15 Things You May Not Have Known About Conan the Barbarian

You already know Arnold looks like a million bucks in Conan, but these facts may help you appreciate his sword-wielding majesty in a new light.

1. The film’s opening Nietzsche epigraph is misquoted. The original quote is “What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.” The movie’s quote is actually, weirdly enough, a paraphrase of Nietzsche that Watergate break-in mastermind G. Gordon Liddy made during his autobiography book tour in 1980.

2. Conan the Barbarian is co-written by Wall Street and Platoon director Oliver Stone, who himself was originally slated to co-direct. Other directors on the short list for the job—before it was given to John Milius—were John Frankenheimer, Sam Peckinpah, Alan Parker, and Ridley Scott.

3. Milius originally knew nothing about the Conan the Barbarian character, and signed on to direct because he always wanted to make a Viking movie.

4. Milius’ original storyline for Conan was a trilogy involving a sword metaphor. The first was about the strength of the sword, the second was about how to wield the sword, and the third was about the consequences the sword wrought. To date, Milius has only been involved with one Conan movie. A sequel, Conan the Destroyer, was released in 1984 and a reboot, also called Conan the Barbarian, came out in 2011.

5. Charles Bronson and Sylvester Stallone both turned down the Conan role.

6. Producers met Arnie when he was doing press for the film Pumping Iron, and thought he was perfect for the look of the barbarian.

7. Thulsa Doom, the evil sorcerer played by James Earl Jones, was originally a character in “Kull the Conqueror,” another pulp fiction series from Conan creator Robert E. Howard. Milius wanted Jones’ character to resemble the last member of an otherworldly race that had all but died out.

8. The name of Conan’s female companion Valeria, played by actress Sandahl Bergman, is never said during the film. Bergman was cast because director John Milius saw her as a dancer in director Bob Fosse’s film All That Jazz, and Milius thought she could give the rough and tumble Valeria a ballerina’s sense of movement.

9. Bergman’s finger was nearly cut off during a fight scene. Instead of asking if the actress was okay, Milius allegedly shouted, “Valeria [her character] would never let that happen!” Schwarzenegger seriously injured his knee on set when he was thrown from a horse. Despite barely being able to walk, the real-life tough guy finished the last weeks of shooting.

10. Schwarzenegger was originally supposed to narrate the film. Producers switched the duties over fear his accent was too thick.

11. The production was slated to be shot entirely in Yugoslavia, where pre-production was set up for four months—but the country’s uneasy political atmosphere caused filming to be delayed for six months before the production moved to Spain.

12. The film was shot in Spain’s Madrid and Almeria regions over five months.

13. The two primary swords in the film—Conan’s father’s sword and the sword he takes from the Atlantean skeleton—were real 9-pound carbon steel swords that cost $100,000 each to create. They were made with blunt edges for safety reasons.  Fiberglass and aluminum copies were made of each for fight scenes.

14. The three main actors underwent a grueling two-hours-a-day, three-days-a-week fight training regimen for five months straight, taught by martial arts master Kiyoshi Yamazaki. Yamazaki makes an appearance in the film as Conan’s sword instructor from the East.

15. Schwarzenegger did all of his own stunts—the filmmakers were unable to find a matching body double his size.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
Roadside Bear Statue in Wales is So Lifelike That Safety Officials Want It Removed
iStock
iStock

Wooden bear statue.

There are no real bears in the British Isles for residents to worry about, but a statue of one in the small Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells has become a cause of concern. As The Telegraph reports, the statue is so convincing that it's scaring drivers, causing at least one motorist to crash her car. Now road safety officials are demanding it be removed.

The 10-foot wooden statue has been a fixture on the roadside for at least 15 years. It made headlines in May of 2018 when a woman driving her car saw the landmark and took it to be the real thing. She was so startled that she veered off the road and into a street sign.

After the incident, she complained about the bear to highways officials who agreed that it poses a safety threat and should be removed. But the small town isn't giving in to the Welsh government's demands so quickly.

The bear statue was originally erected on the site of a now-defunct wool mill. Even though the mill has since closed, locals still see the statue as an important landmark. Llanwrtyd Wells councilor Peter James called it an "iconic gateway of the town," according to The Telegraph.

Another town resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Telegraph that the woman who crashed her car had been a tourist from Canada where bears are common. Bear were hunted to extinction in Britain about 1000 years ago, so local drivers have no reason to look out for the real animals on the side of the road.

The statue remains in its old spot, but Welsh government officials plan to remove it themselves if the town doesn't cooperate. For now, temporary traffic lights have been set up around the site of the accident to prevent any similar incidents.

[h/t The Telegraph]

The Most Popular Infomercial Product in Each State

You don't have to pay $19.95 plus shipping and handling to discover the most popular infomercial product in each state: AT&T retailer All Home Connections is giving that information away for free via a handy map.

The map was compiled by cross-referencing the top-grossing infomercial products of all time with Google Trends search interest from the past calendar year. So, which crazy products do people order most from their TVs?

Folks in Arizona know that it's too hot there to wear layers; that's why they invest in the Cami Secret—a clip-on, mock top that gives them the look of a camisole without all the added fabric. No-nonsense New Yorkers are protecting themselves from identity theft with the RFID-blocking Aluma wallet. Delaware's priorities are all sorted out, because tons of its residents are still riding the Snuggie wave. Meanwhile, Vermont has figured out that Pajama Jeans are the way to go—because who needs real pants?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular product in many states has to do with fitness and weight loss, because when you're watching TV late enough to start seeing infomercials, you're probably also thinking to yourself: "I need to get my life together. I should get in shape." Seven states—Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin—have invested in the P90X home fitness system, while West Virginia and Arkansas prefer the gentler workout provided by the Shake Weight. The ThighMaster is still a thing in Illinois and Washington, while Total Gym and Bowflex were favored by South Dakota and Wyoming, respectively. 

Kitchen items are clearly another category ripe for impulse-buying: Alabama and North Dakota are all over the George Forman Grill; Alaska and Rhode Island are mixing things up with the Magic Bullet; and Floridians must be using their Slice-o-matics to chop up limes for their poolside margaritas.

Cleaning products like OxiClean (D.C. and Hawaii), Sani Sticks (North Carolina), and the infamous ShamWow (which claims the loyalty of Mainers) are also popular, but it's Proactiv that turned out to be the big winner. The beloved skin care system claimed the top spot in eight states—California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas—making it the most popular item on the map.

Peep the full map above, or check out the full study from All Home Connections here.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios