Arnold Schwarzenegger Talks About Sabotage
Looking tanned, rugged, youthful and incredibly ripped, in jeans, a polo shirt and a brown leather jacket, Schwarzenegger sat down in LA for the following interview.
Q: What was the draw of the film for you?
A: “I think from an acting point of view it was a very challenging role for me, because I’ve never played a character like this. My characters are usually black and white: the good guy, with a little bit of humor throughout the movie and that’s it. This character was written quite differently and that was appealing to me. I was playing a very complex character, a guy with his own problems. The movie has so many different layers. And I enjoy different challenges. In another new film, MAGGIE, I play a farmer whose daughter is infected with the ‘zombie virus’ so that is quite a different role. It is a drama, a much smaller kind of movie, not an action movie. I am doing a variety of different roles, some sequels. I will be doing the TERMINATOR movie and the TWINS sequel called TRIPLETS and KING CONAN. I feel very fortunate that I can do all of these movies and do the big franchise movies too.”
Q: What did you admire about David Ayer?
A: “David wrote the script and put his own spin on the story and the film ended up being really terrific. He is good at making things very realistic. He is one of the best writers in Hollywood and an excellent director, so I wanted to work with him. David came in and was very clear; he had a set of things that needed to be done, like the weapons training. I said, ‘why do I need weapons training? I’ve shot more guns than anyone in movie history.’ He said, ‘Go down to the LA SWAT team, you have to figure this out. I want you to learn the ballet of this team!’ I love the fact that David pushed me, because sometimes directors get intimidated when they meet someone like me. (laughs) This guy is like John McTiernan was when he directed PREDATOR, or Jim Cameron when we made TERMINATOR. David is really brilliant, he is climbing rapidly and I want to move with him while he’s on the climb.”
Q: What sets this action film apart do you think?
A: “I think that what this movie has to offer, unlike most action movies is the realism. It is very well researched. We had so many experts on the set and a director who was basically fanatical about the realism and I think it paid off. It was a very good idea to work with the LA SWAT team and to practice with them, because when you watch them, you see very quickly that they are like ballet dancers, they are so well coordinated. If we had not done this training, we would have bumped into each other and shot each other with the guns! There are so many people that storm a house or a building in reality, so the question is: how do you not shoot each other? How do you catch the enemy and how do you move around? How do you hold the gun? How do you shoot? How do you aim? Do you have your head down? Do you bring the gun up to your eye? They would say: ‘Arnold, bring the gun up higher.’ That is what makes the movie look good, those kind of suggestions. I think that the training shows in the film, because we look believable as a SWAT team. All that brought the realism to the movie.”
Q: You look very different in this film, with the severe, gray hair cut and Vietnam tattoos. Why did you choose that look?
A: “Well that was not my choice! There was no appeal at all to my haircut; I want to make that very clear (laughs). I refuse to take credit for my haircut. It was David’s idea. He was actually sitting there when they cut my hair and dyed it. It was pitiful. I wore a hat the whole time when I was off the set because people were saying ‘geez, you look weird!’ But it was David’s way of making the character look authentic.”
Q: There are fantastic nail-biting stunts in the film, including a shoot-out on a truck, during a car chase through the streets of Atlanta. How do you pull off that kind of action these days?
A: “Well I don’t think about myself getting older. I don’t say: ‘okay, I’m now 66 years old so I better be careful that I don’t fall over because I am going to break my hip.’ Well, I did break my hip when I was younger, 15 years ago. It doesn’t matter. I broke my knee when I was 23. I spent plenty of time in the physical therapy office with my shoulder surgery. You go in and you see young kids there at the age of 16 with knee and shoulder injuries. You can get injuries no matter how old you are. The key is to train every day as I do and do sports every day, so that you’re in touch with this physical world.”
Q: How rigorously do you train right now?
A: “I always do an hour cardiovascular training in the morning and then 45 minutes to an hour at night with weights. Training gives you the advantage, because when you have a crazy director—David Ayer—who says, ‘I want you to be in top shape, we are going to run up the stairs fifty times and break through doors, and I want you to be like you were when you were 30,’ it’s not that big of a leap.”
Q: Are there any worries about injuries in a very physically demanding movie like SABOTAGE?
A: “No. I jump into these movies and we work with the stunt department and the production team and we all come to an agreement of what I should do and should not do. We decide when the stunt guy should come in. No one wants the star to get injured, so you don’t want to go and risk jumping out of a driving truck.”
Q: Does it take longer to recover?
A: “Yes if you get sore, if you do something unusual and you are tired, the next day your body doesn’t recover as quickly as it did when you were 30 years old. But other than that, it’s okay as long as you are still in shape, so you can do the running, the jumping and the fight scenes.”
