Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was all set for a grand return to movies – then news of his affair and son with another woman came out and seemingly slammed the brakes on those plans. Or did they? Apparently, Schwarzenegger is ready to see how the world views him in light of his pending divorce from Maria Shriver – and the test project will be Lionsgate’s Last Stand.
Deadline got the exclusive scoop and says the Governator will star in the western, which marks the English-language film debut of Korean filmmaker Kim-ji Woon. Schwarzenegger was interested in the role at one point, but backed out – which paved the way for Liam Neeson to take over. Unfortunately, Neeson’s packed schedule eventually forced the studio to look for another lead – and Arnold swooped back in and took the part.
Schwarzenegger will be working for less than he’s used to – and less than the $12.5 million salary he’s getting to do Cry Macho. One suspects that after his recent publicity hit, Ah-nold should be happy to be working at all.
Lionsgate seems undaunted by Schwarzenegger’s personal scandal, insisting the actor is perfect for the part. An exec tells Deadline, “It's an old-fashioned Western specifically designed for a 63-year-old broken-down guy with a moral decision whether Arnold decides to stand up for his town. We always needed an iconic figure for it."
They’ve now landed their iconic figure – and are taking a $30 million dollar gamble that audiences won’t care that the actor slept with another woman and kept the illegitimate child they had a secret for roughly a decade. When asked if he thought the scandal would hurt Arnold’s career, the exec responded with “I can tell you from The Expendables it was electrifying when Arnold came on. He is still a big piece of news."
There’s no arguing that Schwarzenegger is a “big piece of news” at this point – the question is, can he still open a movie? We’ll find out when Last Stand hits theaters – presumably some time next year.