March 2002
Interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger : Politics in Pictures

Interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger : Politics in Pictures

The September 11th tragedy led to an appropriate delay for many action films set to release this fall. Pushing back the release date allowed a chance for reflection and evaluation. Since September 11th, the significance placed on this film delves beyond the categorization of “another Schwarzenegger flick.” Instead, this movie explores the definition of collateral damage and invites familiar political questions that history and current events struggle to answer. sat with Arnold Schwratzenegger to discuss these issues and the release of Collateral Damage.

AH: Can you tell me about the impact that September 11th had on the release of this film and the future of action film perceptions by audiences?

AS: You never know how events in the real world will affect films, but I feel that action movies have and may continue to do really well. We have seen other movies that have done well. I think a lot of people were concerned with Blackhawk Down, but it went through the roof even before being opened nationally. Also, after the terrorist attacks we’ve also seen the video rentals dealing with terrorism skyrocket. True Lies, Die Hard, - - are selling out. It became very clear that people want to see positive movies where the terrorists get their ass kicked in the end, there is a positive outcome because in real life its not as clear cut and we struggle to find those characters and we’ve done a great job, but its still not clear that is resolved. In movies, you can resolve things much quicker and get some satisfaction in a fantasy way.

AH: You get a lot of scripts like this, what made you take this one on?

AS: I have to blame my wife for this one. She got it from Steve Reuther. There was a time when I think Harrison Ford was attached to it. It became a very competitive thing for my wife, of course! She began chasing me around telling me to read this script. Reuther called to tell me that Harrison was not going to do the film because Harrison was committed to something else. Reuther wanted to see if I was available. So then I finally read it and the idea came up that I would play a firefighter.

AH: Originally, the role was intended to be a coach. What caused the change?

AS: When it was written, the role was to be a coach of some kind. But as we spoke more about changing it, I really began to love the film’s potential. I was very excited all through the project’s development. Interestingly, when we were considering the change of the role from coach to firefighter, there were questions raised as to whether or not he would be considered heroic. We considered making him a CIA guy or some other character I’ve played over and over again. They did not think, at that time, that a firefighter was heroic enough. Now everybody wants the credit! But the fact of the matter is, I think its very clear that firefighters are heroic guys. I think it worked better in the script.

AH: Tell me more about the character you play.

AS: He’s a character that has been saving lives all his life, and has had no history of taking a life. Then he meets up with a Columbian [“The Wolf”] who is willing to take life because of events that caused lives to be taken from him. This movie is not just about terrorism. It’s much more. It’s about collateral damage.

AH: What do you mean by “collateral damage?”

AS: Collateral damage – the innocent people, what happens to the innocent victims and what are our sensitivities to this. The hero finds himself transforming into his enemy and must consider the resulting collateral damage.

AH: How were you able to relate to this character?

AS: I can relate to family and am more in tuned with my emotions. Perhaps it’s easier for me now that I am older. I could not have said the same 20 year ago.

AH: What can we look forward to next?

AS: We start shooting T3 [“Terminator 3”] April 15th. It should be pretty exciting. I believe King Kong is being re-written, but should also prove to be interesting as well.