Arnold Schwarzenegger still radiates star power. The action hero and former governor stars in “Maggie,” a father-daughter story that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival Wednesday night. The Terminator appeared on the red carpet at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Centre to promote the film and attracted a heavy continent of paparazzi and star struck fans.
Arnold flew in from CinemaCon in Las Vegas, where the previous day, dressed in a “Terminator”-style black biker jacket, shades and jeans, he promoted his own appearance in “Terminator Genisys,” the reboot of the long-running franchise he made famous.
But for the premiere of “Maggie,” an indie film shot in Louisiana that took 25 days to shoot and had a budget of six million, Schwarzenegger was dressed much more subdued in a dark tailored suit.
“Maggie” also stars Joely Richardson and Abigail Breslin, and director Henry Hobson makes his feature film debut.
On the red carpet, producer Matthew Baer described “Maggie” as “an emotional father-daughter story.” He added, “It’s about a child (Breslin) who gets a disease, and the disease is going to end her life. That disease happens to cause her to turn into a zombie. The father is very protective of his daughter and faced with a quandary, which is his daughter is going to die, but she if continues dying she will then become a problem for her family, and for others.”
He added that the film is an intimate character study of the lengths a father will go to protect his daughter.
Since I didn’t get anywhere near the Terminator – although a sexy journalist with cleavage managed to nab him on the red carpet for a five-minute selfie – my mind wandered to thoughts of a press release I received that morning about another variation of the zombie genre film, called “Zombeavers.” It’s about killer zombie beavers that try to eat three college girls while they are on a “carefree vacation of drinking games, topless sunbathing and sexual exploration.”
But I digress. Back to the red carpet of “Maggie,” where normally sedate New Yorkers went wild behind the barricades and desperate journalists yelled out in German, all for the Terminator.
I did manage to speak to the director, who told me that compared to Arnold’s action films, “Maggie” is a much slower film about the human side of the zombie virus. “So there are no helicopters, no machine guns, no fighter jets.”
Hobson added, “For me, Arnold, we know him as this big protector, like if you were to call on one action hero to come around and save you in a time of emergency, you’d call someone like Arnold. And so to use that strength almost against him, and to show what would happen if he didn’t have any of that, he hadn’t succeeded in protecting his family. I thought, there’s something really exciting about stripping that away.”
Hobson noted, “He shows a really vulnerable side. He breaks down and cries within the film. By using the fact that he’s a father, what would he do if his daughter were going through something like this? Yes!”
From the film’s trailer, it looks like Schwarzenegger is doing some challenging acting, at least more than he’s called on to do in his action films. “I’ve seen certainly in recent films since he’s finished being governor, you can see the flashes. You can see that he’s not used in the right way. They’re traditional kind of action films,” Hobson said. “With ‘Maggie,’ it’s about let’s use the abilities that we see in the right way.”
I asked if Schwarzenegger was onboard for the small film from the beginning. “Pretty much. It took a bit of arm twisting but pretty much,” Hobson said.