16 May 2012
One of the great actors in American cinema during the 1980's and 1990's was the great Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was a body builder who then switched to acting, and thus was often used to portray big, macho, seemingly invincible characters, such as the Terminator, and Schaefer (in Predator). Because of this, he sometimes played roles that used this in comedic roles, such as Kindergarten Cop and Jingle all the way. In 2003, however, he decided to take an indefinite hiatus in his acting career, and enter politics, where he was elected governor of California.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was born in Austria in 1947, and lived a difficult life at home. His family was very poor, and he was beaten as a child, but always seemed to maintain a “cheerful, good-humored and exuberant character.” His father influenced him to play many sports, and while playing soccer, he was introduced to the idea of bodybuilding, which he chose as his career. He began to become obsessed with bodybuilding, in a sense. He was reported to break into the gym late at night, just to continue to work out. In his hometown, they called him “The Austrian Oak”, to signify how incredibly strong he was. He began his professional competitive career at the age of 17, and won many awards, including Mr. Europe and the youngest Mr. Universe in the history of the title.
Schwarzenegger eventually left Europe to go the United States, using bodybuilding to make it. He lived in Los Angeles, working out at Gold's Gym with a number of famous wrestlers and bodybuilders. Because of his new location and new friends, he eventually won Mr. Olympia, seven times.
In 1970, he decided to hand at acting in cinema. His first roles were very limited due to his trouble with the English language and his thick austrian accent. His first roles were either dubbed with someone else's voice, or mute entirely. His first huge hit where he was the lead role was Conan the Barbarian (1982), in which he played Conan. This was a box-office hit, and this projected him into his career defining role, the Terminator. Terminator (1984) is probably his most famous role, in which he says “I'll be back,” which is his most famous line. Terminator, along with his next movies, Commando (1985), Running Man (1987), and Predator (1987), launched him into being an action movie star, gaining him international popularity.
However, as he is an action movie star, he uses this to make stark contrasts as he plays in more goofy roles, such as in Twins, Kindergarten Cop, and Jingle all the Way. In these roles, he relies on his previous roles of tough, gruff, men who shoot things in every shot, to being a sophisticated intellectual in Twins, the absent but loving father in Jingle all the Way, or the same tough-guy, surrounded by small children. In Gianetti, it is wirtten that versatility is a good measure of the quality of an actor, but Schwarzenegger's “versatility” is only due to his previous roles. This is not to say that he is not a good actor, but rather, his qualities lie elsewhere.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has an air about him unlike any actor who has gone before him. His Austrian accent, his gigantic stature and athletic ability, his great facial expressions, and his unmistakable one-liners have made him into one of the most recognizable actors in American cinema.
His accent has been parodied many times throughout the years. Many times, and in many different forms of media and/or film, using an Austrian accent in a deep voice has become indicative of a very strong person. In the movie Aladdin, the Genie transforms into a giant muscular man, and says “Infinite Cosmic Power!” in a Schwarzenegger-esque voice. Even in video games, like Starcraft 2, the unit “Thor”, which is a giant robot with gigantic cannons on top, is piloted by a Austrian accented man who even looks a bit like Schwarzenegger.
This is due to Schwarzenegger's own stature, which was exemplified in Commando, where he was first seen with a whole tree trunk on his back. Schwarzenegger's size is also alluded to in many other movies and forms of media, including the movie Die Hard, where John McClane states “they have enough explosives to orbit Arnold Schwarzenegger!”
In Total Recall (1990), Schwarzenegger had some ridiculous facial expression to show his agony of being on the surface of Mars without a spacesuit, for example. This has endeared him to many audiences. Even his face while playing the Terminator is commendable for his cold and calculating demeanor, without moving his face nor conveying any kind of emotion. Furthermore, his face when he has some of it blown off, showing the red eye and metal understructure of the Terminator's face, is widely recognizable across nations.
However, the most endearing facet of Schwarzenegger's career has to be his punctuation of action sequences with quick quips, often puns. This has become almost a trademark of 1980's and 90's between Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. For example, in the movie Total Recall, his wife says “Sweetheart, we're married!” then pulls out a gun. Quaid, Schwarzenegger's character, shoots her in the head. He then says “Consider that a divorce.” The link below has approximately 160 of these quotes, as they are quite prevalent throughout his filmography.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has appeared on many, many lists of the worlds most influential or recognizable actors of all time. Looking at his flimography and at his demeanor as well as his endeavors outside of acting, this is very easy to see. He has given us many of our favorite movies, and there are reports that now that he is no longer the “Governator”, he will return to acting, at least in a diminished capacity. Perhaps we will get another great movie from the “Austrian Oak”.