Movie Fanatic caught up with Arnold Schwarzenegger for The Last Stand, his first big return to film since becoming Governator of California. Shown off in The Last Stand trailer, the movie finds him playing an Arizona sheriff on the verge of retirement who gets pulled into a federal-local law enforcement effort to stop a notorious drug lord from crossing the border into Mexico.
"It's great to be back. When I got into the governorship in 2003, I said I only would go and run the state for the seven years that were remaining, then I would be back in the movie business. I was a public servant for seven years, worked for the state of California and now I'm back again," Schwarzenegger said.
"The only thing is that when you have left the movie business for seven years, it's kind of like a scary thing to come back because you don't know if you're accepted or not."
The action star was humble, eloquent and effervescent when it comes to talking about his place in film history, what he seeks to do on celluloid for the next decade, as well as giving us an insight into the mind of the man who rose through Hollywood ranks to become a movie star, and then governor of one of the U.S.'s biggest states. His return to screen dominance was so brilliantly announced in that first The Last Stand quad poster -- with a classic Arnold gaze, we knew he was truly back.
Movie Fanatic: What is going through your mind as you ready to do battle at the box office where once was a ballot box?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Things change very quickly in our business. But I was very pleasantly surprised when I was doing the cameo in Expendables that there was such a positive reaction that Sly asked me then to do The Expendables 2 and there was even a bigger reaction to that. So this is now my first starring role, and I'm very happy that I chose a movie to work with really talented people. It's really great to be back and see the reaction of the people. It's kind of like riding a bike or skiing, that you click right back into it again.
Movie Fanatic: Did you miss the movie business while being California's highest elected official?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: I think that I really didn't miss anything. It's such a huge responsibility to run a state. California is the number one state in the union and this is the number one country, so you really have a huge responsibility, and especially when you have legislators that are somewhat out of control. And to bring Democrats and Republicans together is always a miracle. Because you're so into it and passionate about it and serving your state, you really don't have time to miss things in the movie business.
Movie Fanatic: One of the best things about The Last Stand is how it makes light of your age on occasion...
Arnold Schwarzenegger: I think it was appropriate. It takes the curse off then. You can make fun of yourself. I think Clint did that very well, and others I've seen do that very well when you get to a certain age, and we felt we'd use it too.
Movie Fanatic: At your young age, is it difficult to do stunts, knowing there was a time where it didn't hurt so much?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Well, I cannot tell you about aging because it sucks [laughs]. I'm no different than you. We all look in the mirror and say, 'What happened?' I once had muscles and slowly they are deteriorating! But the great thing is if you do work out every day, you stay in shape and you feel good. This movie required a lot of stunts, action and a lot of physical work. The director, Kim Jee-woon, was a fanatic about seeing as much as possible done by me. When you could risk getting injured heavily or killed, the stunt guys would take over.
Movie Fanatic: I suppose it's choreographed around what works well for the film and for the actor...
Arnold Schwarzenegger: That was the rule! And so we all practiced. We all rehearsed. We all did over and over. But when you're 65 it's different from when you're 35 [laughs]. The great thing in the movie is that we're trying to not play me as the 35-year-old action hero, but as the guy who is about to retire -- and all of a sudden this challenge comes up where he really needs to get his act together. That's what the movie's about, the underdog. He has the 20 most dangerous mercenaries descending on his town.
Movie Fanatic: Most memorable moment of making The Last Stand?
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 a cornfield [laughs]? I mean, we all can imagine what it's like to drive fast on the road because we all have driven fast on the road, but to go through a cornfield not knowing where you're going or if there's a ditch coming up. It was so much fun to get into the car and to start going and to hear the stunt coordinator screaming at you, 'Faster, faster, faster! Now bang into the car next to you! Faster!'
Movie Fanatic: What is coming next? Will we see a new Conan and what about Triplets with Eddie Murphy, the sequel to Twins?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Let me just say that a lot of it has to do with timing. That's what show business and politics have in common. I think that I would've chosen to do Conan already if it would've been ready. But Universal bought the rights to Conan. They have an executive over there that happens to be a big believer in bringing back that character. They want to do it high quality like the first one where John Milius directed and Dino DeLaurentis produced. That will be ready by sometime this year, and the same is also true with Triplets, a sequel to Twins. I have been trying to get Universal Studios to do that for 10 years, and the studio executives that were there up until recently did not see the value. But, now the new leadership sees the value and says, 'This is a brilliant idea. Why haven't they done it?' [Laughs] So, we're doing it!