Arnold Schwarzenegger Picks Drama 'Cry Macho' for Big-Screen Return (Cannes)

6:52 PM PST 05/04/2011 by Gregg Kilday
SEBASTIEN NOGIER/AFP/Getty Images
Arnold Schwarzenegger

The former California governor, who also is attached to a "Terminator" package, will play a horse trainer in the film for "Godfather" producer Al Ruddy and "Lincoln Lawyer" director Brad Furman.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has zeroed in on the film that will mark his return to the big screen: Cry Macho, a drama about a down-on-his-luck horse trainer who is hired to kidnap a 9-year-old boy.

Al Ruddy, an Oscar winner for both The Godfather and Million Dollar Baby, will produce, while Brad Furman, who helmed the recent The Lincoln Lawyer, has been tapped to direct, with filming set to begin in September.

"I guarantee that you'll get another look at Arnold Schwarzenegger in this movie," Ruddy said. "Arnold always plays these big muscular guys, but there's a sweetness to Arnold in real life, and we want to bring that sweetness to the screen. Now that Brad's met with Arnold, he's convinced there's an accessibility and vulnerability there that he wants to bring out."

The project, which Ruddy has been nurturing for years, will be financed by Bill Block's QED International, which will begin offering it to international buyers in Cannes next week. Block will served as exec producer along with QED's Paul Hanson.

The deal, hammered out by the actor's reps at CAA, calls for Schwarzenegger to receive $12.5 million plus 25% of first-dollar gross. Ruddy and Schwarzenegger also will end up co-owning the negative on the film.

While the former governor also is attached to a Terminator package that is being offered to studios, with Macho, he is opting for a movie that is more a character study than a full-blown action piece -- although some action elements have been added to accommodate the star.

The film is based on the 1975 novel, Cry Macho, by N. Richard Nash, who also wrote the play The Rainmaker. Nash, who died in 2000, wrote the screenplay, which Ruddy has re-optioned over the years.

"I just would never let go of this one," Ruddy, 81, said. Actors ranging from Burt Lancaster to Pierce Brosnan have been interested in the lead role. And at one point, it looked as if Clint Eastwood might star in and direct.

Because he didn't want to lose control of the property, Ruddy said, he never took it to a studio but continued to look for ways to package it independently.

Schwarzenegger, 63, will play Mike, a once well-regarded horse trainer whose wife and son have died. His former boss makes him an over he can't refuse: $400,000 to kidnap the boss' trust fund son, who is living with the man's ex-wife in Mexico. But when Mike locates the boy, a real troublemaker, the ex-wife doesn't want the kid. But as Mike and the boy head back to the states, with the Federales are on their trail, they develop a father-son bond of their own.

"If it works, and I think it will," Ruddy said, "this could be a classic. There's an emotional line to the story that really works. At the end of the movie, I'm hoping audiences will be laughing and crying at the same time." 

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