The actor portrays a construction foreman whose wife and pregnant daughter are killed in a plane crash
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In the new drama Aftermath, Arnold Schwarzenegger portrays a construction foreman named Roman whose wife and pregnant daughter are killed in a plane crash.

“I play a Russian immigrant, whose family has gone back to Russia to have some time for vacation over there, and I am expecting them back,” says the actor. “He is basically a happy guy. His wife is coming back, his daughter is coming back, the daughter is pregnant, and that would be my first grandchild, and everything is great. [But] when he gets to the airport to pick up his family he finds out they literally just crashed. So, that then develops the drama, and then Hell breaks loose for his life, and also for the air traffic controller that is being told that he caused this plane crash. This guy is basically looking for someone to say, ‘We’re sorry.’ And no one does. And that puts him in a state of despair, and anger, and frustration and works himself into a frenzy.”

Directed by Elliott Lester and costarring Maggie Grace, Martin Donovan, and Scoot McNairy (who plays the air traffic controller), this tale of grief and despair is very different from the action movies and comedies with which Schwarzenegger established himself as the biggest star in the world back in the ’90s. And that is one of the things that attracted the actor to the project.

“I’ve done all these action movies, I want to do something different,” says the actor, whose many credits include Predator, Total Recall, and the Terminator franchise. “When I look at my body of work, I always feel like, well, we spent a lot of time setting up shots for great action, but not really that much time in character development. I look forward to those type of projects, even though I don’t mind doing the others, too. I’m very interested in challenging myself. So, that’s why I chose it.”

Also? The former governor of California doesn’t actually need the need those big, action-movie paydays. “I’m not really cash-poor,” he says. “I don’t have to do a movie that is a big-grossing movie, or the most successful movie, or make the big salaries. I mean, I’ve been the highest paid actor. I’ve been there, and I’ve done all that, and I was very fortunate that I made one dollar into two. I was always very happy paying my taxes and everything, rather more than less. But I always concentrated on making one dollar into two. I always was very wise with my investments so I never really have to work because I have to make the next dollar.”

Aftermath is released in theaters and on VOD this Friday.