Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest movie role is a far stretch from his typical larger-than-life action hero gig. In Maggie, a post-apocalyptic drama helmed by first-time director Henry Hobson, Schwarzenegger plays a small-town farmer and doting dad eager to protect his daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin) from succumbing to a highly contagious zombie virus that has plagued the world.
The role portrays a softer side to the tough guy we’ve watched throughout Schwarzenegger’s film career, and the former bodybuilder admits that he faced his fair share of obstacles.
“It was always important to keep that father-daughter relationship, to keep that love and play that out—the unconditional love,” Schwarzenegger told DuJour. “Under normal circumstances, she should have been quarantined, but as her father I could not let that happen. Therefore, I protected her as much as I could. That was always the challenge, to make that as believable as possible.”
On screen, Schwarzenegger was faced with the daunting task of shielding his infected daughter from inevitable tragedy. It was his off-screen life as a dad, however, that helped him get into the mindset of such an emotional and grief-stricken character.
“I would not have been able to do this [role] 25 years ago,” Schwarzenegger told DuJour. “Being a father for the past 25 years really made it possible for me to totally understand what it’s like to have this situation happen.”
Originally screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, Maggie hits national theaters in the U.S. on May 8.