarzenegger plays in it.
“I become this vulnerable character,” he explains. “That’s what appealed to me in the first place. That’s why I took the job.”
In Maggie, Schwarzenegger plays Wade, a single father whose daughter (Abigail Breslin) is bitten by a zombie. He pulls a few strings to have her released from government-mandated quarantine; she’s given six to eight weeks to live before she joins the ranks of mindless, flesh-eating monsters. In a surprisingly emotional role, Schwarzenegger spends much of the film’s runtime coming to terms with his daughter’s condition and looking for a way to say goodbye. In that regard, Maggie plays less like a zombie film and more like a family drama about terminal illness—albeit, set on the brink of Armageddon.
“It is very draining,” Schwarzenegger says of his experience playing the first truly dramatic role of his career. “It’s tough, but at the same time it’s not tough, because you’re having such a good time doing it. You’re so passionate about the character you’re playing, and the movie. It’s fun to do, but you get wiped out.”
Since his return to acting following a decade of semi-retirement—during which he served as Governor of California—he’s taken on almost exclusively action roles, including parts in Escape Plan, The Last Stand, and The Expendables 2 & 3. There are many reasons why Schwarzenegger, who turns 68 in 2015, has waited this long to take a plunge into serious dramas; however, it boils down to Maggie being a case of the right material coming to him at just the right time.
“When I read the [Maggie] script I thought, I could do that, because I understood what it was like being a father,” he says. “Twenty-five, 30 years ago, I couldn’t have said that. And I wouldn’t have really had the time, because there were so many big projects around then. I was chasing the big money. I was working my way up to be the highest-paid actor. Today, that doesn’t mean anything to me, because I’ve made a lot of money and I’m in a different place in my life now.”
From the way he talks about the film, Maggie—which was directed by first-time feature filmmaker Henry Hobson and written by newcomer John Scott 3—is a project Schwarzenegger is incredibly passionate about. As an independent production, Maggie was made on a much smaller budget than the actor’s worked under in decades.
“The first Terminator movie was a small movie,” he says, recalling the low-budget sci-fi action film that launched him—and director James Cameron—into superstardom back in 1984. “Everyone had to do things way beyond what you’d have to do on a big studio movie. There is a certain kind of camaraderie that comes in, with the people behind the camera being as enthusiastic about the project as you are in front of the camera.”
Schwarzenegger hopes that Maggie will mark a turning point in his career in the same way that 1988’s Twins led to him being cast in comedies through the 1990s. While he’s certainly not leaving mainstream blockbusters behind—he’ll appear in this summer’s Terminator: Genisys, followed by a new Conan the Barbarian movie and a Twins sequel (titled Triplets)—he’s looking forward to being offered roles with more depth to them in the future.
“When I get an offer to do Terminator 5, I’m very excited about that,” Schwarzenegger explains. “When Universal calls and says we are almost finished with writing the script of another Conan movie, I’m excited about that. But I’m also very excited when I read a script like Maggie … I will be looking for more dramatic roles like that.”
Maggie is now in theaters. For more information about the film, check out its website.
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