- Category: Interviews
- Created: Tuesday, 05 May 2015 23:21
- Published: Wednesday, 06 May 2015 16:14
- Written by Lupe R Haas
Arnold Schwarzenegger may be an action icon but his latest turn marks a significant departure.
Following a zombie outbreak, Wade (Schwarzenegger) is determined to care for his infected daughter (Abigail Breslin) as she lives out her final days. The film offers a haunting portrait of a family in distress - maintaining a sense of doom and heartbreak throughout. Watch Trailer
Schwarzenegger brings an inherent darkness to his role that allows the audience to feel his character’s agony.
During a press conference for the film that was held during the Tribeca Film Festival Schwarzenegger, his co-star Joely Richardson and director Henry Hobson spoke about grounding the supernatural drama.
Q: What was the appeal of Maggie for you?
Schwarzenegger: It’s a dramatic piece. It’s the most human story that I’ve ever done. The most human character I’ve ever played. I think it’s the most human zombie movie that was ever done.
It focuses so much on people and the dilemma that this man is in. He’s a strong farmer that can normally handle anything but becomes very vulnerable.
Q: How was it collaborating with Henry Hobson, a relatively new director?
Schwarzenegger: Working with Henry was a real pleasure. To me it’s not so much about how many movies you’ve done but if you have a vision. He had a very clear vision. It was clear that I would be in good hands.There was never even a question. I just wanted to make sure that he was protected as a director and that I could be a producer and make that my responsibility. So that someone didn’t come in and say ‘I want you to shoot this differently,” or “I want a different ending.’ First time directors need to be protected. I wanted to make sure he could really put his vision on screen.
Q: You shot the film in Louisiana but the film looks like it could have been shot anywhere - did you seek out this location or did tax breaks play a role?
Henry Hobson: I would have chosen somewhere slightly different and perhaps somewhere less humid.
We ended up using four different houses to make one house. It was a way of creating a house in a place that people couldn’t quite place - so there would be a relatability.
We’ve seen a lot of other zombie projects. What was nice about this one was that the art direction, the costumes, the makeup … everything was very real and raw. That allowed the setting to feel as real as possible and to make it easier to get into the film and live and breathe that real grounded world.
Q: Though there are supernatural elements to the story, it feels very real. What helped you ground the character?
Joely Richardson: I stayed grounded thanks to Henry. Henry was the total autour. Obviously Arnold and Abigail and the other actors. But Henry, not only did he have a vision … some people have a vision and don’t know how to follow through with their visions. He gave us all very specific notes. And if he didn’t like something that Arnold was doing or I was doing, he would tell us how he wanted it. That takes courage and vision.
Schwarzenegger: I think to be alone and spending time at that hospital with those bodies lying around. They were made up so well, those people that were lying there. They made it feel like reality. It was easy to get into that character and just feel helpless and wondering ‘What do I do now? That’s my daughter.’ I started visualizing what that would be like with my own daughter. And I didn’t even have to do that that many times to be honest because Abigail made it feel so real. I never felt like she was acting. I felt like she was dying.
I thinks there’s something to be said of small movies because the camaraderie and the way we worked together was different than on a big action movie. It was quite unique. It brought out the best of me.
Q: What have you found to be more difficult, the physically demanding scenes or the emotional ones?
Schwarzenegger: The brain takes more energy than the body does. It is very draining. When I was in the Governor's office, I was totally wiped out in the evening. It’s tough but at the same time it’s not tough because you’re having such a great time doing it. You feel so passionate about the character you play and the movie, so it’s fun to do.
Q: Where their any changes to the script once Arnold came on board to star?
Hobson: No. The script was a blacklist script and we wanted to stay true to the original thing that the community loved - which is was this small scale, slow pace, difficult to finance film.
No significant changes. There were a few things - we wanted to show what Maggie may go through with her boyfriend Trent. We wanted to build on that.
Q: Given that this is your first full out dramatic role, did you find that the preparation was any different than your previous films?
Schwarzenegger: I remember the first Terminator movie was a small movie - we only had six in a half million. There’s a certain camaraderie that comes in. The people that are behind the camera are just as enthusiastic and passionate about the project as the people in front of the camera. So everyone works together.
I remember when Henry was shooting a scene in front of the house and all of a sudden he saw the light in the field and said, ‘Let’s go into the field.’ What I thought was so fascinating was not how quickly we responded and went out into the field but how quickly the camera crew did it. There was no one screaming, ‘This is impossible,’ or ‘I need to change batteries.’ We all ran out into the field and shot that scene. It was perfect lighting. He’s such a visual person. He saw the perfect opportunity and went for it. That’s the kind of spirit that you see in movies.
Q: What was a challenging aspect of the role?
Schwarzenegger: To me it was always important to keep that father/daughter relationship. To me that was always a challenge - to make that as believable as possible. Having been a father for the last 25 years - I totally understand what it would be like to have that situation happened.
Q: Given that this is more of a dramatic role, is that where you see your career going?
Schwarzenegger: I just think that this particular role, when I read this script - I felt that I could do it because I understood what it was like being a father. Twenty five years ago or thirty years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. First of all, I wouldn’t have had the time because there were so many big projects around. I was working my way to become one of the highest paid actors. Today that doesn’t mean anything because I’ve made a lot of money and I’m in a different place in my life now. So, when I get an offer to do Terminator 5, I’m very excited about that.
When Universal calls and says, ‘We’ve almost finished the script for the new Conan movie,’ I’m very excited about that but I’m also excited for a script like Maggie.
So, yes I will be looking for more roles like this. In a way, it helps you break through. Having gone from action movies to comedies, I started getting offered more comedies. Hopefully, I’ll get more scripts like this.