Turns out you can teach the last action hero some new tricks. After a few years away from the action hero game, Arnold Schwarzenegger returns guns blazing in Netflix's new action comedy FUBAR, playing soon-to-be-retired CIA agent Luke Brunner, who discovers that his daughter, Emma (Monica Barbaro), is also in the spy game. As befitting modern-day production techniques, though, many of those guns were of the rubber variety.
"We used make-believe guns when there were stunts involved where people got hit with the gun or if we were far enough away from each other," Schwarzenegger tells Yahoo Entertainment. "We used the whole gamut of different guns, because with close-ups you can tell the real stuff from the fake stuff."
Watch our interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the FUBAR cast on YouTube:
That's a change from the action movies that the Austrian bodybuilder-turned-actor cut his teeth on in the '80s and '90s — from The Terminator to True Lies — where the gunplay would almost always involve practical guns that fired blank rounds. In recent years, though, more and more productions are using rubber guns or Airsoft pellet guns with the express approval of directors like John Wick's Chad Stahelski and stars like Dwayne Johnson.
According to Gabriel Luna — who plays Boro, the villain-in-the-making that Luke and Emma both have to pursue — FUBAR also employed rubber weapons and Airsoft guns when production started. "But we quickly realized that it was giving the post-production crew difficulty trying to track the gun fights," The Last of Us star explains. "That needs to be there for the reality of the scene. So we started with the more modern ways of doing things, but eventually reverted back to the tried and true practices always utilizing the highest levels of gun safety."
And Luna says that Schwarzenegger easily slipped back into his old-school ways once that change was made. "By the end of the shoot, he's walking in with a shotgun having pulled it out of a package of roses and is blasting it off. I'm looking at him do this, and he's not blinking at all. I was just like, 'This guy's obviously done this before.'"
Barbaro similarly enjoyed the experience of fighting alongside her onscreen dad, especially since it gave the breakout Top Gun: Maverick star the chance to flex her action muscles outside of the cockpit. "We were in jets throughout Top Gun, which wasn't easy, but this had the added challenge of learning something new every week," the actress says. "One week I'd be parkour-ing off of a car and the next I'd be crawling on top of a train! We also had an incredible stunt team and everybody was intensely safety-minded, which is part of the magic of actors doing their own stunts."
Certainly, tragedies like Brandon Lee's death while making The Crow and Halyna Hutchins's death during the production of Rust have led to increased safety measures on film sets, as well as renewed calls to cease using real firearms for feature films. For his part, Schwarzenegger bristles at some of the current safety precautions, insisting that safety always came part and parcel with his vintage action movies.
"It's all nonsense," he says when asked about present-day safety regulations versus the way sets operated in his action movie heyday. "The fact of the matter is that there were always safety precautions in place. But you can have all the laws and all the regulations in place, and if people don't follow them you have nothing. When you're dealing with cars or with weapons, you can get killed if you make a mistake. If you do stunt driving, you have to be very careful and you have to rehearse it and everyone has to play by the rules.
"That's exactly what we did on True Lies and we do the same thing on FUBAR," Schwarzenegger continues. "Every single day where we used weapons, they were shown to us. What's inside the barrel, what kind of ammunition was in there and what the magazine looked like. Over and over — it was absolutely like a school. And we didn't come close to an accident or anything like that."
FUBAR is currently streaming on Netflix.