20 Facts About Your Favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger Movies

Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

He’s been a bodybuilder, a governor, a stand-in for Donald Trump, and a Terminator. But Arnold Schwarzenegger’s legacy will always be as one of Hollywood’s most popular action stars. To celebrate his 70th birthday, here are 20 facts about some of your favorite Ahnold movies.

1. SCHWARZENEGGER’S NAME ALMOST KILLED PUMPING IRON BEFORE IT GOT STARTED.


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And not because it was hard to pronounce. According to Pumping Iron co-director George Butler, cash was so tight during the film's production that he once visited a film development lab hoping to get some work done on credit. When the employee asked him what he was doing, Butler told him it was about bodybuilding. Suddenly, the man turned icy and asked if it had anything to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger. When Butler told him he was the star, the lab turned him away. The reason? The actor’s first movie, 1970’s Hercules in New York, had burned his business. “I won't give you any credit,” he said. “I had a movie in here … Hercules in New York and they never paid a bill and they owe me thirty grand."

2. CONAN THE DESTROYER HELPED MAKE SCHWARZENEGGER AN AMERICAN.

Schwarzenegger gained U.S. citizenship during the filming of Conan the Destroyer. He retains dual Austrian and U.S. citizenship to this day.

3. THE IDEA FOR THE TERMINATOR ALL STARTED WITH A FEVER DREAM.

James Cameron had a tumultuous experience making his directorial debut in 1981's Piranha II: The Spawning, but as he once put it, sometimes "nightmares are a business asset." While in Rome for the horror movie's release, Cameron had a fever dream of a "metal death figure coming out of a fire." That idea eventually morphed into The Terminator.

4. DIE HARD WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A SEQUEL TO COMMANDO

We have Schwarzenegger to thank for Bruce Willis's debut as tough NYPD cop John McClane in Die Hard: The former Moonlighting star was only cast in the role after the Governator turned it down. The film—now considered one of the greatest action movies of all time—was originally intended to be a sequel to Schwarzenegger's testosterone-fueled Commando, and a script was commissioned based on Roderick Thorp's 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever, about an NYPD detective fighting German terrorists who take over a skyscraper. However, the disappointing box-office performance of Schwarzenegger's first attempt at a sequel, Conan the Destroyer, led him to drop out of Commando 2. The script was then repurposed into a standalone action film, and the rest is Hollywood history.

5. PREDATOR FOILED A CONAN SEQUEL.


Twentieth Century Fox

A third film called Conan the Conqueror was planned for a 1987 release, but Schwarzenegger was unable to appear in it because he was shooting Predator.

Eventually, Schwarzenegger’s three-movie Conan contract expired and the idea was later refashioned into 1997’s Kull the Conqueror starring Kevin Sorbo. Kull happened to be a character based on another pulp fiction series by Conan creator Robert E. Howard.

6. TOTAL RECALL WAS IN DEVELOPMENT FOR OVER A DECADE. 

In 1976, fledgling screenwriters Ronald Shusett and Dan O’Bannon teamed up to adapt Philip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.” The pair purchased the rights to the piece that year, but soon hit the first of many delays on the road to the screen.

Difficulties in reimagining the story as a film forced the pair to take a long break from the Dick story to work on a different project. (This distraction would prove rather fortuitous, ultimately becoming the screenplay for Ridley Scott’s Alien.) Over the course of many years, the Total Recall screenplay went through more than 40 revisions. 

7. BILL MURRAY, PATRICK SWAYZE, AND DANNY DEVITO ALL TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF KIMBLE IN KINDERGARTEN COP.


Universal Pictures

Bill Murray turned down director Ivan Reitman, who he had worked with in Meatballs (1979), Stripes (1981), and in the Ghostbusters movies, without giving a reason. Patrick Swayze and Danny DeVito also said no.

8. THE STUDIO WANTED O.J. SIMPSON TO PLAY THE TERMINATOR.

It's been bouncing around the Internet for so long that you probably think it's an urban legend, but Orion co-founder Mike Medavoy admitted that he had strongly suggested O.J. Simpson for the part of the title role, and Cameron dismissed the thought because Simpson came off as too nice of a guy.

