Given that he was widely known for having an ego twice the size of Jupiter it’s a humbler Arnold Schwarzenegger who’s been on the promo circuit for Terminator Genisys.
That’s Terminator 5 for those not in the know. Although for all intents and purposes it skips Terminator 3 and the prequel Terminator Salvation, which starred Christian Bale in a franchise spin-off.
Confused? Don’t be. All you need to know is that Arnie’s back as the clumping cyborg with a nice selection of one-liners. And if you’re surprised that the 67-year-old former Governor of California is back in harness, you’re arguably not as surprised as the man himself. “It was terrific,” he grins. “For them to come up with new twists, new turns, I really had a huge smile on my face. The character ages because it’s human flesh but it’s still the skeleton and that’s the same size. So I had to really bulk up again to gain some weight and some muscle size in order to resemble the 1984 character.
“And of course we all trained very hard.” A seven-year hiatus is bad for any star. But when your career is built on action flicks then the big enemy is the ageing process – that and the fickle nature of audience loyalty. But doubtless Schwarzenegger took succour from the example of his old friend and former box office rival Sylvester Stallone. When his career stalled in the 2000s he reined back, took stock and returned with reboots of Rocky and Rambo. Both Bruce Willis and Harrison Ford have dusted off their white vests, whips and blasters so why not Schwarzenegger with his Persol Ratti shades and biker jacket? What’s more the world appears to want it.
Schwarzenegger can’t help looking back to the days of the early 80s when he was first breaking through. Back then he was ridiculed for being a muscle-bound lump. And he soon got into a war of words with Stallone who considered himself an actor making tough guy movies whilst Schwarzenegger was, well, just a bodybuilder
“Stallone uses body doubles. I don’t,” was one of his blunt put-downs. But that’s a long time ago. In the years since there was the Planet Hollywood partnership, The Expendables and even a co-starring gig in Escape Plan. And Schwarzenegger seems genuinely relieved to be back in harness.
“The Terminator without any doubt was one of the first movies that made me very successful. I remember after having done Conan people said, ‘Well obviously it’s going to be very successful because you have this body but you will always have to rely on a body.’
“Then when we did Terminator and it really took off – there was one scene where I arrived naked – but then the rest of it was all with clothes on so it was not really relying on that. It was relying on the acting – to be able to portray a machine.
“That paid off so I could then do Commando, Predator, True Lies and Total Recall. Terminator 2 became the highest grossing film of the year so that again propelled my career forward. And Terminator 3 did exactly the same thing. So now I’m doing Terminator 5!”
So how does it feel to be back? His face lights up.
“I was upset that I couldn’t be in the fourth Terminator movie because when you’re Governor your main interest is to run the state, not to make Terminator movies!
“So they did it without me and it made me a cry a little bit. But I did say ‘I’ll be back’ and now I’m back again.”