Q: Can you talk specifically about the great car chase scene in the film, which is unusually thrilling? How did you accomplish it?
A: “You just get in back of the truck and you figure out what it takes when the driver makes the turn at 30 miles an hour or 50 miles an hour and what it means when the truck zigzags back and forth. How do you have your feet so you don’t slip? What kind of boots should you wear? You think about all that rather than saying: ‘at age 66 you shouldn’t be on the back of a truck filming a shootout.’”
Q: You don’t look your age at all!
A: “Well I am not like the typical image of a retired person, the kind of guy you sometimes see in movies sitting in a rocking chair. I’m not like the men I grew up with in Austria, with the pipes who would sit there at the age of 65 and doze off every two minutes and then talk about the good old days (laughs). No. I think it’s great to be over 60 and active. When I do a movie, I just do it as well as I can and I go all out for it.”
Q: Do you think that if we all exercise and keep fit – as you do – we will live longer?
A: “We’re going to live longer because we’re going to cure a lot of the illnesses in the next 10 or 15 years. That’s why, when I was Governor of California, I made sure that we passed an initiative which devoted three billion dollars to stem cell research, that was the highest amount of anywhere in the world. That research will pay off big time. There are all kinds of breakthroughs in surgery that are happening. And of course we know so much more now about nutrition, how to eat well. I have been in charge of the President’s Council on Fitness and as Governor have dealt with healthcare reform, so I know a little bit more than the average person. The most important thing is attitude, if you feel that at 60 you are like you were when you were 40, or don’t even think about your age. I say, ‘I’m going to go to work today, I’m going to do this action movie.’”
Q: Are there any other young action actors that you think will ever match you?
A: “I’m telling you, Joe Manganiello is going to be the next, fast rising star in the action genre. The only thing that would stop him is if he were to say: ‘I don’t really want to be an action star, I want to do all kinds of different roles.’ He is really good with stunts and he is very good with the fight scenes, because of his background as a football player. He is a great guy, the real deal. He is not faking it to be the good looking guy on screen. He is also a great athlete and a terrific actor. Joe looks like an action star.”
Q: Sam Worthington is also great in the film.
A: “ He is incredible, he is a great actor, he’s very focused. The way he changed his look in the film is incredible. You almost don’t recognize him. And he was also physically in unbelievable shape.”
Q: Revenge is one of the themes of the film? Is revenge human nature and within all of us would you say?
A: “I think that everyone would do anything they possibly could to get their family back. Of course this is a very complicated issue, because in law enforcement everyone wants you to work with them; they don’t want you to do anything on your own, to take revenge. In the movie, my character is in a perfect position because I am with law enforcement. I realized that I should stay within the law. But I decided that I would cross that line so that I could find the right guys who were responsible for killing my family, because I had already attempted to find the killers within the law and I couldn’t find them.”
Q: What are your thoughts on stemming the violence?
A: “There will always be violence, but we have to do everything we can to avoid it and to stop it. That is why here [in the States], I have my after school programs, because I realize that when young kids float around on a street unsupervised, they will often become part of gangs, and gangs go out and kill people. The cycle starts and goes on, so what we have to do is to focus on prevention: how to make sure kids do not get involved in violence and gangs and drugs in the first place.”
Q: Can you explain what it has been like returning to Hollywood after your time in the political arena? How challenging is it?
A: “You know, I don’t really analyze it. Whatever you do, acting or politics, it’s always a grind. It’s always tough. There’s nothing that is easy. I just said ‘I want to get back into the movie business and I’m going to start out again working my way up until I have successful movies, and whatever it takes I will do it and I will take my work seriously.’ And that’s what I did.”
Q: What can you share about the next hotly anticipated TERMINATOR sequel, TERMINATOR: GENESIS? Obviously everyone’s so excited that you’re returning to this iconic role and franchise.
A: “I can’t really tell you anything because they [the producers] are so secretive about everything, so I don’t want to go and talk about the story. But the bottom line is it’s a great team from the director (Alan Taylor) all the way down to the producer and the whole production.”
Q: You work so hard, how do you relax – in fact do you ever relax?
A: “Well maybe I’m a little bit of an overachiever. I was shaped by my childhood in Austria. When I grew up everyone was laboring and working hard. My mother was working in the household and my father was a police officer, so I grew up basically with the idea that if I don’t work I feel guilty. I have always said to myself: ‘do you want to accomplish something? Do you want to reach out and entertain people? Do you want to help people and change the world with the environment?’ You can relax all you want when you’re six feet under!’”
Q: Finally Arnold, any dreams or goals you have yet to achieve?
A: “I am living my dream every single day.”