9. SCHWARZENEGGER DIRECTED A MADE-FOR-TV HOLIDAY MOVIE.

It was 1992, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was coasting on a career high, having starred in Terminator 2: Judgment Day just one year before. So naturally he took some time off to direct a made-for-TV remake of a classic 1945 rom-com about a food writer who has to pretend to be the perfect housewife lest she lose her job. It just makes sense. Swap out original star Barbara Stanwyck for Dyan Cannnon, add in Kris Kristofferson as the love interest, and TNT’s Christmas in Connecticut is good to go.

10. THE ACTOR HAD A CLOSE CALL ON THE SET OF TRUE LIES.


Twentieth Century Fox

Schwarzenegger almost died on the set of True Lies, when a horse he was riding during one of the film’s most memorable action sequences got spooked by a camera boom and started rearing up near the edge of a very steep drop (the actor estimates it was about 90 feet to the ground). Arnold managed to slip off the horse in time, and a stuntman pulled him to safety.

11. HE WAS ABLE TO PLAY THE LEAD IN JINGLE ALL THE WAY BECAUSE OF A DELAY ON A PLANET OF THE APES REMAKE.

Schwarzenegger signed up to star in the Apes remake in March of 1994, but 20th Century Fox rejected multiple scripts for the movie, including one co-written by Chris Columbus. Columbus left the project in late 1995, and Schwarzenegger followed him soon after, freeing him to sign up for Jingle All the Way, produced by Columbus, in February 1996. Fox's Planet of the Apes reboot found its way into theaters in 2001, starring Mark Wahlberg and directed by Tim Burton.

12. ARNOLD CAME BACK FOR A THIRD TERMINATOR, BUT AT A PRICE.

Schwarzenegger was paid $29.25 million to reprise his role as The Terminator in T3. His contract stipulated that $1.5 million of the budget should be set aside for private jets, a fully-equipped gym, deluxe hotel suites, limousines, and bodyguards for his personal benefit at all times during production. On top of that, Arnold also received 20 percent of the gross receipts on ticket sales, DVDs, TV rights, game licensing, and in-flight movie licensing on the movie worldwide.

13. PUMPING IRON INSPIRED SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER.

To create a contrast in Pumping Iron, the directors decided to focus on Schwarzenegger’s rival for the 1975 Mr. Olympia title, a soft-spoken Brooklyn native named Lou Ferrigno. Unlike Schwarzenegger’s bombastic confidence, Ferrigno was depicted as being browbeaten by his domineering father. According to Butler, screenwriter Nik Cohn saw the scenes of the Ferrignos arguing over the dinner table and used it as inspiration for a project of his own: His story, "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night," was turned into 1977’s Saturday Night Fever.

14. SCHWARZENEGGER WAS INITIALLY TURNED DOWN FOR TOTAL RECALL FOR BEING TOO MANLY.

Despite the gradual growth of main character Douglas Quaid’s imagined virility, there was a limit to how far producer Dino De Laurentiis was willing to stray from the original character in Total Recall. He insisted that someone like Schwarzenegger was out of the question for the part and even turned down the Terminator star when Schwarzenegger expressed interest in the role. 

15. SCHWARZENEGGER SPOKE JUST 58 WORDS IN THE TERMINATOR


Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Technically, The Terminator says more than Arnold's 17 sentences, but one is an overdubbed voice of a cop, and the other is in Sarah Connor's mother's voice, when the Terminator was trying to trick her.

16. PENELOPE ANN MILLER TAUGHT SCHWARZENEGGER HOW TO KISS ON CAMERA.

Penelope Ann Miller, Schwarzenegger’s love interest in Kindergarten Cop, gave her co-star some tips on the art of the onscreen smooch. She instructed him to grab and hold her before going in for the kiss, otherwise it would look like they were “swallowing each other up.” 

