Elliott Lester tells us what it's like to direct Mr Schwarzenegger

He is unbelievably funny and one of the smartest men I’ve ever met. His motivation would put anyone to shame.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a colossal man with colossal talent. He’s an actor, producer, businessman, investor, author, philanthropist, activist, politician and former professional bodybuilder. And he is my friend. In fact, I like him so much I bought him Pygmy goats. We laugh about that now. He has a great sense of humor and is very down to earth. I first met the Arnold back in 2015 when we started work on a movie called Aftermath. The movie is not your typical Schwarzenegger movie. It’s inspired by real events. An intimate study of loss and tragedy. It’s a movie about feeling ― not an action movie where he’s playing a man wielding a sword or a cyborg. There’s no ‘get to da choppa’ line. There’s just feeling and that was the anomaly. I thought the script was so unusual and that’s what you search for as a director, something unique. And working on this movie was a fantastically unique opportunity.

Meeting Arnold for the first time was disarming. He’s a brilliant politician. He’s warm and gracious and instantly puts you at ease. He turned his back on politics in 2010 and has been looking to rebuild his acting career. I was happy to help him on that journey.

We started talking about his history. He’s proud of his past and so he should be. We talked about all the different roles he’s played. He felt the film was very important to him because of the depth of feeling of the character and he told me he wanted to explore that part of his acting. He embraced it. In all his movies, he’s indestructible. Whereas this movie brings him down to his knees. I said to him: “You’ve been Conan and all these different characters, but if you show up to set like that, you are going to crush the film. You be the actor and you have to let me be the director and we are going to have a wonderful time.” He said: “I like that ― and every day we’ll have victory and we drink schnapps.” And in that moment ― I gained his respect.



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