Franco Columbu (Director - 'Ancient Warriors')
'The Warrior Returns'
Franco Columbu has appeared in and produced many action films in his career, including 'Beretta's Island,' 'Doublecross' and infamously 'The Terminator' alongside his good, longtime buddy, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Columbu has also won all the major bodybuilding and powerlifting titles in the world, including Mr. Olympia twice. He is also a Doctor of Chiropractic with a Ph.D. in Nutrition and an expert in Sports Medicine and Kinesiology.
In his latest movie, 'Ancient Warriors,' he plays Aldo, the former leader of a Delta Strike Team and a father trying to save his town and his family. Chatting with the man himself, I broke the subject catagories down and began plotting my own verbal plan of attack:
'Ancient Warriors' Questions:
Where exactly was 'Ancient Warriors' filmed, how long was the shoot, and were there any troubles that you encountered on set with regard the locations and such? "'Ancient Warriors' was shot on the Italian Island of Sardinia. The mines scene were shot in actual silver mines which are 30 km of tunnels and form in the town of Iglesias. The shoot took about 3 months and one of the problems we encountered was finding stuntmen that would jump the 60 feet cliff dive. Eventually we found somebody, but it did not go so easy."
What did you think to the storyline for this movie when you first read it and were there any other working titles? "I loved the fact that it could all be shot on location in Sardinia and especially in the Silver mines. We did not have any other title that was a contender, so as soon as 'Ancient Warriors' came about, we knew it was the one."
With the first "fat joke" aimed at Daniel Baldwin coming in on 37 mins, I'm wondering if that was an on-set joke he had running?! "Yes, it was!"
And talking of Daniel, on 8 mins when he's walking down the cliff face away from you he seems to stumble by a bush and nearly tumble over ... was this real or fake?! "That was totally real as the mountain was steep and the gravel was loose and Daniel is a big man!"
For you, what was the hardest part of doing this movie ... and what was the most rewarding? "Being the producer as well as having a starring role in the film, meant I was on double duty all the time. There was never a moment of rest and I felt drained at times. The most rewarding part was obviously finishing the film and looking at the result. I felt very proud."
What was it like working with the great Richard Lynch and how did he feel about having to "cough" his way through the whole film?! "Richard is a great man and a fantastic actor. He kept on saying that the part was written just for him. We couldn't agree more, he was perfect."
Were there any ad-libed scenes? "No."
Was the girl who played your daughter really handicapped? "No, Ashley is just a good young actress."
It seems the character of Kim Barnes was modeled after that of Jennifer Garner ('Alias') ... was this intentional? "No, the character Kim Barnes came about long before 'Alias'."
In the scene where Crunch looks through the binoculars at the submarine, some of the right hand side of what he sees is "blurred out" with a bar ... why? "We had to do that to cover the name of the real submarine we were filming."
It seemed Crunch became "psychic" at the very end ... why was such a weird, out-of-the-blue aspect like that added to the film? "Actually Crunch showed his psychic abilities right at the beginning, when he is asked to be part of the team again. Right then he puts a coffee bean in his mouth and starts crunching it. That's way his nickname is Crunch!"
'Best Buddy Arnold Schwarzenegger' Questions:
What do you remember about the time you spent with him working in a two-man brick masonry business in California shortly after your arrival to the U.S.? "I just remember that it was 1971 and the big earthquake happened here in California and our business phone was ringing off the hook. We became very busy, and we would still train in our free time."
Tell me a funny story about you and Arnold on a movie set "On the first 'Terminator' I had a small part where I was shooting with an automatic machine-gun. I got so into it that even after the director said cut I kept on shooting. Arnold was like "Hey Franco, are you enjoying that"?"
What's the most interesting, yet perhaps publicly unknown aspect about Arnold? "That he takes his work very seriously but on the other hand when we are out together he's a lot of fun! And basically when we are together nothing has changed from when we first met 30 something years ago."
Did you aid Arnold in any way with regard his recent California election? "Just with minor campaign help and support."
'Getting To Know Franco' Questions:
To win your two Mr. Olympia Bodybuilding titles (1976 and 1981) what did you have to go through? "Well, a lot of very hard training, of course! I was also studying for my chiropractic exams and a while before the second competition I severely injured my knee and had to have surgery and months of rehabilitation before I could start training again."
How does this film rank up there alongside your other movies such as 'Big Top Pee-wee' (1988) and 'The Terminator' (1984)? "I would say 'Ancient Warriors' is my number 1 and 'Terminator' would be number 2."
What's next for you as either an actor or producer/director? "I have a few ideas and projects, nothing definite yet."
Describe yourself in three words "Ambitious, hard working and fun loving."
Finally, and be honest ... what scene in 'Ancient Warriors' was for you the most far-fetched of the entire movie?! "I guess the part were Richard Lynch character finds the chalice under the stones and drinks the ancient potion!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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