What the Hell Happened to Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger was an unlikely movie star.  He struggled with the English language and a thick Austrian accent.  His physique made him hard to cast in every-man roles.  And yet, for a time, he was the biggest star in Hollywood.  Eventually, he parlayed his popularity as a film star into a political career.  However, when his political career ended, Schwarzenegger’s Hollywood come-back was derailed by personal scandal.

What the hell happened?

arnie body building

Arnold Schwarzenegger – body building career

Schwarzenegger began body building at a young age.  He moved to the United States as soon as possible to compete on a global level.  As I don’t know anything at all about the sport of body building, I am going to gloss right over this phase of Schwarzenegger’s career.

The important thing is that Schwarzenegger dominated the sport.  And that it brought him to the United States.  But Schwarzenegger wasn’t satisfied with being the most famous body builder of all times.  He wanted to conquer Hollywood as he had the world of body building.

arnie - hercules

Arnold Schwarzenegger – Hercules in New York -1969

Schwarzenegger’s first film role was in the low-budget fantasy film, Hercules in New York.  Schwarzenegger was credited as “Arnold Strong” since his real name was thought to be too long for Americans to remember.  Schwarzenegger’s accent was so think that all of his dialogue was dubbed over.

It was an inauspicious start.  But it was a start.

Arnie - The Long Goodnight

Arnold Schwarzenegger – The Long Goodbye – 1973

Next, Schwarzenegger played a deaf-mute hitman in Robert Altman’s neo noir film, The Long Goodbye.

As a role that required him to be big without requiring him to speak, it played to all of his strengths while avoiding his obvious weaknesses.

arnie Stay-Hungry

Arnold Schwarzenegger – Stay Hungry – 1976

In 1976, Schwarzenegger co-starred opposite Jeff Bridges and Sally Field in the Bob Rafelson’s body building drama, Stay Hungry.

Schwarzenegger didn’t exactly have to stretch as an actor.  He played an Austrian body builder named Joe Santo who is training for the Mr. Universe competition.  Despite the fact that he was basically playing himself, Schwarzenegger won a Golden Globe for “Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture”.

This is especially odd since Stay Hungry was technically Schwarzenegger’s third film.  But since his dialogue was dubbed over in Hercules and he played a dead/mute in The Long Goodbye, Stay Hungry was the first film in which Schwarzenegger’s voice could be heard.

Next: Pumping Iron


Posted on December 2, 2012, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 277 Comments.

  1. Yes, I do think Arnold Schwarzenegger is a good actor. Wow, he took some bad films (like 1986’s “Raw Deal”) and made them kind of fun. He strikes me as one who has a power of personality; I like that (Makes sense that he went political). My favorite Arnold Film? Probably “Eraser” (it has the beautiful Vanessa Williams in it, so that helps:-).


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