You can’t exactly blame Arnold Schwarzenegger for wanting to return to the franchises that made him a star over the course of decades. Like Sylvester Stallone and Rocky or Rambo, Schwarzenegger knows that it’s the Terminator and Conan fans out there that made him into an international superstar. And if he has his way, Schwarzenegger would like to return to the world of Conan one last time before he’s done.
The actor and former California governor hasn’t been shy in recent years about his desire to play “the barbarian” again, as Conan grapples with his twilight years. The so-called “old man Conan” project has had various potential titles, including The Legend of Conan or Conan the Conqueror, but none of them have advanced into production. As recently as a month ago, Schwarzenegger said “it’s a movie that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Let’s do it.”
Now, speaking with fan site The Arnold Fans, Schwarzenegger went into more depth on what is holding another Conan film back. Unsurprisingly, it has to do with the rights to the character and the Robert E. Howard estate. Says Schwarzenegger:
“When it comes to the movie, the sad stuff about all of this is when there’s an estate like this … The Robert E. Howard estate … when someone buys these rights, those people now own the rights and they have their own vision of what they want to do and the guy that has the rights is some young guy and he’s trying to figure out how to get his way through Hollywood and this is not easy to do,” Arnold told the site. “So there are people that say to him, ‘Why don’t you start with a TV series?’ and then he negotiates for a TV series and that falls apart. And then he goes maybe to Netflix and that falls apart. Then he decides to make a movie maybe.”
“But in the meantime, we have been trying to convince him for years now that the way to go is to come back and hire a really great director and to do another Conan movie and have me play King Conan, when Conan is like 70 years old and he’s disgusted by sitting on the throne and being the king and then something happens after that. It’s really not that far from creating a finished script. The only one who really has to pull the trigger there is the people who own the Conan rights to do a movie. Let’s go to Netflix or whoever it is, let’s hire a director who’s very creative and can elevate the project to make it a winning project.”
So there you have it: Arnold wants to play a faded, (but still dangerous) 70-year-old King Conan, who faces the threat of being deposed by younger, stronger challengers, much like an old lion being displaced from the head of a pride. It sounds like a fun way to bring the Conan mythos full-circle, certainly. And you can’t help but laugh at a sentence like “He’s disgusted by sitting on the throne and being the king, and then something happens after that.” If there’s a more Arnold-esque summation of a film’s plot than “something happens after that,” we haven’t yet heard it.
Of course, this is a project that would have to get going sooner rather than later. Schwarzenegger is now 71 years old in real life, and even with the magic of Hollywood CGI and de-aging, you’ve got to figure he could really only pull off this role for a few more years. If they let another five years pass before attempting it, he could come off looking like the decrepit “Cohen the Barbarian” from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series of novels.
Let’s hope Schwarzenegger gets his wish, and we get to see what his vision of old man Conan might look like.