It’s been too long since Arnold Schwarzenegger has graced our theaters. Oh sure, both Expendables films were nice teases of his triumphant return. That return is here now with The Last Stand, a film that knows all it needs to do is just have fun. While a more in-depth analysis will be posted later in time, let’s just say the former Governator is back, and we should be grateful he’s returned to us.
We were fortunate enough to sit down with the cast and discuss Arnold’s return, what it was like for the big man to come back after all this time, and how his fellow cast looked up to him…even Luis Guzman.
For Arnold, how does it feel to be back?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: First of all, it feels great to be back. When I first got the governorship in 2003, I said I was only going to be there for the remaining seven years, and then I would be back in the movies. So it was just kind of stepping out of the movie business rather than I’m going back to the movie business. I was a public servant for seven years, I worked for the state of California, and now I’m back again. The only thing is, when you have left the movie business for seven years, you don’t know if you’ll be accepted or not. There could be a whole new generation of action heroes, as things change very quickly in our business. I was very pleasantly surprised, when I did the cameo for The Expendables that there was a great, positive reaction towards my appearance, that Sly asked me to appear in the second film. Instead of four hours, I was working four days, so maybe in the next Expendables I’ll work four weeks. But this is my first starring role, and I was very fortunate to work with such great, talented people, with a producer I had full trust in, because we had worked on projects before, and we kept our relationship going for those seven years. Lorenzo came to me and said ‘I want to have your first movie.’
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: And that’s before he left to be governor.
Arnold: It’s great to be back. It’s like riding a bike or like skiing. You just pick it up and go right back to it.
While you were a public servant, what did you miss about acting, and now that you’re back, what do you miss about politics?
Arnold: I didn’t miss anything. I think you get so engrossed in what you’re doing, and it’s a big responsibility to run a state. California is the number one state in the union, and this is the number one country. Because you’re so into it and passionate about things that are going on in your state, you don’t really have time to miss things about the movie business. It was an honor for me to serve the people, and then again, after the seven years, I didn’t look for another public service job because I didn’t want to be a career politician, I didn’t see myself as that. I wanted to be back in the movie business, and it’s great now to be back, and there’s not much I miss about being governor.
For the rest of the cast, how was it working with such an icon in the action genre?
Jaimie Alexander: For me, I grew up watching this guy. This guy is amazing, you never hear him complain. He could still kick your ass in an arm wrestling contest, and I had a great time, I’m really blessed.
Johnny Knoxville: And for me it was a total dream come true. I grew up watching Mr. Schwarzenegger’s films too. Just to be on set with him, it was surreal for me. But he makes it so easy for you, he’s so open, and pleasant. He loves being around people, and loves making movies and it was great to be around.
Rodrigo Santoro: You guys said it all. It just means he had a huge impact on me. Conan was the first one, and Terminator for me. There’s a scene where we have to run across the street, and Arnold is covering us, and they’re shooting guns and everything. He just had to say “Go, I cover you.” We were just rehearsing, and I went for it. He’s saying ‘I cover you’, nothing’s going to happen to me. For one second, I was blind. It’s just something about him that feeds you. It was a dream come true for me too.
Luis Guzman: I gotta admit, I grew up watching you too Arnold.
Arnold: I think that was the other way around.
Luis: I was so thrilled, y’know. I’ll never forget the first day I showed up to work, and there’s Arnold and I said ‘Hey buddy, how ya doing?’ And he looked at me and said ‘Let’s do this’, and again, he’s back. It’s not I’ll be back, he’s back. Again, it was an honor, and we had such a great cast and a great crew, and it really came together really, really well.
There’s action, there’s physical work, and all of you seem to have a moment. If you had one memorable moment, what would it be?
Johnny: I’ll go ahead and jump on that. Shooting down out of the back of the bus, and I’m feeding bullets into the machine gun that Arnold is shooting, and I’m doing an action sequence with Arnold Schwarzenegger, that was it for me. That was one of my career and life high moments.
Rodrigo: I was driving the bus.
