By Mary Milliken
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – In the opening episode of “FUBAR,” Arnold Schwarzenegger’s CIA agent character is labeled by his handler “the fastest 65-year-old white guy on the planet.”
But Schwarzenegger in real life is 75 years old and “FUBAR” is his first-ever television series: an eight-episode mix of rough-and-tumble action and comedy premiering on Thursday on streaming service Netflix.
“This was an opportunity that was not available in the ’80s and ’90s when I was climbing up in my career after ‘Conan the Barbarian’ and ‘Terminator,'” Schwarzenegger told Reuters.
He plays Luke Brunner, a CIA operative on the cusp of retirement called in to extract another agent from a dangerous assignment. That agent turns out to be Luke’s daughter Emma, and hijinks ensue in their risky missions around the world to contain Boro, a villain seeking weapons of mass destruction.
“He treats me like a child,” laments Emma, played by Monica Barbaro, who shares many of her father’s qualities and butts heads with him in expletive-laden lines.
“It is chaos and that creates a lot of fun opportunities,” Schwarzenegger said.
“Some of them are very intense – it’s life and death – and some are them are laugh-out-loud and you say, ‘Oh my God this is really funny’,” he added.
Barbaro calls it “quite a complicated relationship” as Emma fights to be anything but her dad, “but then realizes the harder we fight to not be our parents, the more we become them.”
Against the serious work and dysfunctional family dynamics, an eclectic crew of CIA colleagues provides comic relief, cracking jokes on Emma’s “daddy issues,” Luke’s mispronunciations and his desire to win back the wife he lost to divorce years ago.
Comedian Fortune Feimster, who plays a character named Roo, disrupts the CIA mission meetings with what she calls “something ridiculous” to bring levity.
Travis Van Winkle plays her partner Aldon and revels in the juxtaposition of “trying to save the world from extinction and these lighthearted lines.”
And then there is Barry, played by Milan Carter, a nerdy analyst who is also Luke’s handler and part of his family, and who knew about Emma’s line of work but kept it from Luke.
“On any given day, I might be scared of Arnold, but when I get to play Barry, it’s no holds barred, and I get to hold him accountable,” said Carter. “It’s a dream.”
For the younger cast members who grew up watching Schwarzenegger in “Terminator” films or “Kindergarten Cop,” they praise what the famous actor and former bodybuilder brings to set, namely discipline, teamwork, motivation and a mischievous side.
“He’s just mechanical with his schedule. He goes to bed at 12, after he studies all his lines, wakes up at 6 every day,” said Gabriel Luna, who plays archvillain Boro, adding “He always says: ‘People say you have to sleep eight hours. To those people I say sleep faster’.”
(Reporting by Mary Milliken; editing by Jonathan Oatis)