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An Interview with Icon Arnold Schwarzenegger

He said he’d be back, and now that all that political stuff is behind him, he is. All hail the King of Action!

Photo Courtesy of the Michael Ochs Archive / Getty | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

You’re in The Expendables 2, a movie with every action hero ever. How was sharing a set?
It was terrific, because we’re competitive guys who were always trying to outdo each other through decades of making films— who has the biggest muscles, the biggest guns, the biggest fight scenes, the biggest explosions. You always try to be the best, but everyone came together on this film.

Would a cast like this have been possible back in the day?
Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson tried to gather all the action heroes. We came close, but there was never really a script that lent itself to that. Sly Stallone developed this script with that in mind, and he did a genius job with it. Everyone plays whatever they represent on the screen. You have Chuck Norris delivering his dialogue the way he always does, Sly doing his thing, me doing mine…Everyone had a good time!

Did you guys hang out together?
We went out for dinner. We kind of kept together to get a drink and explore Bulgaria.

It’s hard to imagine the reaction when you all walk into a place together.
Yeah, they can’t believe it!

Do you have a favorite one-liner from all the films you’ve done?
The most repeated ones are my favorites: “Hasta la vista, baby,” “I’ll be back,” “Fuck you, asshole,” “Stick around.” It’s an art. The writing is important, but the way you say the line and the pause you give it, the facial expression—all of that is very important. I learned that quickly with the “I’ll be back” line from Terminator. I fought James Cameron on that, because I thought “I will be back” would sound more like a machine, and, of course, I was totally wrong.

How does Hollywood compare to Washington?
What’s fascinating is, people in Wash­ington would rather spend time in Hollywood, and people in Hollywood would rather spend time in Washington. In Washington every­thing you do, 50 percent of the people say no and 50 percent say yes. In movies it’s different. Even if a movie doesn’t do well, people want your autograph. That’s not the case with politicians. People hate them!

Is there a difference between actors and politicians?
It takes balls to be in politics, and that’s something most entertainers don’t have. When I ran for governor of California in 2003, I found out you immediately get attacked. They send reporters to check your background: your taxes, why did you travel here, why do you use a Hummer, were you in Rio de Janeiro with some naked girls, didn’t you smoke a joint, didn’t you take steroids…Hollywood and Washington have so much in common: A lot of Washington people beg for a cameo in your movie, while people in Hollywood say, “Can I be part of a commission?” The big difference is that in movies you make money, and in politics you lose money.

You’re enormously famous for your body. Do you ever wish you’d gotten famous for being a fat-ass, so you could stop working out so much?
I would never exchange my life with anybody else’s. I was striving to be the most muscular man, and it got me into the movies. It got me everything that I have.

You’ve made dozens of classic action movies. Do any on-set moments still stand out for you?
Back in the ’80s when we did Raw Deal, a friend of mine put an explosive into my cigar. He timed it so that when I lit the cigar on-camera, it exploded, and my whole face was black. Of course, it never made it into the movie, because they would have had to shoot me with a black face! Sets are kind of like college dorms. We just do crazy things.

Is there an action movie you didn’t star in that you wish you had?
All the Harrison Ford movies, all the Stallone and Bruce Willis movies, Liam Neeson in Taken, things like that.

Is it true you’re doing a Twins sequel with Danny DeVito and Eddie Murphy?
That’s true! We are working on that full blast ahead to get it written. We will most likely shoot it next spring.

How does it feel to act in front of green screens rather than the real sets you used to use?
You have to be disciplined with green screens. But remember that being 1,500 feet below the ground in a coal mine—that’s a real challenge. And getting one dollar a day like I’ve seen in Africa—that is a challenge. Everything else is all doable.

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