Patrick Schwarzenegger is a born-and-bred L.A. boy, but he’s giving a good go of Texan cowboy, from the cowboy hat, oversize denim jacket and scruff to the toothpick hanging from his teeth and the beat-up Toby Keith T-shirt he was given at LAX en route to Austin (Keith is actually an Oklahoma native, but he’s going with it).
Schwarzenegger, the son of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, is at SXSW for the premiere of his psychological thriller “Daniel Isn’t Real,” which marks a departure from the more wholesome roles the actor has previously embodied and all-American persona for which he’s known.
The film is the story of Luke, played by Miles Robbins, whose childhood imaginary friend Daniel (Schwarzenegger) forces him into doing some not so good things. In the film, Daniel is back to revisit the now college-aged Luke.
The ability to explore a person’s “darker side,” as Schwarzenegger says, was part of what grabbed him, after he developed an interest in men’s mental health following last year’s Parkland school shooting.
“I’ve really wanted to dive in and see what are some of the things that people are dealing with, or these alter egos that they’re having or these other voices in their head that are telling them to do things. This film plays with that,” Schwarzenegger says, outside the Fairmont Hotel in the Austin, Tex., heat. “It wasn’t the most fun thing to research but it was interesting.”
Safe to say the role was an immediate break from his previous film, the rom-com “Midnight Sun,” in which he starred opposite Bella Thorne.
“It was something that kind of let me stretch my hands and really get to act and play with,” he says of “Daniel Isn’t Real.” “To really go out there and show people that I can do a different side of a role and not just be Patrick Schwarzenegger on the screen. But really just dive into a total opposite character and really get to play. That was definitely one of the largest appeals about it.”
Schwarzenegger says he has two films in the pipeline past “Daniel Isn’t Real,” and in the midst is continuing his business development and consulting, with companies like pizza chain Blaze Pizza, fast-casual restaurant Every Table and children’s brand Cubcoats (stuffed animals that become hoodies).
“I’m sitting here doing press, and I’m supposed to go and film something in a month or two, but just not really sure when,” he says. “It’s just up and down; I love working, and I love business. I just like to keep myself busy.”
More from the Eye: