Arnold Schwarzenegger is a colossal man with colossal talent. Hes an actor, producer, businessman, investor, author, philanthropist, activist, legislator 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 ground. I first satisfied the Arnold back in 2015 when we started work on a movie called Aftermath . The movie is not your typical Schwarzenegger movie. Its inspired by real events. An intimate examine of loss and misfortune. Its a film about impression not an action movie where hes playing a human wielding a sword or a cyborg. Theres no get to da choppa line. Theres only impression and that was the anomaly. I thought the script was so unusual and thats 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. Hes a brilliant politician. Hes warm and gracious and instantly sets 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. Hes proud of his past and so he should be. We talked about all the different roles hes played. He felt the film was very important to him because of the depth of impression of the character and he told me he wanted to explore that part of his acting. He embraced it. In all his movies, hes indestructible. Whereas this movie brings him down to his knees. I said to him: Youve been Conan and all these different characters, but if you show up to set like that, “youre willing to” crush the movie. You be the actor and you have to let me be the director and we are going to have a wonderful hour. He said: I like that and every day well have victory and we drink schnapps. And in that moment I gained his respect.

This man could be every indie directors darling.

When you get to 70 and youve done everything, there are only a few still willing to challenge themselves in the extreme style that he does. Its a little reminiscent of the Clint Eastwood Renaissance man. Hes an immensely sensitive and in-tune man. I wasnt prepared for what I get. Hes incredibly studied and runs extremely hard as an actor. He takes great input in his wardrobe and even went to the extent of visiting all of the locations route before we started shooting. Its like an osmosis for him, getting a sense of where the character lives and how he likes to dress. I never heard the word no from him. It was never a example of I need to look better in this scene he didnt have that ego. He was invested in the character always the first one on situate. If you needed him, he was there. Good performers are like musical instruments. You need them to be present so you can play them.

These types of movies rarely get made. Its very dense and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Theres simply grief. The challenge with the script was how to make it come alive as a movie. Its based on events from Russia about a real life mid-air aircraft collision. A German Tv movie was made about it, but novelist Javier Gulln wanted to do an impressionistic version of those events. He wanted to enthuse it with his own poetic license.

Arnold was an exceptional choice for the role. And he espoused it. I believe the way he has lived his life is if he wants to do something he does it. He has a vision of how he should live his life and he follows it. Its a lesson for us all.

Lionsgate Premiere