17. HE TOOK TANGO LESSONS TO PREPARE FOR TRUE LIES.

Schwarzenegger may have been very comfortable with action sequences, but he needed extra help in a different area when filming True Lies: He had to take tango lessons prior to filming, to give his Harry Tasker all those smooth moves on the dance floor.

18. JACKIE KENNEDY HELPED PUMPING IRON BECOME A HIT. 

A week before Pumping Iron premiered in January of 1977, the film’s press agent was able to stage a press luncheon in New York featuring an impressive list of the city’s notables like Andy Warhol and George Plimpton. But the most significant guest was Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who appeared as a favor to a mutual friend of hers and Schwarzenegger’s. Her presence at an event meant to promote a bodybuilding movie was so unique that it received a considerable amount of press attention. “She certainly gave Pumping Iron a big publicity boost,” Schwarzenegger would later write. Onassis even attended the film’s premiere with her son, John F. Kennedy Jr.

19. JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME WAS THE ORIGINAL GUY IN THE PREDATOR SUIT.

The “Muscles from Brussels” was reportedly fired from the movie because he complained too much about how uncomfortable the suit was.

20. THERE WAS A SEQUEL TO JINGLE ALL THE WAY STARRING LARRY THE CABLE GUY. 

No original cast nor characters returned in the straight-to-DVD Jingle All the Way 2 (2014). It was produced by 20th Century Fox and WWE Studios and featured wrestler Santino Marella. Sinbad expressed incredulity when a Redditer inquired if he was asked to return for it. "What they are doing a new version without me! Ain't gonna work!"

12 Festive Facts About A Christmas Story

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Which Oscar-winning star wanted to play Ralphie Parker's dad? Which actor went on to have a seedy career in the adult film industry? Can you really get your tongue stuck to a metal pole? On the 35th anniversary of A Christmas Story's debut, here are a few tidbits about the holiday classic to tide you over until TNT's 24-hour Christmas marathon.

1. JACK NICHOLSON WAS INTERESTED IN PLAYING RALPHIE'S DAD.

Though Jack Nicholson was reportedly offered the role of The Old Man Parker, and interested, casting—and paying—him would have meant doubling the budget. But director Bob Clark, who didn't know Nicholson was interested, said Darren McGavin was the perfect choice for the role.

2. IT OWES A DEBT TO PORKY'S.

What does Porky's—a raunchy 1980s teen sex comedy—have to do with a wholesome film like A Christmas Story? Bob Clark directed both: Porky's in 1982 and A Christmas Story in 1983. If Porky's hadn't given him the professional and financial success he needed, he wouldn't have been able to bring A Christmas Story to the big screen.

3. RALPHIE SAYS HE WANTS A RED RYDER BB GUN A LOT.

For anyone keeping count, Ralphie says he wants the Red Ryder BB Gun 28 times throughout the course of the movie. That's approximately once every three minutes and 20 seconds.

4. THESE DAYS, PETER BILLINGSLEY SPENDS HIS TIME BEHIND THE CAMERA.

Peter Billingsley, a.k.a. Ralphie, has been good friends with Vince Vaughn since they both appeared in a CBS Schoolbreak Special together in the early 1990s. He doesn't do much acting these days, though he has popped up in cameos (including one in Elf, another holiday classic). Instead, Billingsley prefers to spend his time behind the camera as a director and producer. He has done a lot of work with Vaughn and Jon Favreau, including serving as an executive producer on Iron Man (in which he also made a cameo).

5. YES, YOU CAN GET YOUR TONGUE STUCK ON A PIECE OF COLD METAL.

Mythbusters tested whether it was possible to get your tongue truly stuck on a piece of cold metal. Guess what? It is. So don't triple dog dare your best friend to try it.

6. ONE OF THE YOUNG ACTORS MOVED ON TO A CAREER IN ADULT FILMS.

Scott Schwartz, who played Flick (the kid who stuck his tongue to the frozen flagpole), spent several years working in the adult film industry. In 2000, he turned his attention back to mainstream films. His most recent role was as "Disco City Hot Dog Vendor" in the 2017 TV movie Vape Warz.

