Arnold Schwarzenegger on The Terminator, Genisys and inspiring millions

  • Breaking
  • 09/06/2015

In the small Austrian village of Thal, Arnold Schwarzenegger was born on July 30, 1947. He would go on to become one of the most recognisable people on the planet.

Winning his first Mr Universe title at age 20, Schwarzenegger became arguably the greatest bodybuilder of all time, with several records and Mr Olympia wins to his name. Then he moved into acting.

After a few minor roles, one of which won him a Golden Globe, Schwarzenegger's breakthrough film was Conan the Barbarian in 1982. He then became the biggest action movie hero in the world, starring in the Terminator franchise, Commando, Predator, Total Recall, The Running Man, True Lies and Last Action Hero, among others.

He also branched out into comedy with films like Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Jingle All the Way and Junior.

In the 2000s, Schwarzenegger left acting to become the governor of California, which has the largest population and economy of all the United States. He ruled for more than two full terms.

In 2011, Schwarzenegger left politics and returned to acting. He has made huge contributions to various charities, become a powerful motivational speaker and continues to promote bodybuilding and fitness.

Schwarzenegger has always been my favourite movie star. Recently, I got to meet him and ask him a few questions ahead of the release of his next film, Terminator Genisys.

The conversation went as follows.

A little over 30 years ago, you sat down in a cafe in Venice Beach with James Cameron to have your first talk about a movie called The Terminator. Did you ever imagine it what it would become?
No. There's no way you could imagine that. You know, I'm a very optimistic guy and I always had big visions. But this is way beyond what anyone thought of. [Not] James Cameron, nor the studio, nor anyone else ever thought it would even have a sequel. We just looked it and said, this is actually a nice, small movie. It had like a $6 million budget, we had to shoot it very quickly in seven weeks or something like that. Then it became one of the top 10 movies of the year, voted by Time magazine, then the sequel was the highest grossing movie of 1992. Then subsequently we had Terminator 3 and Terminator 4, now we're doing Terminator 5. It has become really one of the most popular franchises, period.

A lot of Terminator fans were disappointed with Salvation. They're not going to be disappointed with Genisys, right?
Well since I was not in the fourth Terminator, I don't have to justify for its shortcomings or anything like this. [Genisys] basically is not related at all to any of that. [It starts off retelling] the first Terminator, it gets to a certain scene, then it goes in a different direction altogether. This is what makes this movie appealing, I think the scriptwriters did a great job. The Terminator fans are excited to see another Terminator movie, and we've made sure not to disappoint the Terminator fans. The director, the producer, the studio - everyone has done an extraordinary job on it. We also got some help from some Australian actors, which was really great. Jai Courtney was fantastic, Jason Clarke is a great, great actor and has done an extraordinary job. So I think the people will be surprised.

Your films were a source of constant joy as I was growing up, but in recent years your whole life has become an inspiring force. Your autobiography is amazing and you did a commencement speech a couple of years ago; there's a three-minute version of that online and I listen to it every day. It's very helpful. How important to your legacy is inspiring people?
You know, this was something that I never set out to do. In the beginning when I wanted to be a bodybuilding champion, I wanted to be the greatest bodybuilder of all time. I always set my goals really high. But then when you achieve those things, you realise you actually have the opportunity to use this star power and experience that you have, to teach others. Because you were taught by somebody - we don't create ourselves, we always get help from someone else. So I took that responsibility to go and inspire others, to go on this fitness crusade. Now I've become an inspirational speaker, I've done many seminars, I've written books on how to be successful, how to become a champion and all those things. It's been actually really great to do that, besides all the other stuff I've done.

You were a farmboy from small-town Austria, who became a world champion bodybuilder, the biggest movie star in the world and the governor of California. What would you say to a young person in New Zealand with big dreams?
Well I've always thought that the most important thing is that we have big dreams, and you must take those dreams seriously. There's a reason why they're in front of us, why we think about them and visualise certain things. We should go after those things. The key thing is to not pay any attention to the naysayers. There are too many people around that will always tear you down, or try to convince you that you're crazy and just have imaginary dreams. [They'll tell you] to just go to work and do something like everybody else does. Don't listen to that. I always say to people, don't listen to the naysayers. You can make it, all you have to have is just a clear vision of where you want to go and you go after that.

On behalf of all your fans in New Zealand, thank you so much for all the joy you've brought us over the years through your films.
Thank you very much.


Terminator Genisys opens in New Zealand on July 1.

Watch the full interview with Schwarzenegger.

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