‘The Legend of Conan’ Writer on Why His ‘Unforgiven’ Take on the Movie Isn’t Happening
Several years ago, we reported that a sequel to Conan the Destroyer, entitled The Legend of Conan, was in the works with Arnold Schwarzenegger set to return as the eponymous barbarian. However, while Schwarzenegger has started transitioning to more character-driven films like Maggie and Aftermath, he’s moved away from his franchises.
While The Legend of Conan isn’t dead, during an interview for his upcoming film The Fate of the Furious, screenwriter Chris Morgan told Steve Weintraub that his particular take on the material, which would have been like Unforgiven, probably isn’t happening:
“Conan will always have life in it, not for us unfortunately. We put together a great, great story –I’m the biggest fan of the [John] Milius Conan film, a lot of people make fun of it but I think it’s the smartest script, I think it’s a great performance, I love the story. It actually has something to say about what it is to be a man and a warrior, what’s worth fighting for and what’s not, I’ve always loved it. To me there’s only been one Conan movie and it’s that one, there’s never been anything else. So our idea was to literally pick that movie up but 30 years later and kind of do a version of Unforgiven, where there’s something going on and Conan is not the strongest guy he used to be, he’s not the legend he used to be; he’s an old, broken guy. And this thing comes down to where now he’s got to find a reason to go on and find a different way to fight other than just with brute strength. It was a great movie that just gave validation to even at the end of someone’s life there’s real value to them. I don’t know, it was so great, Arnold [Schwarzenegger] loved it. I think at the end of the day it was just probably too expensive, too big, and to the studio ultimately it wasn’t in the cards for them. So now it’s kind of out and I think they’re looking elsewhere to do like maybe a TV show or something else with it. But that was my interest, just to tell that one story, but you never know, down the road we’ll see what happens.”
Steve suggested if the economics would have changed if they had cast a bigger star, but for Morgan, the story would have lost its gravity if anyone other than Schwarzenegger had played the role:
“Frankly I wouldn’t have been interested if it was anyone but him, I don’t think that story would have been the same and I don’t think it would’ve had the importance for me that it did. So that’s not something I ever would have pitched or backed.”
I have yet to see Conan the Barbarian or Conan the Destroyer (I know, I know; it’s on my list), but I like the idea of a fantasy film going with the Unforgiven mold, and it would fit nicely where Schwarzenegger is in his career right now playing characters who reconsider the role violence plays in their lives.
What do you think about the Conan franchise going forward? Do you want to see Schwarzenegger pick up the sword again or should the studio attempt another reboot? Do you like Morgan’s take on The Legend of Conan? Sound off in the comments section.