Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin in ‘Maggie’

As part of the Tribeca Film Festival, “Maggie” cast members Arnold Schwarzenegger and Joely Richardson, along with director Henry Hobson, were in New York at the Waldorf Towers to discuss their new film. In it, a virus has broken out and the afflicted become zombies. With a virus that has seemingly no cure and is so reflected of disease control in the 21st century, The Film Strip asked Schwarzeneger how “Maggie” deals with its post-apocalyptic scenario? “The solution here was to quarantine people and get rid of them to reduce the problem of spreading the virus,” he tells me. “The character I play could not stop my daughter from dying.”

And Schwarzenegger’s pain, as opposed to the physical trauma he experienced in the “Terminator” movies, was more intense. “It’s very draining,” he pointed out. “The brain takes much more energy than the body does. When I was in the governor’s office [in California], I was totally wiped out in the evening with all the  responsibilities—the same as here. It’s tough, but at the same time, it’s not tough because you feel so great doing it, and have a passion. This is not the typical zombie movie.”

The cast had no qualms taking on a new director. “Henry had a vision,” Richardson said. “Some people can have visions, but then they really don’t know how to follow through with their visions. He gave us all very specific notes on exactly what he wanted. He had the balls; if he didn’t like what Arnold, Abigail  Breslin or I was doing, tell us how he wanted it. That takes courage so we’re thankful for him.”

Schwarzenegger is grateful for “Maggie” and the role he plays. “This is very different than the ‘Terminator,’ which is an action movie,” he noted. “This is a dramatic piece. It’s the most human character I’ve ever played. This movie focuses on people and the dilemma my character is in. The strong father that can handle anything. All of a sudden he’s challenged and becomes very vulnerable.

“So this is what appealed to me in the first place. It was easy to get into that character and I visualized my own daughter. Abgail was so good, she made it real. I never felt she was acting. I always felt she was dying, that’s how skilled she was. Whatever performance I turned in I have to credit the people around me. They acted so well that it brought out the best in me.”

Recalling his past projects, Schwarzenegger believes they prepared him for this film. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this role 25 years ago, and having been a father for the past 25 years really made it possible,” he stated. “Back then I was chasing movies, trying to reach the point where I was the highest paid actor. I’ve made a lot of money and I’m in a different place now. So when I get an offer to do ‘Terminator 5,’ I’m very excited about that. But I’m also excited when I read a script like ‘Maggie’ if I believe I can be that character.  So I’m moving towards more dramatic roles.”

“Maggie” opens in theaters May 8.

Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]