Johnny: You did a wonderful job!
Rodrigo: Same here, and it was awesome. Pretty cool.
Luis: I have to say, when they shot that rocket propelled grenade, and it was at that little car, and I was watching it on the monitor and it blows it up, I was thinking ‘How the hell could anyone survive that?’ but sure enough I did.
Jaimie: One of my funnier moments was how many takes it took me to load the sniper rifle a hundred times in a row, and I think you showed me how to do it once, and that helped out a lot. I don’t know, being on the roof and looking after all these guys was my favorite.
Arnold: For me, it was the car chase through the cornfield. How many times do we have a chance to do a car chase through a cornfield? You can all imagine what it’s like to drive fast on the road, because we’ve all driven fast on the road. But you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know what’s coming up, and maybe you drive with less amount of speed. We did it for several days in this gigantic cornfield. We had to be very careful to not destroy the entire thing in two days. It was very well organized, and the crane shots were really used well. It was so much fun to step into that car and really get going, and have the stunt coordinator yell at you ‘Faster, faster! Now bang into the car next to you!’ You look down and you’re going eighty miles an hour through the cornfield. That’s the great thing about making movies. You have moments like that we’re you’re like ‘Wow, what an experience.’
What was it like to work with Kim Ji-woon?
Jaimie: I really enjoyed working with him. He’s got a vision unlike anyone I’ve ever met before. He’s very artistic, but he understands the action-comedy ratio quite well. He had a translator, and naturally you get a little intimidated by that, but it worked very well. He was very, very collaborative and open to listening to us talk about our characters. I’d love to work with him again.
Arnold: I was amazed that someone who speaks that little English can articulate what he wants you to do in the scene. Many times, I did not even have to wait for the translator to translate. He’s so animated, and he himself is such a great actor that he would act out the scenes. Not necessarily with the dialogue, but he would act out the scenes, so you could see what he wanted out of the scenes. So he really crafted the scene, it was amazing. He communicates fine in English, but sometimes to explain a scene, especially as a foreigner, it becomes very tricky, very difficult. It was really amazing how well he did that. Even when we did stunts, he would go to her [Jaimie] ‘No no, this is how I want you to throw yourself into the ground,’ and he would literally throw himself into the ground and would bang his head into the wall. Everyone would ask him ‘are you ok?’ and he would say ‘Yeah, yeah. I did it the wrong way, let me show you again,’ and he would do it again. He would act out all this stuff, because he was a very passionate guy. As Jaimie said, he’s a visionary. He has a great vision for what the look should be, he has a certain style in shooting. At the same time, very collaborative. We’ve seen so many foreign directors, having won the Oscar, but then failing terribly because they’re not collaborative. If you don’t listen to Lorenzo, who has been with Warner Brothers for all these years, and now as an independent producer made so many movies, it would be a mistake for Kim Ji-woon to not pay any attention to Lorenzo and do it his way, the South Korean way. You need to know the American way. He worked together with Lorenzo every step of the way, and he was a team player, even though tough. He wanted to get his way on many of the things, but he know how things were done in America.
Lorenzo: It was also a culture shock for him. Literally how a movie is actually made is different here than it is in South Korea. It was an experience for all of us, that you had to go halfway towards him and he had to go halfway towards you. He’d learn things about the way we would do it, and we’d learn things about the way he would do it, and sometimes the two would combine and create something none of us had seen before.
Arnold: He was terrific, and a lot of credit goes to Lorenzo, because you really have to have a vision to see the talent in someone like him, to be the first one ‘I’ll take the risk, I’ll put 30 million dollars into this guy. People would rather do the old hat thing, and not the golden venture, and try new things, and I give a lot of credit to Lorenzo. He was the one who brought Kim over to my house and we had hours of discussion. Lorenzo kept having discussions with me ahead of time saying ‘Wait ’til you see this guy, he’s perfect, you know, give him time and have patience with him,’ and that’s exactly what we did. After the first meeting, I was just as convinced with Lorenzo that we had a terrific director to go with.
The Last Stand opens Friday.