Patrick Schwarzenegger | It Commences in Bed, on the Floor
Patrick Schwarzenegger keeps a whiteboard next to his bed. it’s separated into five columns: Family, Financial, Physical, Mental, and Work. “I put it next to my bed,” he tells me, “so I’m reminded every day of where I want to go and how to utilize the day, and not push off ’til tomorrow what I can do today towards those goals.”
Schwarzenegger has had a busy day—an early morning audition and a meeting at one of his two pizza restaurants in the afternoon, all while prepping for a PR tour for his latest film, Midnight Sun, in which he stars opposite Bella Thorne. With everything going on, it’s no wonder the 24-year-old keeps a whiteboard so close. Today, though, the hustle is relatively kind—he ends the workday within the tranquil environs of the storied Casa del Mar, beachside in Santa Monica, for a Flaunt photo shoot and interview.
You’ve seen Schwarzenegger before. He was Romeo in that Ariana Grande music video. He was one of the frat boys in Grown Ups 2. Most recently, he played Sgt. Ben Hayhurst in the Nat Geo mini-series The Long Road Home. And now, with Midnight Sun, he can officially add leading man to his already impressive resume.
“This was definitely the first leap as a male lead,” he says. “And, you know, at the time I was focused on finishing school.” Schwarzenegger went to USC, with a major in business and a minor in cinematic arts. “We filmed up in Vancouver, and I’d fly down on the weekends to take my midterms and finals, which was...” he trails off and laughs, “pretty fun.”
If you’ve seen the critically acclaimed war series The Long Road Home, know that Midnight Sun is nothing like that. “I mean, I don’t think they could be more kind of polar opposites,” he says. “But, that’s also what I wanted to do.” In Midnight Sun, Schwarzenegger plays Charlie, a handsome all-star athlete who’s forced to stay at home rather than go to college due to an injury. He falls in love with Katie (Bella Thorne), a musician who can only go out at night due to a rare genetic condition.
It’s a sweet film, filled with acoustic music and romantic monologues—a huge departure from the bullets and mortar explosions of The Long Road Home. “I wanted to do something that wasn’t in the same genre and the same type of film,” he says, “because I didn’t want to be quote-unquote ‘typecasted’ as this type of person. I wanted to show some range.”
As if balancing midterms and movie-making wasn’t enough, Schwarzenegger is also an entrepreneur. He owns two Blaze Pizza franchises, and anyone that’s spent some time in the grind of the restaurant industry can attest to how consuming it can be. “Ah, man,” he says, clearly stressed, “the restaurant business is the most insane business, I think, that you can be in. But I fell in love with it and I wanted to get behind it.” Blaze isn’t Schwarzenegger’s first business, either—he’s shown a precocious knack for entrepreneurship at an age before most own a checking account.
His first foray into the business world came when he ran the memorabilia booth at the Arnold Classic, a massive multi-sport event held every year by his father in Columbus, Ohio. “He let me order the shirts and deal with different manufacturers in LA to find who was the cheapest. That was his way of teaching me tactics to increase profits and bring down your costs and all that,” he tells me. He applied what he learned to start his own clothing brand, called Project360, when he was just 15. He sold it off in 2014.
Schwarzenegger comes from the sort of fairy-tale lineage that is as close to royalty as you can get in the States. His father is Arnold Schwarzenegger— iconic bodybuilder, actor, and former governor of California. His mother, Maria Shriver, is an Emmy-award winning journalist and activist, as well as a Kennedy. Schwarzenegger doesn’t sweat it.
“I don’t feel any pressure,” he tells me. “I’m blessed that my parents come from different backgrounds. It’s molded me into who I am, and the lessons that I’ve learned from them, and the inspiration that they’ve been for me... Ultimately, I do want to make my own name and be my own person and not just, you know, ‘That Kennedy kid,’ or, ‘Oh, that’s Arnold’s kid’ or something like that. Both are amazing things to be known for, but I want to be successful on my own terms, and give back in my own ways.”
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Herein lies the fantasy that is Patrick Schwarzenegger. He is a man that, ostensibly, doesn’t have to do anything, yet chooses to do everything. What’s more, throughout our entire conversation, Schwarzenegger couldn’t stop thanking people—his family, his professors, Rick Wetzel, Bella Thorne. He repeated again and again how blessed he felt for every film, from minor parts to a full-blown leading male role. He called me “dude” and genuinely thanked me for my time. He’s a Schwarzenegger and a Kennedy, that’s true. But, he’s also “Patrick.” He knows where he comes from, and is nothing but grateful.
When he tells me about the whiteboard, and balancing school, business, and acting, I have to be honest—isn’t it all a bit exhausting? He laughs, clearly unfazed. “Whatever seems like a lot when you’re just dreaming about it or thinking about it, when you write it down and you visualize what you can do every day to move closer towards those goals, it really helps. I learned it from my dad. Nothing is too much or too big. You can do it all, if you put your mind to it.” It’s an incantation whose magic comes not from the words but from the work it inspires.
I’m excited to see how right he is.
Written by Shaun Parker.
Photographer: David Needleman at Jones Management.
Film by Jesse Dvorak.
Stylist: Avo Yermagyan at Forward Artists.
Groomer: David Cox using R+Co at Art Department.
Location: Hotel Casa del Mar, Santa Monica.