Arnold Schwarzenegger has cast a larger-than-life-persona on screens big and small for decades, but in person – clad in a subdued tan suit and blue button-down shirt – he comes across as relaxed and less imposing than I’d imagined. It’s not until I peer down at his colorful striped socks and notice the giant skull ring he sports on his right hand, that I get the sense there’s a lively personality underneath the former California governor’s politician-approved garb. And when he starts talking about his new kids IP The Governator, it becomes clear that the 62-year-old celebrity has a sharp sense of humor and passion for the project.
Launching next year as a 52 x 26-minute TV series and then rolling into online, theatrical and consumer products, The Governator puts a fantastical twist on Schwarzenegger’s biographical details. The property’s main character, voiced by Schwarzenegger, is also the former governor of California and action movie hero. The twist? He leads a double life, acting as a solid family man and a superhero of sorts who foils evil plots being hatched around the globe with the help of four hip teens and a lot of gadgets that are oftentimes powered by green technology. As for why Schwarzenegger chose this project (produced by Andy Heyward’s A Squared Entertainment, Archie Comics and Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment) to mark his re-entry into the entertainment world, he says much of his life has been about working for kids whether through filmed entertainment or political office. Having grown up in a secure, supportive environment, he recognizes not all kids have had that luxury and wanted to make something that could empower them. So it’s The Governator’s supporting teen cast that invents the gadgets and ultimately defeat the various villains they encounter and not the adults in their lives.
Schwarzenegger’s been heavily involved with the bible creation, and says he spent countless hours with Stan Lee and the series’ writers outlining the “rules” for The Governator, defining his powers, past relationships and, tellingly, “what frustrated him most about his life as governor and what he couldn’t do that he now can.” And now that the series is underway and Heyward has started talking to potential toy and consumer products partners, Schwarzenegger says he’s going to maintain his oversight and involvement. “You have to be inside the game, rather than looking in from the outside. I’m not cash-poor. I didn’t do this for a check. I will do everything that I can to promote this.”
He’s also not worried about The Governator struggling to resonate with a target audience comprised largely of kids who were born after he stepped into office eight years ago and might not know the actor who headlined Hollywood hits The Terminator, True Lies and Kindergarten Cop. “What I bring is the icing on the cake. But the cake is the substance of the stories and characters created by Stan Lee. He created Spider-Man. There was no Arnold Schwarzenegger needed for that.”