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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: The Terminator

Arnold Schwarzenegger's new director says he couldn't imagine a better fit for a drama

April 30, 2011 |  2:08 pm

At 63, Arnold Schwarzenegger plans on returning to the screen  with "Cry Macho," a drama about an aging horse trainer who, in a fit of desperation, kidnaps his former boss' son.

In three decades of acting, the actor has never before taken on a dramatic role. But "Macho" director Brad Furman ("The Lincoln Lawyer"), who recently ushered Matthew McConaughey back to dramatic turf, says that his meetings with Schwarzenegger have convinced him of how well the former governor could pull it off.

"We all have this perception of a certain kind of person and actor," Furman said. "He's Terminator, he's Commando. He ran for governor. But in person he's so gracious and humble. His humanity is unmatched."

The movie tells of a man and a boy who are each lost in their own way (the boy, the product of divorce, isn't wanted back by the ex-wife from whom Schwarzenegger's character has kidnapped him). "This is a human interest story about people who rediscover themselves," Furman said.

"Cry Macho" has a long history. It had been developed by producer Al Ruddy with Clint Eastwood to direct and Schwarzenegger in the lead back in 2003, before the action star went into politics. (Ruddy and Eastwood went on to collaborate on "Million Dollar Baby.") In that sense, at least, Schwarzenegger is going back not only to an action vehicle he once dominated like "The Termintor" but to projects left unfinished when he left for Sacramento.

Furman's film has a beating-the-odds theme, something Furman said Schwarzenegger could draw from his own life. "He was Mr. Olympia. Who thought he's going to be a movie star, or that he could be governor?" Furman said.

Although the "Cry Macho" filmmaker says that "when we first meet [the protagonist] he's a broken man," the director resists the inevitable comparisons to Mickey Rourke vehicle "The Wrestler," in which another middle-aged actor redeemed himself (on-screen and off-screen) "It's about more of an accidental journey [about how] In life you pick one path and it leads you to a different place," Furman said.

In addition to his iconic action roles, Schwarznegger has of course used hs large frame and occasionally stiff bearing for comedic effect, but rarely for something more subtle or dramatic.

But Furman, never one for holding back, has strong words for anyone who questions the former governor's ability to pull off the part. "Arnold's been doing this his whole life," he said. "Do you really think he can't do this? Who are you kidding?"


Arnold Schwarznegger will try serious acting. Maybe.

Arnold returns to acting. Is it a good idea?

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Arnold Schwarznegger in "Commando." Credit: 20th Century Fox

Arnold Schwarzenegger will try serious acting. Maybe.

April 29, 2011 | 11:32 am

Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to strap on the serious weaponry and blow people away on behalf of Skynet in a fifth "Terminator" movie. But before that happens, he could don a more dramatic mask.

So says Vulture, which calls "Cry Macho," a  drama from "Lincoln Lawyer" director Brad Furman and "Million Dollar Baby" producer Al Ruddy, Schwarzenegger's next movie. Based on a novel by N. Richard Nash, it centers on an aging horse trainer who tries to get back in with his boss by kidnapping the boss' son from his ex-wife (in a "Ruthless People" turn, his ex-wife doesn't want the son back).

The site calls the film Schwarzenegger's "first post-gubernatorial project." Of course, things frequently don't happen that quickly for projects like this. There's no financing yet for the independent film, which will be seeking funds from foreign sales at the Cannes Film Festival in May, an event ahead of which this news is serendipitously surfacing. And Furman does have a history of getting a bit ahead of himself. (Messages for Ruddy and Furman were not immediately returned Friday morning.)

If "Cry Macho" does get made, is it a good choice for Arnold? In the recent history of actor comebacks, a shift to serious gears has been an effective way to get one going; Mickey Rourke, for one, executed it to perfection in "The Wrestler."

Of course, that presupposes you have the chops to pull it off. And even if you could, sometimes it's still better to take on a big summer blockbuster. No matter how good Robert Downey Jr. would have been in the smallest indie circa 2008, it didn't hurt that he was seen by millions in "Iron Man."

