The World According to Arnold
Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger knows what he wants—and usually gets it.
From the Print Edition:
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Summer 96
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Schwarzenegger lights his Cohiba with a larger version of the blow torch he used at Schatzi; the thin bolt of flame looks hot enough to incinerate the entire trailer. As we smoke and sip espresso, he talks about parenting. He didn't have an early call today--he's awaiting the call for his next scene right now--so he wanted to take four-year-old Christina to school again this morning. But she demanded that her mother accompany them. She cried and pretended to throw up. Schwarzenegger wanted time alone with her, though, and he insisted that they leave Maria behind. Christina not only got over her upset, he says--the proud parent is talking now--but once they got to school, she wrote down her numbers from one to 15 and then sounded them all out, "and then I said, out of nowhere, 'OK, sound them out in German,' and she did that, too. The teacher said 'Wow!' She was very pleased." Because of his own strict upbringing, Schwarzenegger is much more the disciplinarian with the children than Maria is. "Her upbringing was more lenient, more positive," he says. "In an Austrian home, the emphasis is on what you did wrong, what you did bad, rather than what you did well. There's a lot of things that I had to learn--to be positive, to reinforce the positive, to give kids the confidence."
A few days earlier, the Los Angeles Times had published a Valentine's Day story on several prominent couples, Schwarzenegger and Shriver among them. The story said that on the day the two met, Schwarzenegger told Maria's mother, "Your daughter has a great body." I thought that seemed a bit brazen, even for Schwarzenegger.
"Did you really say that?" I ask.
"No. I said, 'she has a nice ass.'"
As it turned out, she has more than that. But even though Schwarzenegger says he knew on their first date alone that she was the woman for him, it took nine years before he was ready to get married. He carried the engagement ring around for six months, changing his mind several times about the right moment and the right setting to propose marriage, before he finally popped the question in a rowboat on a lake, near where he grew up in Austria.
"I never saw myself as a guy that could settle down," he says. "I was always very derogatory about the station wagons that people used in the '60s and '70s, with the dog and the cat and the kids screaming--and now I'm driving around with the dogs, the puppies, the kids screaming in the back, the wife in the front seat, trying to calm everyone down."
Schwarzenegger wants to talk more about family, not just his own, but family in general, the family in trouble. I interrupt to ask how, as the father of three young children, he justifies making such gratuitously violent movies. In 1988, the National Coalition on Television Violence named him the most violent actor of the year after he averaged a mind-numbing 146 acts of violence an hour in Running Man. I tell him that I'm opposed to censorship but that I banned the TV show "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" from our house when I realized that my six-year-old son, Lucas, was much more likely to hit and kick and act aggressively after seeing it. But Schwarzenegger insists that his movies don't have a bad effect on children. His two-year-old son sees no violent movies--"not even mine"--but he "kicks everything that he sees. Things like smacking the girls in the face--he realizes he can cause damage. He picks up a frying pan and he sees everyone running from him. That's when he's in his glory," he says. "Kids have a certain amount of aggression stored away. You go through stages. Then you grow out of it."
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