Arnold Schwarzenegger said he’d be back, and now he is. After taking seven years off to serve as governor of California, he has returned to Hollywood for his first leading role since 2003's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines with the action drama The Last Stand.
"It's great to be back," Schwarzenegger told reporters at a recent press conference. "As you remember when I went into the governorship in 2003, I said I only would go and run the state for the seven years that were remaining and then I would be back in the movie business, so it was just kind of stepping out of the movie business instead of kind of like I'm now going back to the movie business."
The Last Stand doesn't pull any punches with Schwarzenegger, who plays an experienced yet aging fighter in a way that parallels real life. Although he joked that he "cannot tell you about aging because it sucks," it’s clear from his movie choice that Schwarzenegger wanted to prove there's still space for him in "a whole new generation of action heroes."
Schwarzenegger started to get his action-hero groove back in the two Expendables movies, and he finally returns as a full-on badass in The Last Stand, which opens Friday. He credits much of that to South Korean director Kim Jee-Woon, who pushed him to be the best Schwarzenegger he could be.
"The director, Kim Jee-Woon, was a fanatic about wanting to see as much as possible done by me, done by the actors, and only when it gets really dangerous and you could risk getting injured heavily or killed the stunt guys would take over," he said. "The great thing about the movie is that we are not trying to play me as like the 35-year-old action hero but the guy that is about to retire."
Schwarzenegger worked alongside a strong supporting cast that includes Johnny Knoxville, Jaimie Alexander, Rodrigo Santoro and Luis Guzman, all of whom were also present at the press conference and said they grew up watching his movies. In addition, Schwarzenegger thanked producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who came to him before his time in office ended and said, "I want to have your first movie." Di Bonaventura got it, and the duo made The Last Stand. Now, however, the two men are looking forward.
With The Last Stand arriving in theaters, the big question is what Schwarzenegger will do next. He reteamed with Sylvester Stallone in The Tomb and has several other projects on the docket, but most fans primarily care about his return to the franchises that made him a star. Schwarzenegger has confirmed he’s involved in sequels to Conan the Barbarian, Twins and The Terminator, and it turns out they're projects he's been wanting to get off the ground for a while.
"A lot of it is timing. I would have chosen to do Conan already if it would have been ready, but the Universal Studios just bought the rights to Conan. They have an executive over there that happens to be a big believer in bringing back that character," Schwarzenegger said. "Universal Studios was the first one to do the movie with Dino De Laurentiis and now they want to be back and do a bunch of Conan movies, but to do it really high quality, not as a B-movie. Do the high quality like the first one John Milius directed and that Dino De Laurentiis produced. That will be ready by sometime this year."
He continued, "The same is also with Triplets, a sequel to Twins. I have been trying to get Universal Studios to do that for 10 years. The studio executives that were there up until recently did not see the value, but now the new leadership sees the value and says that's a brilliant idea, why haven't they done it? We want to do it. And so they hired the writers and they are full blast ahead, and that's a movie that we will be doing."
One reporter asked Schwarzenegger if he had any interest in doing a movie with Dwayne Johnson, who is a new generation's bodybuilder-turned-actor. Di Bonaventura took that question, saying, "I think it would a lot of fun to put two generations of action stars together that way. I think also Dwayne has got such a good sense of humor and Arnold does that I think you could really do some things you haven't really seen before with a buddy comedy, I guess. A buddy action comedy."
Schwartzenegger added to laughter, "I think it would be great for him, for The Rock, to play an earlier generation and me the later generation."