July 2003
Terminator 3 : Rise of the Machines : An Interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger

Interviewed by Wilson Morales

Terminator 3 : Rise of the Machines: An Interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger

Itís always hard when one wants to make a change in the Hollywood industry. If folks know and love you for the persona you created on screen, it sometimes becomes difficult to accept something new. Jim Carrey, for example, is loved by everyone whenever he does a comedy film. It shows at the box office. When he does a dramatic film, the numbers are not the same, not even in the same ballpark. Arnold Scharwzenegger came up in the game and was first notice when he did Conan the Barbarian. He then followed that with the role that made his internationally famous as The Terminator. He had a few hits and misses before the sequel T2: Judgment Day put him in the $20M payday range. No other film since then has come close to numbers he made with T2. He even tried his hand at comedy with the flop Jingle All the Way. Now, in what some may a comeback performance, Arnold returns to the role that started it all for him in T3: Rise of the Machines. In an interview with blackfilm.com, Arnold talks about his feelings towards the franchise and his thoughts on getting into politics.

WM: Iím sure you still work out physically, but itís been 12 years since you last played the character. Was getting in shape a big concern for you?

AS: I think one of the main concerns that I had right at the beginning was can I get my body back in shape where it was twenty years ago in Terminator 1; and twelve years ago in Terminator 2 so it was a challenge. Obviously times have changed and I put together a program and went back to the gym and trained two to three hours a day for several months. Even while I was filming, anytime it was available I used a half hour here, an hour there working out with weights to make sure that I come in great shape and not disappoint the fans and not disappoint myself.

WM: Was there any concern to play the part due to your age?

AS: I don't have the same choice of the average person out there who can say, 'well things have changed' and therefore I'm not just older now and I have a different body now. When you have millions of people look at your body you have to produce the same body no matter what it takes. It took a lot of training and a lot of effort not to think about the obstacles that I had a motorcycle accident or that I had surgery. You just forget about all this and live in denial and say, 'OK this is my training now for the Mr. Olympia competition or the Mr. Universe competition' and I have to be in best shape because I have to win the competition. So with that kind of mentality I approached the whole training. The thing is when you have had the muscle size once then it is easier to get it back. It's just a matter of stimulating the muscles and giving it the necessary weight resistance in order to get back, and you have to be much stricter on a diet. When you think about the changes it's really your metabolism. Everyone's metabolism after the age of 40 slows down and everything that you eat will make it easier for you to gain weight and get fat and so I just ate chicken and turkey and meats and fish and vegetables, and not eat the things that I love to eat which is bread, ice cream, apple strudel and all of those things. Just stay away from that and make the movie more important than just what I like to eat!

WM: Did you worry about the risks involved with the production of the film?

AS: If you go through life worrying about the risks then you will never accomplish anything. The only way you can accomplish things is if you're willing to take risks. That's the story of my life. Being able and willing to take risks, and to go beyond of anyone else has gone and to not think of limits. To me there was never a question should I do Terminator 3 or should I not because there was such a demand amongst the fans worldwide that they wanted to see another Terminator. As a matter of fact in the second Terminator when I'm battered and half destroyed even though I'm beaten and I let myself in the steel people thought this is the end of the story only to find out as soon as the movie left the theaters there was this campaign, when do we get to see another Terminator. There was not one interview that I could do if it was for Special Olympics or the after school program or for the President's Council on Fitness or anything else or for anything movie I was promoting where the first question was not, 'are you going to do another Terminator. When are you going to say I am back.' I knew there was a tremendous demand for the character and for the movie so I was looking forward to the time where I could again put on that leather jacket and put on those sunglasses and my motorcycle and go crazy out there and be the machine.

WM: Will you consider coming back once again to another sequel if there is one?

AS: It's important to know that I love this character and I will continue to come back as long as the fans enjoy seeing me back. I totally operate by what the fans want, not what I want. So I'm all ready for the next one.

WM: Throughout your career, you have dabbled in the comedy genre. Did you have a say in adding some comedic elements to the film?

AS: I feel very strongly that it makes the movie much more colorful and have much more dimensions when you create a kind of funny moment through the suspense and all of the drama, you want some relief of that. What is in the middle of a fight scene where there's something funny coming up works ten times better than if you set up a big joke and then something funny happens and it falls flat. In this movie it's very subtle that the comic relief comes through and it's important part of the Terminator that you create funny circumstances and makes people laugh in the tensest moments.

WM: I heard at some point that your fingers almost were ďtoast.Ē Can you talk about that?