7. RALPHIE'S HOUSE IS NOW A MUSEUM.

Next time you're in Cleveland, you can visit the original house from the movie. It was sold on eBay in 2004 for $150,000. Collector Brian Jones bought the house and restored it to its movie glory and stocked it up with some of the original props from the film, including Randy's snowsuit.

8. THE IDEA FOR THE FILM CAME TO BOB CLARK WHILE HE WAS DRIVING TO PICK UP A DATE.

Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, and Ian Petrella in A Christmas Story (1983)
Warner Home Video

Director Bob Clark got the idea for the movie when he was driving to pick up a date. He heard Jean Shepherd on the radio doing a reading of his short story collection, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, which included some bits that eventually ended up in A Christmas Story. Clark said he drove around the block for an hour until the program ended (which his date was not too happy about).

9. IT PARTLY INSPIRED THE WONDER YEARS.

The Wonder Years was inspired in part by A Christmas Story. In fact, toward the very end of the series, Peter Billingsley even played one of Kevin Arnold's roommates.

10. YOU CAN STILL BUY A RED RYDER BB GUN.

The real Red Ryder BB Gun was first made in 1938 and was named after a comic strip cowboy. You can still buy it today for the low, low price of $39.99. But the original wasn't quite the same as the one in the movie; it lacked the compass and sundial that both the Jean Shepherd story and the movie call for. Special versions had to be made just for A Christmas Story.

11. THE LEG LAMP CAN ALSO BE YOURS.

Peter Billingsley and Melinda Dillon in A Christmas Story (1983)
Warner Home Video

While we're talking shopping: you know you want the leg lamp. Put it in your window! Be the envy of your neighbors! It's a Major Award! You can buy it on Amazon (there's a 40-inch version, as well as a 20-inch replica). If you're not feeling quite so flamboyant, they also make a nightlight version.

12. IT SPAWNED A TRIO OF SEQUELS.

A Christmas Story led to two little-talked-about sequels. The first one was a 1988 made-for-TV movie, Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss. Jerry O'Connell played 14-year-old Ralphie, who is excited about his first job—as a furniture mover. Of course, it ends up being awful, and it might make him miss the annual family vacation at Mr. Hopnoodle's lakeside cabins.

My Summer Story, a.k.a. It Runs in the Family, debuted on the big screen in 1994. Kieran Culkin plays Ralphie, Mary Steenburgen is his mom, and Charles Grodin is his dad.

And in 2012, the direct-to-video sequel A Christmas Story 2 picked up five years after the original movie left off, with Ralphie attempting to get his parents to buy him a car.

An earlier version of this story appeared in 2008.

10 Timeless Facts About The Land Before Time

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Five years before Jurassic Park roared into theaters, a gentler, more meditative dinosaur film endeared itself to audiences of all ages. Initially met with mixed reviews, The Land Before Time is now regarded as an animated classic. Here are 10 things you might not have known about the Steven Spielberg-produced film, which arrived in theaters 30 years ago.

1. IT WAS CONCEIVED AS A DIALOGUE-FREE MOVIE.

Gabriel Damon and Candace Hutson in The Land Before Time (1988)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

In the mid-1980s, executive producer Steven Spielberg began toying with the idea of a Bambi-esque dinosaur film. “Basically,” he later said, “I wanted to do a soft picture … about five little dinosaurs and how they grow up and work together as a group.” Inspiration came from the “Rite of Spring” sequence from Disney’s Fantasia (1940)—a scene in which prehistoric beasts wordlessly go about their business. At first, Spielberg wanted his own dinosaur characters to follow suit and remain mum. Ultimately, however, it was feared that a non-verbal approach might bore or confuse the film’s intended audience. As such, the animals were given lines.

