In Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new film Maggie (out May 8), the Terminator is trying to neither save nor annihilate humanity. Rather, he portrays a devastated everyman coming to terms with the fact that his beloved daughter (Abigail Breslin) is slowly transforming into a zombie. Below, Schwarzenegger talks about why he decided to sign up for—and shed a tear on—first-time director Henry Hobson’s low budget horror-drama.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you get involved in Maggie? To be honest, if I read that script, your name wouldn’t have sprung to mind to play the lead male role.
I don’t know exactly the history. But the script is Blacklisted, it was a good script, everyone loves it, but it didn’t get made. I think that since they didn’t get it made, couldn’t get it made, they maybe thought, “Well maybe we should get someone with high visibility, so we can get it made.” Maybe it was not the original idea but it was the next step.
My agent always really believed in it and he said, “You shouldn’t do anything else but this. It’s a great story, it’s something totally different.” I read it, and it was totally different, and it was very dramatic, and it was very sad. So eventually I just said to myself, “Okay, it doesn’t take that much time out of my life, so maybe now is the time to do something like this.” A while back, I wouldn’t have been able to do that, because I wouldn’t have maybe liked it, or I wouldn’t have been able to act it out. Now, having kids, I can relate to it much better. So it all somehow came together.
It’s always good when you play opposite of what you appear to be. It appears I can handle just about anything because of my history in movies. I’ve always come out to be the victor. But here there is this illness that definitely is more powerful than me. That was really the appealing part—that I appear vulnerable.
At one point you even shed a tear. Was that acting? Or did you get some help?
No, no, no. This kind of movie doesn’t need any of that. It was so sad. It was not difficult at all.
Were you on the project before Henry?
No, no. Henry was there for four-and-a-half years, and he was passionate about it. He had done storyboards, he had extensive albums of the look of the movie, the lighting of the movie, the mood, the music. He had it very well mapped-out in his mind what the movie was about. This convinced me that someone like him, as a first-time director, would be able to do it. I remember when I did Terminator with James Cameron, he had only done one other movie before, but he was very well organized. He had storyboarded it out, and knew exactly what he wanted, and that’s what gives you the confidence as an actor. John McTiernan had only done one movie before we did Predator.
The budget for Maggie was a reported $6 million—a tiny fraction of what a Terminator movie costs.
It’s so much fun when you do five weeks of work where you really focus on the acting versus “Okay, let’s do this scene quickly because we’re going to blow up a car.”
Speaking of Terminator, fans were disappointed in the last film in the franchise, Terminator Salvation. Will the forthcoming Terminator restore their faith?
They want to do a trilogy, so we’ve got to deliver here. I cannot speak for the last one. I was governor when the last one was done.