Over his multi-decade career, Arnold Schwarzenegger has done it all on the big screen.
The actor has portrayed a cop, a supervillain, a terminator, a teacher, a commando, and even a prince. But of all his roles, his newest one might be the most emotional—and serious—that he’s ever taken on.
Schwarzenegger’s latest release, the Elliott Lester-directed Aftermath, doesn't have the massive explosions, badass action, and lurking aliens that usually appear in his action-movie repertoire—but that’s by design, because this time around Schwarzenegger’s at the center of a devastating family tragedy.
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) April 7, 2017
The film, which is adapted from a true story, follows Schwarzenegger’s construction foreman, Roman, as he deals with the aftermath of a plane crash that killed his wife and child.
The incident happens after an air traffic controller played by Scoot McNairy (Argo, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) makes a mistake while on duty. After the air traffic controller is cleared of any wrongdoing, Roman still blames him for the crash. Eventually, the two come face-to-face and must deal with the reality of the cataclysm that has irrevocably changed their lives.
Aftermath gives Schwarzenegger the chance to stretch his dramatic chops, and going toe-to-toe with a solid actor like McNairy gives the movie an added dose of tension and drama. Lester had plenty of praise for his cast, and said that the experience making the movie with Schwarzenegger was an important moment for him.
"As a filmmaker, you take this journey with Arnold, and you realize that he’s working harder than you can ever work, and he is dedicated to this more than anybody," says Lester. "When you’re watching Arnold, at times you’re lost in Roman Melnyk—and being lost in Roman Melnyk takes an enormous amount of skill, whoever you are as an actor. And that was kind of a gentle surprise. I asked him once, 'Why now? Why at age 68 are you deciding to do drama, and show this side of you?' And Arnold said to me, 'I was so busy being the biggest action star in the world, and then Governor of California, that it just wasn’t there.'"
"We all know F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous quote that there are no second acts in American lives," Lester added. "Well, I think this absolutely is the second act in Arnold’s acting life, and I’m just grateful to be part of that journey."
Even though Schwarzenegger is pushing 70—hard to believe, given how good he looks these days—he isn’t slowing down in his career, on the big screen and off. Schwarzenegger continues to work for charitable causes like after-school programs and child education, and he has a number of film projects coming up, too.
Although (sadly) it looks like he will not be appearing in Shane Black’s reboot/sequel of The Predator, and may not continue in the Expendables franchise if friend Sylvester Stallone is pushed out, Schwarzenegger is set for the action-comedy Why We’re Killing Gunther, alongside Taran Killam (previously of SNL, who also is directing) and Cobie Smulders (Avengers: Age of Ultron) and the Twins sequel Triplets, which he hopes will start shooting in late 2017.
Aftermath, starring Schwarzenegger, McNairy, Martin Donovan, Maggie Grace, and Hannah Ware, is now out in theaters and is available on VOD.