Arnold Schwarzenegger Biography – Highlights
I just recently finished reading the unabridged version of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biography in which he shares with the reader some of his “unbelievably” extensive life’s achievements. Beginning with his days living in Austria, to him developing a passion for body-building, moving to America, gradually dipping into the movie industry, his success there, his marriage (and eventual divorce) to Maria, and finally his time as a governor of California, this is all told in this insightful 700 page book.
Instead of giving a review of the book, I thought I would include some highlights and interesting things I learnt from reading this book. In no particular order here they are:
1) In the first Terminator, the iconic movie line uttered by the terminator who was played by Schwarzenegger is “I’ll be back.” Arnold recalls how there was a lot of disagreement about this line because he thought it was too feminine and instead wanted to say “I will be back.”
Here is a snippet from the book:
Our biggest disagreement was about “I’ll be back.” That of course is the line you hear the Terminator say before it destroys the police station. The scene took a long time to shoot because I was arguing for “I will be back.” I felt that the line would sound more machinelike and menacing without the contraction. “It’s feminine when I say the I’ll,” I complained, repeating it for Jim so he could hear the problem. “I’ll. I’ll. I’ll. It doesn’t feel rugged to me.” He looked at me like I’d lost my mind. “Let’s stick with I’ll,” he said. But I wasn’t ready to let it go, and we went back and forth. Finally Jim [James Cameron] yelled, “Look, just trust me, okay? I don’t tell you how to act, and you don’t tell me how to write.”
2) When the production of the movie Predator was taking place Arnold wanted to take a few weeks off from shooting as he was getting married to his long time fiancée, but the producer said no because he feared the rain season was starting soon and further shooting would be ruined. So Arnold had to cut it short, and was still deep in the Mexican jungle less than 48 hours before his scheduled wedding. To the bewilderment of some guests Arnold sported a crew-cut at the wedding as that was his military look in the movie and not much could be done about it.
3) Arnold has a lot to do with the introduction of the Hummer to the public. He recalls how he witnessed the military version Humvees drive past and wanted one for himself. He eventually pitched the idea of a redesigned model to the CEO of the company that makes them. Here is a paragraph from the book:
I’d noticed the Humvee just the summer before, up in Oregon, while we were shooting scenes for Kindergarten Cop. A convoy of US Army Humvees drove by, and I fell in love. It was the best-looking, most rugged SUV I’d ever seen. The Humvee had as standard equipment features that guys would spend thousands and thousands of dollars adding to their Jeeps or Chevy Blazers: oversize wheels and mirrors, high ground clearance, extra lights, including infrared, a brush bar in front, and a winch for hauling yourself out of trouble. The Humvee looked ballsy without having to add anything! Not only did I want one for myself, but also I knew there would be a ready-made market if I could talk the manufacturer into building a version for the public. That was my sales pitch when I went to see the CEO and other executives at AM General in Lafayette, Indiana, which made Humvees for the military. I finagled permission to buy one, and then turned it over to a company to make it street-legal and civilize the interior, and then sent it back to AM General, saying “Now, copy this.” That’s what it did, and that’s why the Hummer became so closely identified with me when it went on the market.
4) Arnold talks about how his character in action movies differentiated him from other action actors such as Sylvester Stallone because he incorporated humour with the use of one-liners in otherwise serious movies. It helps “deflate” the situation. They include:
In Commando, after breaking the neck of one of my daughter’s kidnappers, I prop him up next to me in an airline seat and tell the flight attendant, “Don’t disturb my friend, he’s dead tired.” In The Running Man, after strangling one of the evil stalkers with barbed wire, I deadpan, “What a pain in the neck!” and run off.
5) The original actor scheduled to play the terminator in the movie The Terminator was the infamous O. J Simpson. Arnold was to play the role of ‘Kyle Reese’ the futuristic soldier sent to protect Sarah Connor. After speaking to James Cameron, Cameron was happy to cast Schwarzenegger in the terminator role. Before that though Arnold was hesitant to even be part of the movie because he only had a total of 16 lines to say.
6) We all know the comedy Twins starring Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was a successful collaboration between the two actors. So much so that Schwarzenegger was and is still very serious about doing a sequel to this movie called ‘Triplets’ where there is another lost brother starring Eddie Murphy. Not sure how successful that one will be.
7) The last Mr. Olympia in which Arnold competed and won his seventh title nowhere else but here in Sydney, Australia. The victory was very controversial as Arnold decided to surprise everyone by not registering and saying he is only there to watch. Instead he trained under the premise he needs the body for a movie he is shooting, in the last minute he entered the contest and won. He recalls:
It was the first nonunanimous decision in Mr. Olympia history. When my name was announced, only half the two thousand people in the opera house cheered, and for the first time in my life, I heard boos. Right afterward, one of the top five finishers threw around chairs backstage, while another smashed his trophy to smithereens in the parking lot and yet another announced he was quitting bodybuilding for good.
8) Arnold had a good friendship with George H W Bush (Snr) and spent time with him and Barbra his wife at their holiday house. There is a photograph of them sledding moments before Arnold & George crash into Barbara breaking her leg.
9) Arnold once when he was a governor wrote a letter to a state assemblyman rejecting his request because the guy originally heckled him at a function. The best bit was the secret message in Arnold’s letter. Here is a snippet from the book and the letter itself:
In 2009 my friend Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco and the longest-serving assembly speaker in California history, was hosting a fund-raiser for the California Democratic Party at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel, and he and I thought it would be funny for me to drop in. I showed up unannounced and gave Willie a big hug and a smooch in front of everybody, which freaked out half the Democrats and made the other half laugh. Then a freshman state assemblyman from San Francisco named Tom Ammiano stood up at his table and started heckling me. “Kiss my gay ass!” he yelled. The press wrote about it. Ammiano was a professional comedian besides being a politician. I didn’t make any comment. Very funny, ha ha. But in my mind I said, “There will come a time when I’m signing bills and I’m going to get one sponsored by him . . .” Sure enough, a few weeks later I got one of Ammiano’s bills. It was a routine measure about the San Francisco waterfront but it meant a lot to him. I instructed my staff to put together a nice veto message. No one picked up on the message spelled out by the first letter of each line, so a suggestion was leaked to a few reporters: “Are you sure you read the governor’s veto message the right way? Maybe you should read it vertically.” Then everybody saw it and there was a big public fuss:
10) I thought this photo was great of Wilt Chamberlain, who played the treacherous Bombaata, and André the Giant, who played the evil beast god Dagoth, making Arnold look small. Let’s not forget that Arnold is over 6 feet tall.