Arnold Schwarzenegger is back and kicking ass in the new film The Last Stand, and here at Screen Rant, we’ve been all over the return of the action legend. Earlier in the week, we shared a report from the set of The Last Stand. And today, we have an interview with Andy Knauer, the screenwriter who gave Arnold his all-important comeback role.
Read on for our interview with Knauer to learn how The Last Stand came together, his thoughts on the best Arnold movies, and what director Kim Ji-woon brought to the table in his first American film.
Screen Rant: Arnold Schwarzenegger, the greatest action star of our generation, is making his big return to acting in your film. Not bad for your first produced screenplay. Tell us how you came up with the idea for The Last Stand?
Andy Knauer: Yeah. It’s going to be hard to top this one. Most of my favorite films are action movies, to the point where, without realizing it, I sort of became a student of the genre. My dad took me to see ‘Die Hard’ when I was about ten years old. It was perfect. I remember where we sat in the theater, I remember thinking “I don’t want this to end.” That was probably when the seed got planted.
[As for the story, it] originated with the car. What if a really skilled driver was in an unstoppable car? Everybody knows the tactics that the police use to stop car chases, so what if he had the resources to out maneuver them? That was the genesis of the story. I firmly believe that action movies live and die with the antagonist. It’s the motivations of the antagonist that drive the film, in this case literally. Whenever I sit down to think of an idea for an action movie, I try to see it in terms of the antagonist.
SR: When did Arnold become attached to the film and how did that change the direction of your original script?
AK: My work on the project was already finished by the time he came on board. One or two other writers had already done passes by then as well. In all honesty, Arnold’s involvement didn’t bring too many changes to the script. Obviously, there were some changes made to his character, but the story remained pretty much the same. That being said, he was the reason we were green lit, so in that respect, he changed it quite a bit. It was a script before Arnold, it was a movie after him.
SR: In his recent Reddit AMA, Arnold said that his favorite line from The Last Stand was “You f*cked up my day off.” Please tell me you were the guy that wrote that line?
AK: I wish I could take credit for that line. No, that was somebody else.
SR: For most children of the 1980s and 1990s, Schwarzenegger’s movies were pretty influential. What’s your all-time favorite Arnold movie? For me, it has to be Terminator 2, but Predator is a strong number two.
AK: ‘Predator’ is my number one. No question about it. 1987, I was going to summer camp and the counselors made us put on a play for the other kids. We had to decide what we were going to do and some kid genius nominated ‘Predator.’ I played the roll of Mac. I like to think Bill Duke would have approved of my performance. But it’s not like there’s a big drop off after ‘Predator.’ Both [‘Terminator’ films] are awesome, I’d rank them 2 and 2a. ‘Running Man’ and ‘Total Recall’ are great, too. So is ‘Red Heat.’ A lot of people sleep on ‘Red Heat,’ watch it again. ‘Red Heat’ is solid.
SR: Until you get a director, a screenplay is just words on a page. So getting Kim Ji-woon was a pretty lucky break. What did Ji-woon bring to the film? Did the fact that this was his first American language film cause any problems?
AK: The language barrier wasn’t an issue. He has a translator and the DP, Ji-yong Kim is Korean as well. I think there was some adjusting on his part to how things work in Hollywood compared to how things work in Korea. He likes to improvise and try out new ideas on the fly, but he had to run everything past the producers and the studio before he could do that here. He has a lot more freedom in Korea to do whatever he wants.
It’s impossible to measure what Director Kim brought to the film. He did it all. He’s a terrific director and I’m extremely fortunate that he chose my script to introduce himself to American audiences. I hope people will find a way to see some of his Korean films because they are excellent as well.
SR: Without spoiling too much – what’s your favorite scene in the film?
AK: Probably when they deputize Johnny Knoxville’s character. Basically his whole existence was spent preparing for that moment and now, because of this absurdly crazy situation, he actually gets to be a part of the action.
SR: Selling a script is next to impossible and getting your screenplay produced is even harder, so this has to feel pretty good. What projects do you have lined up next?
AK: I have a couple things in the pipeline, as they say. Not sure how much I’m allowed to say about them though, so I’ll play it safe and plug a movie I co-wrote that’s premiering at Slamdance. It’s called ‘Ghost Team One.’ It’s a comedy version of ‘Paranormal Activity,’ but it’s not a spoof. It stands on its own. If you like funny you’ll love ‘Ghost Team One.’ If you like d**k jokes, congratulations you have a new favorite movie.
The Last Stand hits theaters this weekend.