By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist April 8, 2011 at 12:57PM
Limited by a two-term limit as governor, his inability to run for President (due to being born in Austria), and the fact that he fucked up the California economy royally, legendary action star Arnold Schwarzenegger's flirtation with politics seemed to come to an end at the start of this year. But as one of the few actors recognizable by his first name alone, and boosted by a cameo in last year's "The Expendables," even an eight-year gap between starring roles ("Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" being the last) wasn't going to prevent Arnie from being courted by the studios.
The first word was that he might be returning to Randall Wallace's WW2 epic "With Wings As Eagles," a project he's been interested in for more than a decade, and while rumors of returns to the "Terminator" and "Predator" franchises have been circulating, he announced one firm project last week -- the miserable-looking cartoon vanity project "The Governator." But now, word is circulating that the actor's also considering a pair of live-action projects, both firmly within his wheelhouse, although one is far, far more intriguing than the other.
Variety reports that Schwarzenegger is in discussions for a pair of projects. One sounds like the kind of low-rent fare that made up the bulk of his career -- a project called "The Tomb" at Summit that Antoine Fuqua is attached to direct. The script, by Miles Chapman ("Road House 2." Yes, there was a "Road House 2") and Jason Keller ("Machine Gun Preacher"), follows a security expert who designed an inescapable, high-tech prison, only to be framed for a crime and locked up in it. Other than the fact that we're convinced we've already seen that movie, it's not hugely promising -- Fuqua's unreliable quality-wise, to say the least -- but there's said to be mutual interest in the project.
However, there's one major obstacle -- Fuqua's currently prepping his long-in-the-offing Tupac Shakur biopic, which is meant to shoot in the summer. Assuming he stays on board both projects, it means that the film would be unlikely to get before cameras this year, so Arnie may find himself losing interest in the meantime, or at least taking on another project. Fortunately, there's another film in the works that looks like it might sneak in beforehand.
Variety confirms what /Film and Movieweb had already reported -- namely, that Schwarzenegger is eyeing an action-thriller at Lionsgate called "Last Stand." Excitingly, the project has Korean helmer Ji-Woon Kim attached to direct. Kim's already been behind the likes of "A Bittersweet Life" and "The Good, The Bad & The Weird," and was behind one of the cinematic highlights of the year so far, in the form of grisly revenge thriller "I Saw The Devil" -- he's one of the most talented action directors out there right now, and it's an unexpectedly bold move for Schwarzenegger to be interested in working with him, considering the ranks of directors, James Cameron aside, he tended to team with.
The film, which Liam Neeson was attached to until he bailed in favor of a break and "Taken 2," is from a script by first-time writer Andrew Knauer and veteran Jeffrey Nachmanoff ("Traitor"), and follows a small-town sheriff trying to stop a drug-cartel leader who has just busted out of prison, so it somehow seems a better fit for the now 63-year-old actor. Talks seem to be further advanced, with Schwarzenegger's camp having seemingly received a firm offer from Lionsgate, although there remains one potential stumbling block, in that Schwarzenegger hasn't yet met the director -- and as Wayne Kramer learned this week, if your aging action star lead takes a dislike to you, it's not him that they'll replace.
Kim explained to us when we talked to him a while back that the film was likely to be a more optimistic picture than the near-nihilistic serial killer flick he last made saying, "If "I Saw The Devil" was a film about having someone who was not able to protect what he needed to, this film would be about people protecting something that they fight to the death to do so. In that regard, it’s a more upward looking film." We hope that Schwarzenegger does sign on here -- it's certainly a much more promising project than "The Tomb" -- but time, as ever, will tell.