Arnold Schwarzenegger Sabotage Interview

Action superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger sat down for an in depth chat about Sabotage, his gritty new action film with Director David Ayer. Arnie talks about playing a troubled DEA agent caught up in a bitter war with the drug cartels. He also spoke about upcoming plans to return to the classic roles like the Terminator, Conan and Triplets. Read the full interview below:

Q. What excited you about working with Director David Ayer?

I think he’s a very talented man. I think when you see training Day he’s a fantastic writer and when you see his directing in End of Watch you can see he likes action and realism. He tries to bring as much of the real thing to the screen as possible. I think it’s a totally different type of movie than people expect form Hollywood. When you fight the drug cartel as a DEA elite task force, inevitably you get a major war, major killings and payback time. If you take something from the drug cartel they will take it back. So this is what the movies about, this battle between good and evil where in the end you see good also crossing the line. It becomes about revenge.

David did a terrific job and what I also liked was his insistence for us to train with the Los Angeles SWAT team so that when we get to the set we can really act out the characters really well. We knew how to handle the weapons. I’ve handled a lot of different weapons in my life in different movies but the DEA and the SWAT handles weapons in a different way. The way the breach doors, the way they storm places, the way they come through buildings without killing the good guys but taking out the bad guys. You have to learn that and study it. It’s sort of like ballet the way they move.

That’s what made it really interesting, David’s insistence for us to train with them, practice with them and ensure that when we make it to set we were very well prepared.

Q. Was it tough playing such a dark and troubled character?

I play a really good character but he’s someone who deviates from his mission. His mission is to go and infiltrate the Cartel, to wipe them out and get rid of the drugs. But he starts looking for revenge because they’ve tortured and killed his family. So he becomes a flawed hero. The character I play does not go home and turn off. The character is 24 hours a day consumed by the fact his family was killed by the drug cartel, so all he wants now is revenge. He blames his fellow officers, the cartel. He blames everyone for it. He really wants to just get rid of everyone. But as Arnold when I go home I don’t think about the movie that I’ve just made. I go home and have my work out every night, go for dinner and rehearse for the next day. It’s all business during the time of shooting.

Q. In recent years we’ve seen a different side of you, playing characters that are more vulnerable or more aggressive, is that something you’re actively seeking out on your return to acting and is it something you’re eager to explore in returning to classic roles like Terminator or Conan?

I don’t have a master program. Like here’s what I want to do now after I’m finished with the governorship, wanting to go after more challenging roles. I think it has more something to do with being at a certain age. Especially coming out of a government job, you see the world as complex as it real is. Therefore you start getting attracted to characters that are written more complex and more three dimensional. I’m attracted to those type of characters now, where maybe 20 years ago I wouldn’t have been attracted to that same kind of script. The whole world has changed; I don’t think the drug war 20 years ago was as intense as it is today. When you see something like that you want to do a movie about the drug war. I as governor dealt with the drug issue in California and the drug cartel in real life. So that sort of story was appealing to me. But also because I was playing kind of a hero, but he was a flawed hero. Somebody who couldn’t stay on his mission but deviate from it for revenge. Revenge for his family. To me all of that and the way David was writing it made it a very appealing subject matter for a movie.

The next movie for instance is Terminator. That wasn’t something I planned either. It was just they bought the rights that where available for future terminator movies. They came to me and I felt very honored, because everyone else had been replaced in the movie. I loved the character, playing a machine. The Universal were coming to me saying we want you to play Conan. I said wow this is really great to get back to these old original characters that really made my career. But again it’s not a plan. I tried to do more Conan movies but the people that owned the rights I didn’t want to do the movies with. I didn’t want to do a Conan movie that was a half assed movie. I wanted a Conan movie done on the level of A-list movies. Where they put a big budget behind it and a great script, because then it can be a successful movie. Then they’re talking to me about Twins to do Triplets! Again this is something I’ve chased for 20 years. But there you have it, all of a sudden Triplets is there. It’s an idea I’ve had since we came out with the first movie. But hey kept on saying there’s no sequel, there is no sequel. Then all of a sudden they call me and say remember you were always talking about that sequel… well we think there’s a terrific movie in there. But it’s a new generation now at the studios, the old guard is gone there’ some new people in there. So this is basically the way it happens. I do one project at a time but I don’t have a specific theme or plan for this and that. Some of those ideas work and some don’t work, but I believe very strongly in those characters and what we do.

Q. How are preparations for Triplets going? How does Eddie fit in with yourself and Danny?

For Triplets we have not done any rehearsals but I’ve met with Eddie Murphy several times. I admire him as an actor and as a talent. He’s very very funny and an extraordinary actor. He will be perfect in Triplets to play one of our brothers.

Q. We see you work out at the start of the film, how close is that o you daily routine and do you have any tips?

The idea is to do the whole body. But obviously it’s not a documentary about my workout so they didn’t show my squats and calf raises. They didn’t show the abdominal exercise, the bicep work the triceps work. But if you really want to train you should do the total body. You should go from one exercise to the next without stopping.  That way you do the muscle training and the cardio vascular training all together. It doesn’t matter what age you’re in. You adjust the weights and today you have the machines. As you get older and have injuries there are certain exercise you can’t do, but you can do the work on machines. That’s why so many of those machines are in physical therapy centres even for people in hospital after surgery so they can rebuild themselves.

 Q. Can you tell us a bit about working with your co-stars?

It’s hard to say who was the most kick ass, because they were all in their own ways really very tough guys. David Ayer wanted to know ahead of time if those guys were really the real thing. So it’s not someone acting ballsy. It’s not a director having the luxury of saying we’re starting the movie a year from now I’m going to have this actor here, he doesn’t look yet the part but by the time I’m through with him and a personal trainer and SWAT he’ll look the part. There was none of that. He picked very tough guys. They all went through martial arts training, even the girls, they put on the headgear and they were pounded away on, kicked and everything like that. The director wanted people to come to set and not baby themselves. To really be ready to throw themselves around and do everything that’s possible.

Obviously when anything’s too dangerous the stunt guys have to take over, that’s usually the rule on a movie. When someone says they did all the stunts its nonsense because the fact of the matter is no production will want an actor to do something like high jumps where you could twist an ankle or something. Nothing major but it will take you out of the movie and will shut down the movie. So studios don’t like you to get injured. I get injured on every movie but it’s usually smaller things like banging my head on the camera. You got to an emergency room and get stitched up quickly then yu come right back to set and continue shooting. You’re able to do that because visual effects work can wipe out the stitches. But if you have a broken leg or a torn shoulder then you have to shut down production. That’s why you get physically tough guys. For example Joe Manganiello is a football player; he’s been working out doing mixed martial arts. E’s fantastic, he lifts a lot of heavy weights. He can take a lot of punishment and he can give a lot of punishment. Sam Worthington trained like a madman for this. He’s that kind of a guy. He was terrific in how intense he was ad how he was willing to put the hours in the gym, martial arts training. I had a great time working with those guy, I felt like I was thrown back into the Predator days when I was with the ensemble cast and surrounded by these different tough guys.

Q. Have you kept any souvenirs of those days?

I have the original model of the Predator in my office. My office has different Terminator characters I’ve played in it and the Predator, the Alligator from Eraser. The Jet from True Lies. All that kind of thing.

Q. How much training did you have to do before this film?

We did three months before we started filming, working with the SWAT team, martial arts trainers and all that stuff. But for instance with Conan I started a year before with sword training and horseback riding training. It’s one of those things, I think if you do something casually every day when the days comes to film the film it becomes so second nature that you don’t get any more sore wrists from the sword. The swords were heavy and the fight scenes were relentless. Of course when you shoot with a director like John Milios he believes that you should do all the swordplay yourself. For me I’d never done any sword fighting before so for me it was a new thing. I wanted to make that second nature. I’m coming from the bodybuilding background where it’s all about reps. For me it’s the same with acting, the more often you do a scene the more often you rehearse and practice with the weapons the better you’re going to be on screen.

Q. Is that kind of preparation part of your contracts or just something you do?

Contracts are all bogus anyway, who pays attention to contracts? If an actor has a contract to do 40 days of work and he walks of the set for 3 days what are you going to do? All you can do is cry. It’s not like you can go and say ‘I’m going to punish you’, because then they won’t perform the next three days. They’re going to be ‘sick’, emotionally sick. So then the shrink comes to the set. Contracts are only so that the lawyers have a god time and make their money. But it’s really all about how do you really feel. Like I don’t have any contract that I have to go down to New Orleans next week to practice, to rehearse, and to do camera tests for the entire wardrobe. There’s nothing in my contract about all that. But of course I want to go. You want to have the director Alan Taylor, who’s a fantastic director, to have the ability to make the right choices. The only way he can make the right choices is if he sees on film what the clothes look like. What does this leather jacket look like, what does these combat books look like. What does this shirt look like, how do I look in this t-shirt. What haircut should I have. So I go down for three or four days, hang out with the director and do all the tests. Work with the stunt coordinators. It’s not in the contract but you do it because common sense tells you that this is the right thing to do to make the movie successful.

Q. Liam Neeson has recently claimed that you’re fiercely jealous of his status as reigning action star, is that true at all?

Who’s the name… Liam Neeson? Am I jealous of him?….. No! I’m not jealous of anybody, I love being me. But I do admire people and Liam Neeson is one of the people I do admire. As much as I admire Sam Worthington and Joe Manganiello or Jim Cameron with his directing ability. I admire people for sure but I’m not jealous of anybody.

Sabotage hits UK Cinemas later this week. 


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