AS: Accidents happen often in a movie set especially when you deal with explosions and stunts. There was one scene where I carried the casket down the hill and it was the same time I was shooting at the police officers and blowing up their vehicles and destroying everything that's in front of me and they're shooting back. The whole casket was loaded up with little explosions that would go off and the idea was to put one underneath my hand. In the middle of the shoot I felt this unbelievable pain and this explosion going off underneath my finger and I'm absolutely convinced that if I wouldn't have had thick leather gloves, my finger would've come off with that. It was unbelievably bruised for a long time and I had to get medical attention for it.

WM: What does your future hold in politics?

AS: I'm looking forward to doing many more films. Right now we're getting to do 'West World' so we're moving forward with full steam. I don't see why I should be stopping at this point. The political side of it is something I can think about as time goes on. I said that if the time is right and if there's a need for me then I would be more than happy to jump in but it's nothing I have to worry about right now.

WM: What are your thoughts towards technology?

AS: We have to appreciate technology and appreciate the computerization and the sophistication and the way we can utilize it today. I think technology has helped the world hugely in a big way but use it and not to have a certain kind of safety net there where we cannot go beyond a certain point is a key thing here because you can abuse anything. Anything that is good you can also abuse and then it becomes bad. What you see is Terminator is technology gets to a point where machines start communicating with one another and you don't want to get to that point where they start becoming self aware. Like The Frankenstein story when you create something for one reason and then all of a sudden you realize he's a monster and now you have to reign it back in again and save the human race which is what happens in The Terminator.

WM: Can you talk about your campaign for after school funding?

AS: I was just back in Washington testifying on Capitol Hill in favor of more after school programs in the country and in favor of not cutting them. We also had for the first time in the history of the department of education an after school program summit that was hosted by Secretary Page and myself. We had all the leading experts come together so we have clear understanding of what is accountability and what ought to be a comprehensive after school program so that everyone who gets federal funding knows what it is, what the standard is and how you can get the money. The campaign was not to cut any of the funding. I don't think it will be cut but I'm a very optimistic person. Congress is going to put it back in and I think there will be no cuts.

WM: How are you dealing with political press?

AS: I've noticed in my entire program for Proposition 49, the After School Education and Safety Act last year and also campaigning for after school programs all over the country, that in the political arena you have a different kind of press. As it is with the entertainment press you will have good journalism and you will have some that are not as good, some are negative and don't like what you do and some that do. That's just the way it always is; I think nothing changes. Anytime you want to accomplish anything it's never a downhill race, it's a slalom course. You go around your obstacles and try to overcome them and whoever gets there wins. That's what it's all about.

WM: What was the biggest challenge in doing this film? Was it fighting against a woman?

AS: What was challenging about doing it with a woman were the fight scenes. I had no training of how you grab a woman, how you throw her against a wall, how hard can you really pick her up and throw her. How hard can you hit her? I had to rely on Kristanna (Loken) to tell me that you can go harder, you can grab me rougher, you can imagine a guy standing in front of you. It took five or six takes to get up to that level of rough handling her because I felt uncomfortable with it. She was a great team player. She trained well with the stunt coordinators that she could handle it and she didn't mind taking a few bruises and pains and aches here and there. She just went for it.

WM: What do you is James Cameronís take on the film?

AS: He has a part of him that wants the movie to succeed and a part of him that wants it to fail. He has mixed emotions because he started it and I think this one time-wise it didn't work out and he didn't want to be part of it under those constraints that it has to be a summer movie 2003 and he has to do it. He doesn't operate that way. I totally appreciate that. Jim Cameron and are very good friends and we have stayed good friends over all these years and we ride the motorcycle almost every Sunday morning together and we have a blast.

WM: With all that you are currently doing, why do you still make movies?

AS: I think there is something very challenging to be able to play out a certain character and to have everyone else on the set do the same and put this whole thing together to become a movie and entertain millions of people in the world. It's such a wonderful thing because I think most of people's lives are not as perfect as they wish they could be so for them it's great escapism and they get great joy out of it. When people go to see The Terminator so many people feel powerless; they feel things are not going the right way. So here's two hours where they can watch a movie and fantasize wouldn't it be cool to be The Terminator and I go back to my office and really show them who is the boss. The kids think wouldn't it be cool like my son who would like to take a Terminator and show off and say, 'hey walk through this wall.' Everyone has there fantasies or if it's a love story or great animated movie so you know when you go to the set every morning and you do your scenes that you're providing something positive for people and they have great joy with it.