In the heist thriller — which also stars Alex Pettyfer and Michael Shannon — Schwarzenegger plays a recent college graduate who can’t find work in a particularly unforgiving job market. He’s deep in student debt and out of options.
So he turns to his cousin (portrayed by Gilles Geary), who brings him into his get-rich-while-getting-back-at-the-rich scheme. Their group of disillusioned millennials, intent on breaking a system that favors the wealthy, use Chicago as their playground as they rob multi-million dollar homes, taking what they want and destroying what they don’t.
Though they carry out their frustrations in a way that could be described as a tad extreme, Schwarzenegger says the difficulty of finding jobs during a pandemic that’s left millions out of work is timelier than ever.
“It’s really mirroring what a lot of people are seeing today, especially in the climate of COVID,” Schwarzenegger said of his character’s struggle for employment amid economic crisis. “My little brother and all his friends just graduated University of Michigan, and now they all don’t have jobs. That’s not to say you can’t go to college and get an amazing job; I have a lot of friends that went to college with me that do have good jobs. But there’s the other side of the argument.”
“Echo Boomers,” from Saban Films, premieres in select theaters and on demand on Nov. 13. Ahead of its debut, Schwarzenegger spoke to Variety about how his parents Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver have influenced his work outside of entertainment and his true feelings about Twitter’s annual best Hollywood Chris debate.
What appealed to you about the script for “Echo Boomers”?
The fact that Michael Shannon was attached. After reading the script, I [thought] it could be fun. Some of the political commentary [shows] what’s happening in society today. And I’m a huge fan robbery and heist films.
What do you think that the movie gets right about the millennial generation? Are there any misconceptions?
It nails a lot of stuff. My character is honorable. He graduated college and had done everything the right way: getting great grades, studying his ass off, paying [college] tuition. And then he went out into the real world and couldn’t get a job.
There are parts of the economic gap that definitely hits the nail on the head even more today. I saw something the other day that said Jeff Bezos could pay all of his employees a $100,000 Christmas bonus and he would still be as rich as he was on March 1 before the pandemic. There’s a lot of different commentary in the movie.
Do you believe there should be a universal basic income?
I think that how the people in the movie go about it is obviously extremely wrong. However, I believe that everybody in the world, and in America, should have the right to earn a living wage. Putting in the time, effort, work and dedication, there’s no reason that anybody shouldn’t be able to be successful in terms of monetary value. The more interesting side of the dialogue is how we put this pressure on people to go to these top colleges. In exchange, they’re charging $50K to $60K a year. Most students can’t afford that. They’re going to have these large debts to have the same, or maybe a little slight opportunity more, than than others.
Have you always had strong feelings about these issues?
I’ve always felt pretty strongly about it. Besides film, I have my own business, Achilles Advisors. My goal in life is always to help other young entrepreneurs’ dreams come true. I’m very thankful for the situation that I’m in, and that my parents have put me in, and how hard they’ve worked in their lives. But of course, I’d be blind to not realize that I’m a different situation than others. Trying to utilize my platform to help other people is what I want to do. My dad came from as close to rags as possible. He had only a few dollars to his name, so I’m always reminded of where hard work can really get you. My family has done a lot of non-profit work. My dad started Arnold’s After School All Stars, which provides after school initiatives for people in low-income neighborhoods. I worked with them on other charitable organizations.
You’re clearly passionate about helping other people. Would you would ever run for office?
I just turned 27 a month ago. I have no idea. My passion lies in business and helping people in the business community. I do it for three main reasons: to make other people’s dreams come true, to create new jobs and to make money. If something happened down the road, sure. But right now, I’m really focused on continuing to learn and help people one-by-one through forms of business and entrepreneurialism.
What was it like working with Amy Poehler on the Netflix movie “Moxie”?
It was an amazing experience. Amy is a rock star, and it’s such an honor to work with her and Michael Shannon back-to-back. Amy Poehler had such a polar opposite film set, but just they’re both so talented.
Have you been on any film sets since the pandemic started?
No, I haven’t worked on a film since February. With COVID starting in March, there hasn’t really been much. Some people are back to work. My brother-in-law [Chris Pratt] is filming in Europe. He’s really one of the only people I know that’s actually working now.
What are you most looking forward to doing when the pandemic does eventually end?
Man, I’ll enjoy just hanging out with more friends. I’ll go to a movie theater and try to support local businesses.
Your dad recently underwent heart surgery. How’s he doing?
It takes some some time, but thank God he’s a million times better than [he was after] his last heart surgery. I’m super happy it went well. It’s scary with COVID happening too.
I don’t know if you were paying attention to the Twitter controversy the other week, but there were debates about who is the best Hollywood Chris — and people were calling your brother-in-law Chris Pratt the worst Hollywood Chris. What did you make of that?
It’s crazy. Twitter is a junkyard, right? I mean, every day there’s something. People are calling out this person or that person, or let’s get mad at this person. People are so focused on putting other people down to make themselves feel better. It’s sad, honestly. Chris is pretty strong-boned. I don’t think anything really hits him deep down. I messaged him, and just mostly was like, “I hope you’re not taking this seriously.” I don’t really know what else to say. I think he can learn a thing or two from my dad or my mom. My dad was always adamant about not letting anybody else’s opinions mess with his drive or where he wanted to go. No matter what you’re doing in life, there’s are always going be people hating on you and wanting you to fail.
Also, we could all probably benefit from being on Twitter less.
People are hating on people, no matter what. There’s always two ways to focus on anything in life: the positive and the negative. People that focus on the negative, it shows more about them as a person.