Skip to content

Advice for the Would-Be Action Movie Star

Based on Arnold Schwarzenegger Films

By Terry Fleming • September 07, 2023

Arnold Schwarzenegger's new self-help book Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life is releasing October 10. In it, he gives an "inspirational tour" through his "toolkit for a meaningful life." In anticipation of this title, we decided to study his films to give advice to would-be action-movie stars on how to choose their roles. Here, in no particular order, is what we came up with:

Advice: When throwing a grenade, make sure at least three men go flying when it explodes.

Taken from Arnold's film Commando.

Arnold and Sylvester Stallone had an infamous rivalry for action movie star supremacy in the eighties. When Stallone's mega hit Rambo: First Blood Part II established a high bar for paramilitary action movies, Arnold responded with Commando. Whereas Stallone's Rambo was able to take down helicopters with a bow and arrow, Arnold was able to launch multiple men into the stratosphere with a simple grenade.

Advice: Get a kick-ass catchphrase.

Taken from Arnold's film The Terminator.

Clint Eastwood had "Go Ahead Make My Day" (from the film Sudden Impact). Stallone had "You're the Disease and I'm the Cure" (from the film Cobra). William Shatner had, weirdly, "I've Seen the Past and It Works" (from T.J. Hooker). But arguably, the best catchphrase of any action hero is Arnold's "I'll Be Back," originally uttered in The Terminator, and then in fifty thousand of his movies afterwards, till it went beyond a caricature of itself to something outside the galactic boundaries of annoyance to a place almost sacred. Almost.

Advice: When an actor criticizes you, hire him to be the villain in your next movie.

Taken from Arnold's film Eraser.

Legendary actor James Caan once criticized Arnold in an interview, saying, in essence, that Arnold was an effective action-movie automaton, but not a REAL actor in any serious sense. So how did Arnold respond? He approved of Caan being cast as the villain in his film Eraser. And let's just say without getting too spoiler-y, Arnold got his revenge for Caan's critique.

Advice: Do things on film worthy of an SNL parody.

Taken from Arnold's film Pumping Iron.

Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon famously created the characters Hans and Franz on Saturday Night Live as parodies of Arnold (they were also his distant cousinsArnold even appeared with them on the show). As heavily muscled body-building life coaches, their constant promise to "pump you up" was taken directly from the documentary that introduced Arnold to the world (as a multiple Mr. Olympia champion) Pumping Iron.

Advice: Make sure your sequel is better than the original.

Taken from Arnold's film Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Though Arnold didn't follow this advice from Terminator 3 onward, there's no doubt that Terminator 2: Judgment Day was a huge leap in quality from The Terminator, thus cementing Arnold as the number one action-movie star in the world.

Advice: If another character is vying for the affection of your movie wife, make sure he's a total fool.

Taken from Arnold's film True Lies.

True Lies was Arnold's first foray into spy movies (in Raw Deal he's an FBI agent, not a spy), and his work as a secret agent puts a strain on his marriage to Jamie Lee Curtis. Enter Bill Paxton as a car salesman trying to seduce her. Complete with cheesy mustache, false bravado, and mid-life crisis ride, Paxton's character was cringier than M*A*S*H's Frank Burns. Always a good thing for the would-be action-movie star to be the obvious better choice in a romantic triangle.

Advice: Always take a role (instantly, without a moment's hesitation) that allows you to answer the following to the question "What is best in life?"

A: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.

Taken from Arnold's film Conan the Barbarian.

This requires no explanation.

Advice: When you expand your horizons to comedy, play a fraternal twin. Oh, and make sure you're the more attractive one.

Taken from Arnold's film Twins.

Also, it helps if you’re the funnier one, too. Unfortunately for Arnold, it's hard to top Danny DeVito, who played his fraternal twin in Twins. Better luck next time.

Advice: Be stealthier than an invisible alien.

Taken from Arnold's film Predator.

Predator is another movie than spawned a bazillion inferior sequels (though the film Predators is the next best). In it, Arnold and a team of commandos are hunted by an alien with the ability to blend into the environment. It picks them off, one by one, till Arnold figures out how to be invisible back, and thus the slaying field is levelled.

What lesson has Arnold taught you?

Read more by Terry Fleming

Leave a Comment

Copyright © 2023 Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Do Not Sell/Share My Personal Information | Cookie Policy | Cookie Preferences | Accessibility Statement
ThriftBooks® and the ThriftBooks® logo are registered trademarks of Thrift Books Global, LLC
GoDaddy Verified and Secured