During my San Diego Comic Con experience, I obtained quite a few news exclusives. Earlier I reported my Arnold and Stallone interviews from the red carpet and soon I'll reveal another big scoop. Today, however, I'll share with you some good CONAN news! At Comic Con I met with Fredrik Malmberg, President & Chief Executive Officer of Paradox Entertainment Inc. As many of you barbarians know, Paradox is the property holders of CONAN so they not only know what's best in life, they know exactly what's going on with Arnold's The Legend of Conan!
We were surrounded by thousands of superheroes and zombies and during this meeting, I also met with Jay Zetterberg of Paradox. It's time for the tales of high adventure with Fredrik and Jay! Pull up a throne with us NOW to hear the latest developments of The Legend of Conan!
TheArnoldFans: What's going on with Conan? What can you share about the latest developments?
Fredrick Malmberg: We're doing the script and it's by the whole 'Fast and the Furious' team, which is great for a power position of the studio because they're exteamily successful - it was the biggest movie and if anyone knows how to build a franchise, it is that team. It's Chris Morgan and Jeffery Kirschenbaum, the head of Universal. Arnold is very excited. It's just in the phase where it takes a lot of work to get the script just right.
TheArnoldFans: Is it depressing for you when you hear that Arnold is doing other films before Conan?
Malmberg: You mean like Terminator? In the movie industry, this happens all the time and nothing happens in the linear fashion like the rest of the world. Everything is relied upon talent such as a director, stars, finishing the script. Most often when everything is aligned, that movie goes first (T5, Maggie). You never who which will go first.
TheArnoldFans: Is The Legend of Conan 100% happening?
Malmberg: Oh, It's happening. We have a great story. Everyone loves it. This is a role that's perfect for him (Arnold) and he's very involved with the whole Universal team. It's the best team they have. Arnold has been very instrumental to being this together saying, 'We gotta make a good Conan!' I think if we do this right, we can do two more Conan movies right after. I think Game of Thrones also shows a huge interest in fantasy. I'm psyched about it.
TheArnoldFans: Have you considered any directors? Paul Verhoeven personally told me he's interested in directing Conan so have you thought already about potential directors?
Malmberg: A lot of directors, managers and agents have called on us and said 'my client is interested.' I mean there's a LOT of fans of both Arnold and Conan but we really want to wield the story first and THEN go to one of these directors. But we will have a great director for sure.
TheArnoldFans: Might we see any of the other original co-star cast come back?
Malmberg: There's Sven-Ole...he's a cool guy. I guess at this point, there's definitely some room for that but it has to make sense and it can't be cheesy. It has to be very believable and it's also crucial to Arnold that this is not too much of a throwback and yet it pays homage...it should pay some respect to the original movies but there has to be a real reason for it.
TheArnoldFans: The soul of Conan was perfectly captured by Basil Poledouris. Sadly he passed away years ago. Can we still bring in the essence of his music or reuse some of his recordings?
Malmberg: What we could do...Jay told me they found more of Basil's score. There's like another full hour of unreleased music. I didn't know he wrote more. As he was passing, they had a big outdoor concert in Spain with he music from Conan so he definitely has a big following and the score was fantastic. The question is, are you dating the movie by the same score? But I love that score. Everyone loves that score.
TheArnoldFans: Is there a budget in mind when writing the script?
Malmberg: With today's production values, we can probably do a lot more with what they were doing way back then. I mean we have seen what Peter Jackson has done. I think of course this is probably more grounded and less fantastical with less creatures and CG monsters. We want to have some of that fantastical world but we don't want it to become a complete fantasy because what really set Conan the Barbarian apart from all the other fantasy movies is that this feels like our prehistoric earth. Still, we want to make it full of splendor.
Artwork above by Samuel Garcia
TheArnoldFans: The Legend of Conan. What’s the meaning behind the film’s title?
Malmberg: The idea is that this takes place AFTER Conan has been king. But this is the legend of Conan where he has been gone and people say, 'do you remember the good ol' days when Conan was around?' And now it's time for him to come back. In the stories and you can also see it when he's sitting on the throne and the narration on that last scene of the movie..."with a troubled brow" ...you can tell he's not really happy being king. So, it's time for him to go out and do battle.
TheArnoldFans: Is this a stand-alone film or might it be a trilogy?
Malmberg: That's what we hope. In fact Arnold, judging by other classic actors like Eastwood who's in his 80s, he still looks badass. I think if this film is good and is well received, then I don't think we have to say NO to Arnold for several more movies. We can keep going forward, even after he ages.
TheArnoldFans: Do you prefer a Conan to have his grey beard or would he want this elder barbarian to be clean-shaven.
Malmberg: I like that scene of him when he has that beard when he's sitting on the throne. Maybe he has different looks throughout. When he's in battle and maybe he wants to be looking good when he's facing death? I like him with a beard. Whatever looks good on him and now they have much better beard make-up than they did in the 80s. I wouldn't mind too at that age maybe he has some tattoos? Whatever, now that's he's 25 or 30 years older in life.
Malmberg: He's so multi-dimensional as a character. You can't really say that he's all squeaky clean and good like Superman and he's not a badass killer guy; he has a very strong moral code. He's almost like a biker/Jesus. He's a threat to the establishment like he's a f***ing revolution, you know? At the same time he is an outlaw like a biker and he follows his biker code and he's like 'whatever you do to me, I’ll do twice back to you.'
TheArnoldFans: The fans demand Arnold in this role. He is Conan!
Malmberg: It's very funny because in the Conan comic books, I believe Arnold is in issue #1 or maybe it was issue 3. He's in an advertisement for bodybuilding trying to get you to pump up. And this is In a comic issue of Conan the Barbarian (before the film). It must have been in an issue that was in 1970 or 1971.
Artwork above by Stephane Piter
TheArnoldFans: Will this be a big team-up film? I’m worried that half of the screen time might go to Conan’s son or the latest teen heart-throb.
Malmberg: The idea for this particular film is that he will be the lead, a lot of people ask if we're going to introduce a son of Conan and passing the torch? The idea is to not. No, this is Conan's movie. This is Arnold's movie!
TheArnoldFans: Might this be the first Schwarzenegger movie to have a 3D treatment?
Malmberg: It's on the table and it's a big studio picture and a big event movie. I wouldn't rule it out but right now, all we're concentrating on is the story. It's a working machine with everyone and marketing people. The president over there at Universal Pictures is Jeffery Kirschenbaum, and he's one of the top two executive producers and he has a huge position there at Universal and he's always been a huge Conan fan. 'I want to make Conan,’ he's said many times. And it was Universal who launched the first film with Arnold. Now the constellation is aligning.
Earlier this year Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke to me about pumping up for his returning role to Conan!
Schwarzenegger: “Well, age doesn’t mean anything to me, because I work out every day. I work out twice a day, as a matter of fact. At night I work out with weights, and in the morning I do cardiovascular training. So for me, to get on the set and to swing the sword around again and to ride the horses and all those things doesn’t mean anything [does not scare me], because I feel like I did thirty years ago. So as long as I stay in shape, that’s the key thing, and to keep your body young. Even though you do feel the pain when you wipe out and when you do your fight scenes and you get more sore and the body doesn’t come back as quickly and all this . . . but just grind through it, you know? That’s what it’s all about!”