He’s back. Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t kid around about this kind of thing. “Of course, I needed to come back!” he said of his signature role. “I’m addicted to the Terminator.”
By addicted, he doesn’t mean he has to play the role every year. He’s just fond of his T800 alter ego in a grateful sort of way. “Terminator was the movie that really launched my action movie career,” he said. “From that moment on, everything changed in my life.”
His life in a sentence: Seven-time Mr. Olympia, Conan, Terminator and the two-term governor of California. He’s also one of the most motivating people in the world. Tell him that you didn’t work out for a week, and he will call you out on it: “You don’t need a gym. Get out there and run or walk. Next excuse!” Arnold commands.
In the new “Terminator: Dark Fate,” the big guy, who is now 72 years old, resumes his role in a story about Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and a hybrid cyborg human who are tasked with protecting a young girl from a modified liquid Terminator.
By the way, if Schwarzenegger had his way, he would save the world forever. “You will never see me retire. I’m having too much fun doing what I do,” he insists. “Relaxing just doesn’t sound like me.”
Review-Journal: What is your idea of an ideal Sunday?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: I wake up early, eat the oatmeal and then go to church. The afternoon might be a long bike ride or go swimming with my children. I will also find that time to train. Some say that Sunday is just a day of rest, and I do believe it is about church and family. But if there is more time, I say that if you can sleep and breathe on Sunday, why not train?
What do you enjoy most about playing the Terminator?
I just love this really unique character. It was one of those characters where when I first started to play Terminator, I found myself amongst the top 10 villains and scariest characters, but at the same time I was also among the top 10 heroic characters. That’s unheard of in this business to be on both lists. I feel very indebted to Jim Cameron for creating this character and these movies.
When was the first time you said “I’ll be back?”
I didn’t have the foggiest idea that this would be the line that would be repeated forever. We did the scene in the first “Terminator” movie, and I said to Jim Cameron, “I will be back.” He said, “No, Arnold, why don’t you say, ‘I’ll be back.” I said, “No, there feels something wrong about saying, I’ll …” He said, “Look, I don’t correct your acting, please don’t correct my writing.” Now, it’s the number one, one-liner in movie picture history.
What motivated you as a child to achieve something so big?
I think the secret to success is having that goal. I grew up in Austria after the Second World War. We lost, and of course there was depression and a terrible economic situation. I knew I had to get out of there. One day in school, I watched a documentary about America. I knew that was my goal. Once I had the goal, it became a question of how would I get there? What did I need to do to make it work? In my case, I had no money, but I found a bodybuilding magazine. I read an article about how Mr. Universe grew up poor, but he trained five hours a day every single day. He changed his life and became a champion. I knew that even if I had to struggle, it would be worth it.
What was the first step in making it work?
We had a gym in my town, but it was locked and they didn’t allow children in there. I would go early in the morning and sneak in through a window in order to work out. Whatever it takes. Work hard for your goal and the rest of your life will fall into place.
You’ve often said that your mind is what limits your life.
The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision something, then you can do that something as long as you believe it 100 percent.
Was it always your plan to return to the big screen after your work as California’s governor?
When I got into the governorship in 2003, I said, “I will go in and run the state for seven years. Then I will be back in the movie business.” Now, I’m back living my regular life and acting, which feels right. I love to act, especially when I can do a lot of stunts and action and physical work.
Do you have a softer side?
I’m a Leo with Cancer rising, so yes. This accounts for my artistic side. If I have time, I will spend a day painting. I’m very much into decorating and arranging my home. I’ll start collecting things in case we change a certain room. Most people never see that side of me, but it’s there and I’m glad for it.
What do you make of aging?
We all look in the mirror and say, “Where did the years go? What happened?” You once had muscles and now, slowly, they’re deteriorating a bit. I’ve found if you do work out, you stay in shape and feel good. The muscles are there and you have the energy. You just have to keep moving and make the effort. Things are different as you age, but it doesn’t help to moan that your back or knees hurt. Just move on. Keep your sense of humor. That’s why I feel really good about aging.
What is your mantra these days?
I love when someone tells me it will never happen. Please tell me that it’s impossible or it can’t be done. I never listen to the naysayers. Never did. I know one thing: The day is 24 hours long. We sleep six or seven of that day. That leaves a lot of hours to follow your dreams, so don’t waste even one minute. Don’t listen to the no’s. Tell me no and I just do it anyway.