In 1970, Arnold Schwarzenegger was known as the World's Strongest Man. He had
long planned to move from bodybuilding into acting, as many of his idols had
done. Initially he had trouble breaking into films due to his
long surname, "overly" large muscles, and foreign accent, but he was
nevertheless chosen to play the role of Hercules in Hercules in New York...
Credited under the name "Arnold Strong", his accent in the film was so thick
that producers feared he would not be easily understood by audiences, and had
his lines dubbed after production. His
second film appearance was as a deaf/mute hit-man for the
mob in The Long Goodbye (1973), which
was followed by a much more significant part in the film Stay Hungry (1976), for which he was awarded a Golden
Globe for Best New Male Star.
Schwarzenegger drew wide attention and boosted his profile in the
body building film Punping Iron (1977). He also appeared
with Kirk Douglas in the 1979 film The Villain, yet
his breakthrough film was the mythical epic Conan The
Barbarian (1982), which was followed by a sequel Conan
the Destroyer (1984), which didn't perform that well.
As an actor, he is best-known as the title character of director James
science fiction film
The Terminator (1984) and its sequels. Following
The Terminator, Schwarzenegger made Red
Sonja in 1985 which effectively bombed.
He also made a mark for injecting his films with a droll, often
self-deprecating sense of humor (including sometimes famously bad puns). Schwarzenegger's alternative-universe comedy/thriller Last
Action Hero featured a poster of the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day which, in that
alternate universe, had Stallone as its star; a similar
in-joke in Twins suggested that the two actors might
one day co-star, something which has yet to happen. During the 1980s
audiences had a large appetite for action films, with both Schwarzenegger and
Sylvester Stallone becoming international stars.
Following his arrival as a Hollywood superstar, he made a number of
successful films: Commando (1985), Raw Deal(1986), The Running Man(1987), and
Red Heat(1988). In Predator
(1987), another successful film, Schwarzenegger led an all star cast, although
he did not feature in the sequal.
(1988) a comedy with Danny Devito, was a change of pace and also proved to be successful. Total
Recall (1990), at that time the most expensive film ever, netted
Schwarzenegger $10 million and 15% of the gross, and was a widely praised,
thought-provoking science-fiction script Kindergarten Cop (1990) was another comedy
which reunited him with director Ivan Reitman who also directed him in
Schwarzenegger had a brief foray into directing, first with a 1990 episode of
the TV series Tales from the Crypt,
entitled "The Switch", and then with the 1992 Christmas in Conneticut.
Schwarzenegger's critical and commercial high-water mark was the 1991 sequel
to his 1984 hit The Terminator, Terminator
2 Judgement Day, which
was one of the highest grossing film of the year and surpassed the original
film's success. His next film project, the 1993 self-aware
action comedy Last Action Hero had the misfortune to be released opposite Jurassic
Park, and suffered accordingly. Schwarzenegger's career never again
achieved quite the same prominence, his aura of box-office invincibility
suffering, although the action comedy True Lies in 1994 was a highly popular send up of
spy films, and saw Schwarzenegger reunited with director James Cameron, whose own
career had taken off with The Terminator.
Shortly thereafter came another comedy Junior in 1994, which reunited him once
again with Ivan Reitman as well as Danny DeVito. This film also brought
Schwarzenegger his second Golden Globe nomination. It was followed by the popular, action thriller Eraser in 1996, and the comic-book based
Batman and Robin in 1997 where he played villain Mr Freeze. This was his final film before taking time
to recuperate from a back injury. Following the failure of Batman &
Robin, Schwarzenegger's film career and box office prominence went into
Several film projects were announced with Schwarzenegger attached to star
including the remake of Planet of the Apes, a
new film version of I Am Legend (Will Smith), and a World War II film scripted by Tarantino
that would have seen
Schwarzenegger finally play an Austrian.
Instead he returned after a hiatus with the supernatural thriller End
of Days in 1999 — an
unsuccessful and atypically dark attempt to broaden his acting range.
Schwarzenegger later starred in the action films The 6th Day in 2000 and Collateral
Damage in 2002,
none of which came close to recapturing his former prominence. In 2003 he
reprised his most famous role in Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines which was the long-awaited sequel to the 1991 film and went on
to earn over $150 million domestically.