With no script or screenwriter for "Terminator 5" and no money as yet for "Cry Macho," it will still be a little bit before we see Schwarzenegger back on the big screen. And a while before the Governator decides what comeback path to take.


Arnold Schwazrenegger returns to 'Terminator.' Is it a good idea?

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Arnold Schwarzenegger receiving a championship belt at an environmental conference in Los Angeles two weeks ago. Credit: Robyn Beck / AFP


Arnold returns to 'Terminator.' Is it a good idea?

April 26, 2011 |  7:06 pm

The news Tuesday that Arnold Schwarzenegger will return to the "Terminator" franchise provides a colorful coda to several story lines.

The new film, loosely dubbed "Terminator 5," is being shopped to studios. There is no script or screenwriter, but a person close to what Hollywood terms a film package, who asked not to be identified because of the early nature of the negotiations, confirmed that Creative Artists Agency has begun shopping the rights to make the movie, though with no plotline as yet. Schwarzenegger, the person said, would play a starring role as the title character in the science-fiction film, not a supporting role in which he passed the baton to a new hero. The movie would be directed by "Fast Five" director Justin Lin.

The package represents the latest twist in a tortuous business story. Early last year, Sony and Lionsgate joined forces to bid on the rights held by the Halcyon Co., the bankrupt "Terminator Salvation" producer. But, in a controversial decision, the rights were handed to the Santa Barbara hedge fund  Pacificor, which had backed Halcyon.

In May, Hollywood agency William Morris Endeavor announced it had been chosen by Pacificor to sell the rights to studios. But no sale materialized, and CAA replaced WME; CAA, which has long represented Schwarzenegger, held an obvious advantage: the clout to convince the actor to come back.

Tuesday's news raises nearly as many creative questions as it answers. The offshoot "Terminator Salvation," directed by McG, was roughed up by critics but pocketed $371 million worldwide. It was supposed to be the start of a new trilogy starring Sam Worthington. But the return of Arnold, and the fact that McG will not have a place on this film, means that the new Skynet saga could pick up the narrative trail of the third picture, 2003's "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," or start in yet another new direction. ("Machines" finished with Nick Stahl's John Connor and Claire Danes' Kate Brewster running from Schwarzenegger's Terminator, with all three still alive at movie's end.)

But perhaps the biggest point the news highlights involves Schwarzenegger's career direction. The 63-year-old former governor told The Times recently he's diving back into acting. "I can step very comfortably into the entertainment world and do an action movie with the same violence that I've always done," he said, predicting he'd be on a set by the end of the year.

At the time, some speculated he could star in the drug-themed action film "The Last Stand" or the prison-escape movie "The Tomb," both new properties and potential franchises. Those remain possibilities, especially with a script not yet written for "Terminator."

But it's clear Schwarzenegger also has the past on his mind. He's already signed on for a cartoon called "The Governator," featuring his voice and likeness. Now it looks as though he's intent not only riffing on past glories but reliving them.

It remains to be seen whether Schwarzenegger could take on the required stunts at his age, and whether a population that didn't think much of him as a governor wants to vote for him with their dollars at the box office. It would also be nearly 30 years since he first incarnated the Terminator role in the James Cameron original; there are few examples of an actor holding a lead film role for that long.

Still, the former governor would have precedent in a return to the screen. Both Jesse Ventura and Fred Thompson went back to acting once they said sayonara to their political careers. As Joe Klein said when we wrote last spring about Arnold's possible return to acting, "When politicians leave office, they almost always try to re-ingratiate themselves with the public they've inevitably disappointed. Acting would be a way for Schwarzenegger to restore himself in the eyes of the public."

-- Steven Zeitchik, with reporting by Ben Fritz




Hollywood wonders whether Arnold will be back

Arnold Schwarzenegger is looking for some action

Terminator rights given to Pacificor

Photo: "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines." Credit: Warner Bros.


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