Having a famous parent can be tricky, especially if you wind up going into the family business. Do you exploit your surname in the hopes of shooting straight to the top? Or is it better to try and carve a niche on your own merits? Whatever you decide, it’s almost always impossible to escape comparison with your mum or dad.
Two young actors hoping to prove otherwise are Patrick Schwarzenegger (son of blockbuster beefcake Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Miles Robbins (Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon’s second-born). Instead of piggybacking on their parents’ fame and accepting minor roles in massive studio movies, the two 20-somethings (Robbins is 26, Schwarzenegger 27) have grafted their way through a series of short films and low-budget projects. This year, it seems like that hard work is about to pay off as both actors have just finished the busiest periods of their working lives.
In fact, Patrick just wrapped on four separate movie sets; while Miles’ seems to have got his foot in the door at Netflix with recent Christmas flick Let It Snow. However, it’s their newest film, Adam Egypt Mortimer‘s smart and stylish suspense thriller Daniel Isn’t Real, that could well cement their status as hot Hollywood property.
We caught up with the high-born duo to talk celebrity dads, squid-fuelled prosthetics and why it’s super-weird to have to put pants on every day…
‘Daniel Isn’t Real’ feels like a landmark for you as actors – does it feel like you’ve made it?
Miles Robbins: “Funnily enough, winning the Best Actor Award at last year’s Sitges Festival [for Daniel Isn’t Real] was one of the best, and most humbling things that has happened to me so far. It’s the first time that I won an award, but when it arrived, they’d put Daniel Robbins on it instead of Miles. It was a nice thing to receive but because they got my name wrong, I thought, ‘You’ve got a way to go yet, man!’”
Do you choose roles that distance you from your famous dads?
MR: “I’d avoided the business as much as I could because of how little I was interested in being constantly associated with my parents. But my lack of desire for fame is what ends up making the best products. Both Patrick and I aren’t in this for the spotlight. We just enjoy being on-set and making something special.”
Patrick Schwarzenegger: “I want to make sure that people get to see my acting in many different ways and in a different light. I’m not trying to follow in my Dad’s footsteps. He has offered me roles in his movies but I’m not interested in accepting stuff in his big action movies or not earning my way up. I’d much rather start small and do cool indie projects or get out to theatres.”
You share most of your screen time together in the film – did you hang out off-set much and did you stay in character?
PS: “The shoot was tough, especially for Miles because he had the heavier character, whereas I get to have a bit more fun. On-set, I would be in the totally opposite mood to him: running around set and screaming or singing in-between takes. Sometimes, he would have trouble getting to a certain point in his scenes, so I would go and mess with him and get him annoyed. He would end up fucking screaming his head off – and all of those scenes ended up great.”
MR: “We definitely did a lot of improvisation and playing around on the day helped too. It wasn’t like those stories you hear about someone shitting in someone else’s trailer or anything like that. Of course, it’s more fun to be the torturer than it is to be tortured and when I was going through some of the stuff that was really painful or difficult, Patrick was really supportive and helpful in getting me through it.”
There are some impressive prosthetics in the film – was that fun to get involved in?
MR: “I was thrilled about my ‘squid mask’. Movie magic is the whole reason that we do this so why not go all the way there by putting on all the prosthetics and doing as many crazy and trippy sequences as possible? All of the rubber and the smoke and mirrors is part of the fun of making movies. I was on set all day singing Fever Ray songs and being as freaky as I could. It was the only opportunity I’ve had to be a squid monster so far.”
Patrick – do you think you’ll ever star in a movie with your dad, Arnold Schwarzenegger?
PS: “100%. We’ve talked about it but I just don’t want a small role in one of his movies as some kind of charity case, you know? I’m very picky about the things I want to do and how I get there. Thankfully I’ve got plenty going on right now. I’ve just wrapped another movie called Echo Boomers with Michael Shannon [The Shape of Water] and Alex Pettyfer [Stormbreaker] and you’re literally talking with me on the set of Amy Poehler’s Netflix movie Moxie. But my Dad knows how I feel and if there’s a cool project with roles that work for both of us then hell yeah, I would totally do it!
And Miles – has acting meant you’ve got less time for your psychedelic pop group Pow Pow Family Band?
MR: “I have a couple of acting projects coming up but Pow Pow Family Band is very much an ongoing thing. I’ve been working on it for eight years now and we’re finishing up our second record, which should be done by the spring. It’s a cult actually – the worst cult in America – but it’s made up of my chosen family of friends and collaborators. We make children’s songs for grown-up children and invite you to accompany us with our tunes, laugh and ponder about how weird it is to put pants on every day. We encourage you to clog the Internet so we can all be free. We want the infrastructure to crumble and return the Earth to from whence it came. We’re all living in a simulation, so let’s be nice to each other.”
‘Daniel Isn’t Real’ is out now in UK cinemas and on Blu-ray and Digital HD