* "Not a 30-year-old action hero anymore"
* "Pleasantly surprised" by reaction to film
By Zorianna Kit
LOS ANGELES, Jan 18 Arnold Schwarzenegger,
taking inspiration from his idol, Clint Eastwood, returns to the
big screen on Friday in the action film "The Last Stand," his
first starring role since he took a seven-year break from
moviemaking to serve as California governor.
In a departure from his typical superhuman roles,
Schwarzenegger plays a retired Los Angeles policeman forced to
protect a tiny border town from a notorious drug kingpin. The
65-year-old former bodybuilder looks every bit his age and
admits in the film feeling "old" as h e takes a ribbing from some
of his significantly younger deputies.
As he embarks on a movie comeback in which he will star in
three films over the next 12 months, Schwarzenegger is embracing
his age rather than trying to relive his glory days as an action
He is taking his cue from the 82-year-old Eastwood - the
gun-toting former macho "Dirty Harry" star who eased into more
senior roles, winning plaudits for movies like last year's "The
Trouble with the Curve," and "Million Dollar Baby" in 2004, for
which he was nominated for a best-actor Oscar and won for best
Schwarzenegger said he was inspired by Eastwood in the 1993
film "In the Line of Fire," where Eastwood's character, a Secret
Service agent, is short of breath after running alongside the
"I thought that was so cool," Schwarzenegger told Reuters TV
recently. "I remember how smart it was to acknowledge that
because it took the curse off. No one was trying to say, 'Isn't
he too old for this job?' That's what I tried to do in this film
since (Eastwood) is a big idol of mine and I always like to
learn from him."
Schwarzenegger said he felt great physically, but that
reality had set in. "I'm not a 30-year-old action hero anymore,"
he said. "I'm now 65 years old, but I'm still doing action
movies. I acknowledge that it's a different ballgame now. I'm an
In "Last Stand," Schwarzenegger said he agreed to play the
part of Sheriff Ray Owens because "it was kind of a traditional
Schwarzenegger action movie" with "big blow-ups, a great story,
good drama, fight scenes and action from the beginning to the
Schwarzenegger began his transformation to an aging action
star in the 2010 film "The Expendables" and its 2012 sequel
where he played an aging movie star in an ensemble cast that
included Sylvester Stallone and other older stars.
"I was very pleasantly surprised by the positive reaction,"
said Schwarzenegger, who was Republican governor of California
from 2003 to 2011.
Critics have mostly embraced Schwarzenegger's return with
"Last Stand," despite the film's modest budget. Film critic
Marshall Fine called it "shamelessly entertaining," while The
Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy wrote that Schwarzenegger
"still conveys the old self-confident, humorous I-dare-you
attitude towards his adversaries."
An older, wiser Schwarzenegger chose to play vintage roles
in his other upcoming films as well. In September, he teams up
again with Stallone in "The Tomb," where they play aging inmates
who plot a prison escape. Next January, Schwarzenegger will star
in "Ten," playing what the film's director, David Ayer, called
"a broken old drug warrior."
In an interview with Reuters, Ayer said his No. 1 goal in
working with Schwarzenegger was "transformation." The director
said he studied every frame of Schwarzenegger's films, noting
that most of the actor's filmography had "a very specific tone,
almost jocular in a sense, where it is not necessarily a
psychologically realistic portrayal of a man or a character."
"You look at all these performances, and the question is,
have these characters been treated as something he can transform
himself?" Ayer said. "I probably asked him to do things he
wasn't asked before. I knew I could take him someplace new. Some
of these scenes required real, heavy lifting."
In the end, Ayer believes moviegoers will be "blindsided" by
what they see of Schwarzenegger on screen.
Yet even as Schwarzenegger attempts to widen his range as an
actor, he is not leaving behind the genre films that made him
That means going back to some of his popular franchises of
the past, including a new "Conan the Barbarian" film that is
expected to go into production later this year and a sequel to
the 1988 action comedy "Twins" to be called "Triplets."
"It's important I pick projects that the fans, that the
audiences like to see," he said.
He already has another big fan in his friend Stallone, who
talked him into acting in the two "Expendables" films.
"What is the definition of a star? Someone who people will
wait three hours in the rain to see," Stallone said. "And people
still have their umbrellas out for him."
(Editing by Peter Cooney)