Patrick Schwarzenegger (yes the son of that guy) stars in Daniel Isn’t Real, a horror movie that has been faring well on a lot of people’s “Best of 2019” movie lists. It’s now available On Demand and Digital.
In one way, it deals with a lot of genuine mental health issues and in another, it is a supernatural psychological thriller about the trappings of schizophrenia.
Schwarzenegger plays the titular character in this movie from Director Adam Egypt Mortimer.
Daniel takes on a physical form for the downtrodden Luke (Miles Robbins) and talks him into coming out of his shell, but those growing pains come at a cost.
Schwarzenegger’s performance is menacing. Daniel is malevolent and reckless and puts Luke in danger. But is he real or is his presence a conjured up byproduct of ailing mental health?
We talked to Schwarzenegger about the theme of the film, what motivated him and what he hopes people will get out of it. We also answer the question for those wondering if that is indeed his bare rear-end on film and other important things.
There are some spoilers ahead so read at your own risk:
iHorror: I’m curious were you allowed to watch horror movies as a kid?
Patrick Schwarzenegger: Um…I remember seeing some, and I remember seeing some of my dad’s movies that were rated R. But I think that a movie like this is something that touches on some deep subject matter that kids probably wouldn’t understand fully. But it’s something that the idea of mental health needs to be talked about with people of all ages–an understanding of what it is.
iHorror: What do you think about how the movie handled mental health and depression?
Patrick: First off, I think it does a great job of using film as the medium to bring out the idea and the subject of mental health, showing the negative and dark sides of it. It needs to be shown because it shows that to Luke’s character, Daniel, which embodies the idea of mental health and that toxic masculinity is very real.
I mean he’s there; he’s existing in front of him and that voice is not just a voice but a physical presence and then to other people it’s just, you know, nothing. It’s that Luke, Miles’ character, is crazy, that he’s someone they don’t want to be around. Which is kind of what happens in our society.
I mean to one person they might be mentally sick and have these voices in their head and people around them and then other people think, ‘oh that person is crazy, get them away from me, I don’t want to deal with them. I don’t want to talk about it,” anything like that. What can be so real to someone and be nothing to another person.”
What about that ending?
Patrick: The end is the end and you realize that this voice was so strong in his head he had to do whatever it would take to save himself from that and harming other people. Then it kind of leads off for me to go into the next person’s head which if you think about how many people going through it and die, and then it just goes into another person’s brain. It’s just never-ending unless we really talk about it or find ways to help it.
Your character is very evil, what inspired you to play him the way that you did? Have you ever suffered through depression?
You know I never have. I’ve gone through sadder times or darker times in my life than other days but never through depression.
For my character he wasn’t playing depressed, he wasn’t playing anything like that. He was supposed to embody the idea of totally contrasting the dichotomy of the other character and be the voice that is completely opposite, egging on this menacing side of him.
What we view as something in the beginning of the movie that’s great–that’s good; he’s egging him on to get girls, and drink and become a man and get in fights. But that’s all the embodiment of toxic masculinity of what society views as masculine and manly, but it’s all wrong.
I’ve never been depressed and this character isn’t supposed to be there to be that depression, he’s supposed to be the idea of how there can be a voice in your head so polarizing and different and it can be just so real and convincing.
The nude scene, was that you?
Yeah that was me.
How did you feel about doing that, had you ever done that before?
Patrick: No. With film when you’re playing a character in a movie, it’s just what you sign up for. If you have a role, a character and you’re kissing another person or having to punch someone or you’re having to say terrible things, those are all part of a character—it’s not Patrick—it’s the character and that’s what you have to do.
I didn’t really care [about doing the nude scene]. You know, he [Director Adam Egypt Mortimer] said do you mind? I said look, I’m totally fine as long as the girl’s comfortable and she’s fine with it, then I’m cool.
I don’t care is someone sees my butt.
This film is on a lot of “Best of 2019” lists, what do you hope audiences take away from it?
First off, I hope that they enjoyed the film, that they like it aesthetically, cinematically, the storyline.
You know, it brings an original idea from an aspiring filmmaker that’s made one movie and is continuing his career, so I hope they recognize that. This is a small independent film that’s getting brought to the theaters and stuff. And I hope that they just take a moment in the day and maybe just check in with someone.
With mental health and stuff like this you never know who is going through it, you never know if it’s that Patrick Bateman [American Psycho] who has a perfect suit, slick-backed hair, in shape and working in New York City with a beautiful apartment. And you don’t know if it’s a person like Luke that’s struggling at school and has no friends and is lonely. It comes in all shapes, sizes and forms, just be mindful of other people; you just never know what other people are going through.
What is on the horizon for you?
A bunch of things. I filmed a new psychological thriller called Warning this year and I filmed a new feature film that Michael Shannon produced and starred in called Echo Boomers and that will be out in 2020. And another movie I’m filming right now called Moxie, which Amy Poehler writing, directing and starring in for Netflix. So, I’ve got a few things coming up for this next year and I’m excited to get them out there.