On a sunny London morning at 11:00, Arnold Schwarzenegger embodies charisma and assurance. As we discuss the current actors’ strike, he promptly delivers his iconic lines from Predator and Terminator. “Although the strike restricts movie promotion, those classics don’t need it,” he notes.
At 76, Schwarzenegger’s presence is compelling, proving that labor disputes have nothing on this action hero.
We’re at Guardians Personal Training centre, near Parliament Hill Lido, for a BBC Breakfast interview. The setting is quiet, with just the two of us surrounded by fitness equipment. “The facilities here surpass what I experienced at Claridge’s today,” he says with gusto, hinting at his morning workout.
My cameraman, Peter, anxiously turns to Schwarzenegger, holding up a clapperboard with the actor’s name scribbled on it. “Did I spell your name right?”
Schwarzenegger pauses for a brief moment to verify, then beams, “Absolutely.”
Table of Contents
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Behind the Pages of “Be Useful”
As we kick off the interview with a single clap, the focus quickly shifts to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recent literary endeavor.
Currently in London to promote his book, Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life, Schwarzenegger has garnered mixed reviews. While The Guardian, not typically a fan of Republican figures, praises it as an “improvement guide which actually works,” The Los Angeles Times offers a tepid response: “The writing doesn’t pump much iron.” However, even they confess to feeling more motivated after reading.
The book, divided into seven resonant chapters such as “Work Your Ass Off,” “Never Think Small,” and “Shut Your Mouth, Open Your Mind,” is Schwarzenegger’s push to inspire success in others.
“You know, growing up, I simply aspired to be the world’s most muscular man,” reflects the former seven-time Mr. Olympia and four-time Mr. Universe winner. He adds with a chuckle, “And, of course, to star in films and earn millions.”
Yet, after achieving iconic roles in films like Conan the Barbarian, Twins, and True Lies, his aspirations evolved. Realizing people admired his journey and sought guidance, he identified a gap: the need for genuine motivation. This revelation birthed the book.
When questioned about the term ‘self-help,’ Schwarzenegger passionately debunks a widespread myth about him. “I despise being labeled a ‘self-made man.’ It’s essential to understand that no one accomplishes great things alone. We all need support,” he stresses.
Schwarzenegger’s Support System and Presidential Hopes
Arnold Schwarzenegger begins by acknowledging the vast array of individuals who’ve shaped his journey. These range from Reg Park, a bodybuilder from Leeds who shined in the ’60s Hercules films, to the 5.8 million Californians who elected him as their Republican governor.
He emphasizes in his book the importance of seeking help and reciprocating it. “Once you recognize the help you’ve received, you must also extend help to others,” he mentions.
Schwarzenegger’s history of aiding others spans over 30 years. His contributions include supporting the Special Olympics, a generous donation of $1m (£800,000) for pandemic front-line responders, and hosting a poker-themed Oktoberfest dinner, which raised a whopping $7m (£5.8m) for his after-school initiatives. And yes, lederhosen were indeed a part of the attire.
However, amidst all his accomplishments, one title will remain beyond his reach: the U.S. President. The U.S. constitution mandates a natural-born citizenship for presidential candidates. Schwarzenegger, originally from Thal, Austria, moved to the U.S. at 19.
When probed about any potential regrets, he states confidently, “I believe I’d be an excellent president.” But he swiftly adds, “All I achieved was thanks to America and its welcoming people. I won’t bemoan the singular thing I can’t pursue.”
Although, he hints at a lingering desire for the top job, adding, “Yes, there’s the constitution. While it needs reform, it’d be self-centered to modify it for my own ambition.”
Discussing the upcoming presidential race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, Schwarzenegger expresses his wish for fresher, younger candidates. “It’s peculiar that contenders are in their late seventies or early eighties. We should be looking at individuals in their forties or fifties, or even younger, for such a pivotal role.”
Schwarzenegger’s Take on Cinema Today
Schwarzenegger remains passionate about the movie industry and hints at upcoming projects with palpable enthusiasm.
The most recent film he watched? Barbie. He praises it as “exceptionally crafted.” When I suggest that had it been produced in the 80s, he could have been the perfect Ken, he replies with a spirited, “There’s potential in that character!”
Discussing the bygone era where major stars like Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and Willis could single-handedly drive a film’s success, I ponder why that seems to be a fading trend.
Jokingly he says, “Let’s hope Chris Pratt, my son-in-law, doesn’t catch wind of that,” referencing his daughter Katherine’s marriage to the lead of Guardians of the Galaxy and the Jurassic World series.
He nods in agreement, “Today’s superstars often ride the coattails of a franchise’s fame. Their stardom might be linked to roles like Batman or Wonder Woman, rather than their individual charisma carrying the film.”
Schwarzenegger reflects, “Every couple of decades, the entertainment landscape shifts.”
As someone who has navigated these waves, Schwarzenegger is a testament to adapting and thriving. As our conversation wraps up, he readies himself for a sold-out event at the Royal Albert Hall. It’s evident he knows what the audience anticipates.
True to form, those iconic lines are set to make a return.