2. DIRECTOR DON BLUTH WAS AN EX-DISNEY EMPLOYEE.

Don Bluth grew up idolizing Disney’s work, and began working for the studio in 1955. Over the next two decades, he did various odd jobs until he was brought on as a full-time animator in 1971. Once on the inside, Bluth got to peek behind the magician’s curtain—and disliked what he found there. “I think [Walt Disney] would’ve seen that the pictures were losing their luster,” Bluth said. Frustrated by the studio’s cost-cutting measures, he resigned in 1979. Joining him were fellow animators Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy. Together the trio launched their own company, Sullivan Bluth Studios, and began working on The Land Before Time in 1986.

3. OVER 600 BACKGROUND PAINTINGS WERE MADE FOR THE FILM.

Most of these depicted beautiful but barren wastelands, which presented a real challenge for the creative team. As one studio press release put it, “The artists had to create a believable environment in which there was almost no foliage.” Whenever possible, Bluth’s illustrators emphasized vibrant colors. This kept their backdrops from looking too drab or monotonous—despite the desolate setting.

4. LITTLEFOOT’S ORIGINAL NAME WAS “THUNDERFOOT.”

This was changed when the filmmakers learned that there was a triceratops in a popular children’s book called Thunderfoot. Speaking of three-horned dinosaurs: Cera evolved from a pugnacious male character called Bambo.

5. THE FILMMAKERS HAD TO CUT ABOUT 10 MINUTES OF FOOTAGE.

“We compromised a lot with The Land Before Time,” Goldman admitted. Nowhere was this fact more apparent than on the cutting room floor. Spielberg and his fellow executive producer George Lucas deemed 19 individual scenes “too scary.” “We’ll have kids crying in the lobby, and angry parents,” Spielberg warned. “You don’t want that.”

6. “ROOTER” WAS INTRODUCED AT THE URGING OF CHILD PSYCHOLOGISTS.

In Bambi, the title character’s mom dies off-screen. The same cannot be said for Littlefoot’s mother, whose slow demise goes on for several agonizing minutes. Naturally, there was some concern about how children would react to this. “A lot of research went into the mother dying sequence,” Pomeroy said. “Psychologists were approached and shown the film. They gave their professional opinions of how the sequence could be depicted.” Thus, Rooter was born.

One scene after Littlefoot’s mom passes, the wise reptile consoles him, saying “You’ll always miss her, but she’ll always be with you as long as you remember the things she taught you.” Sharp-eared fans might recognize Rooter’s voice as that of Pat Hingle, who also narrates the movie.

7. JAMES HORNER DID THE SOUNDTRACK.

The late, Oscar-winning composer behind Braveheart (1995), Titanic (1997), and Avatar (2009) put together a soaring score. Along with lyricist Will Jennings, he also penned the original song “If We Hold On Together,” which Diana Ross sings as the end credits roll.

8. THE ACTRESS BEHIND DUCKY PASSED AWAY BEFORE THE MOVIE’S RELEASE.

Judith Barsi’s career was off to a great start. By age 10, this daughter of Hungarian immigrants had already appeared in 70 commercials and voiced the leading lady in Don Bluth’s All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989). For The Land Before Time, Barsi voiced the ever-optimistic Ducky, which was reportedly her favorite role. Then tragedy struck: In July of 1988, Barsi’s father József murdered both her and her mother before taking his own life.

9. IT HAD A RECORD-SETTING OPENING WEEKEND.

From the get-go, The Land Before Time had some stiff competition. Universal released it on November 18, 1988—the same day that Disney’s Oliver & Company hit theaters. Yet, for a solid month, Bluth gave Oliver a box office beating. The Land Before Time enjoyed the highest-grossing opening weekend that any animated film had ever seen, pulling in $7.5 million to Oliver & Company’s $4 million. Since then, of course, The Land Before Time has long been dethroned; today, Incredibles 2 (2018) holds this coveted distinction with a $182.7 million first-weekend showing.

10. THERE ONCE WAS TALK OF A LAND BEFORE TIME STAGE MUSICAL.

“The time has come for dinosaurs on Broadway,” the late theatrical producer Irving Welzer told The New York Times in 1997. Emboldened by the recent cinematic success of Spielberg’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1996), Welzer expressed an interest helping Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky, and the rest of the gang make their Big Apple debut. Soon, however, the idea faded.

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