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The Q&A | Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Q&A | Arnold Schwarzenegger

We were very pleased to talk to the Terminator as his new film, The Last Stand, hits British screens. Sadly, we can’t give you the tapes, but to capture the full essence of the interview, we recommend reading it out loud in your best Arnie voice (don’t pretend you haven’t got one).

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Esquire: How does one address you these days?

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Between Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Austrian Oak, The Governator or The Governor. You choose.

ESQ: We’ll go with Mr Governator. In your new film The Last Stand, you play Sheriff Ray Owens.

AS: Yeah. It’s an underdog story about a sheriff who is at the end of his career, who has one great opportunity to again become a big shot in this town.

ESQ: And how was filming?

AS: Great. It was unique. We had
a South Korean director, Kim Jee-woon, and he had interpreters there to speak for him. He didn’t feel that his English was good enough to explain in detail the specifics of what he wanted us to do. But it worked out much better than anyone thought that it would. This was really my first film back.

ESQ: There was The Expendables

AS: I did The Expendables, but that was really a cameo — I worked on it for four days. This was a full schedule. It was great to have fun with my age. Now, there are scripts written for people in their fifties and sixties, and it’s good to take advantage of that instead of still pretending I’m 40 years old. To be heroic still, but with aches and pains.

ESQ: Does your character have any iconic Arnie sayings we can look forward to?

AS: You never really know that ahead of time. When I did “I’ll be back”, no one knew this was a line that people would want me to repeat over and over for years to come. We’ll see what it’ll be in this movie. Maybe this time some other character will have their line become iconic.

ESQ: What prompted your return to starring in movies?

AS: That was always the plan: I’d step out of the movie business for a period of time, and into the governorship. And then, when I’m finished with the governorship, go back to the movie business. If the Constitution had been different and there was a chance to run for president, I would have done that. But that was not an option because the Constitution doesn’t allow a foreign-born to run for president. I am very happy being busy with movies.

ESQ: Presumably you don’t need the money.

AS: Absolutely not. But remember: everything I’ve done in my life, I’ve always continued. Fitness, bodybuilding, all this. I’m still doing every year the world championships of bodybuilding, the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio. Now the real interest I have is to combine all the things I’ve done in life — to create a certain synergy. The Special Olympics; the After-School All-Stars, my foundation
I’ve been involved in for 20 years; the political stuff at the Schwarzenegger Institute at the University of Southern California. I connect all of those and let one benefit the other.

ESQ: You mapped out your goals from quite a young age, didn’t you?

AS: I looked at the life of my idol, [bodybuilder, businessman and actor] Reg Park, who came from Leeds. He did the Hercules movies and had a wonderful family. His story was in a magazine, and I felt that this was my blueprint. I wanted that life.

ESQ: You had photos of Reg Park on your bedroom wall.

AS: Yeah, mainly every photograph I could get. My mother was a little taken aback by that — while other boys had pin-up girls and Playboy bunnies hanging on their walls, I had semi-naked men. I had Sonny Liston hanging there, Muhammad Ali — anyone who was heroic. I was planning to get inspired by all of these guys. She thought that there was something wrong about me, and called the house doctor. He said, “This is quite normal — he’s a heroic kid, he idolises heroic people and people who accomplish a lot, it’s actually very good and healthy.” I think she eventually calmed down.

ESQ: Looking back on your life
and careers, what are you most proud of?

AS: Having done the autobiography [Total Recall, out last October], I had to go back in my life and re-live it. You are shocked by a lot of things. Making the commitment to go to America — having the balls to do it. I don’t know what was in me to go it alone to a foreign continent, not speaking the language that well, and settle in Los Angeles and start living there. It’s things like that. Or was it the determination and belief that I’d be a leading man in the movies, despite people saying there’s no one in America who became a lead in movies with an accent? But I don’t spend much time thinking back. I like to move forward.

ESQ: Sure.

AS: And in my personal life, I was very fortunate to end up with a terrific woman, to have four extraordinary kids with her. You remember these moments. Childbirth, being at the hospital for the first time, the baby coming out. Moments like that.

ESQ: You’ve written very openly about your relationship with Maria Shriver and your affair with your housekeeper.

AS: Right.

ESQ: You’ve said that it’s the worst thing you’ve ever done, and that you’re optimistic that you and Maria will be together again.

AS: Right.

ESQ: Is that still the case?

AS: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

ESQ: Really?

AS: Maria and I are still in touch. If you’ve got kids, you’d better be in touch. But Maria and I have a great relationship. We’ve never had a fight about anything. This [affair] is just something that was my doing. So we have a good relationship. I think she makes a real effort. We work together on the kids, to raise them together. We talk pretty much every day.

ESQ: Do you think your infidelity was connected to your desire to be a high achiever?

AS: I try not to come up with excuses. It is what it is.

ESQ: You’re 65. Do you feel it?

AS: No. I don’t. I feel young and energetic, but you do notice your age when you are doing physical things. You need a little more time to recuperate and recover.

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The Last Stand is out on 25th January
Interview by Max Olesker

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