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The World According to Arnold

Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger knows what he wants—and usually gets it.
David Shaw
From the Print Edition:
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Summer 96

(continued from page 5)

 

Schwarzenegger will concede only that the problems of the inner cities require bipartisan solutions. "You can't keep going back to those old rules--'this is the conservative way, this is the liberal way,'" he says. "I think it takes both sides working together to solve the problem." He ticks off his priorities: "Promote heavily the whole idea of family, rebuild education, create jobs, make people feel proud of the work they're doing.

 

"It's all an outgrowth of the decay of the family," he says again. "Many children and teenagers in America's inner cities have no parental role models, so the only people they emulate are those they meet on the streets."

He talks about his visits to all 50 states on behalf of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and about how discouraging it was to try to talk about physical fitness to "kids who hadn't had breakfast, weren't even washed." He seems truly moved, genuinely upset. "How do these children ever make it when they don't even have the first initial shot at it? So that generation is wasting away. So they will bring their kids up this way."

He's interrupted by a knock on the door. Stankard is here with a man who sells Cuban cigars to many movers and shakers in Hollywood. He asks Schwarzenegger what kind of cigars he likes.

 

"Whatever I can get for free," he says, laughing.

 

Mr. Habana pulls out a leather cigar holder and gives him a choice of three brands of double coronas. Schwarzenegger takes the Hoyo de Monterrey. Then Mr. Habana opens two large canvas bags and starts pulling out box after box of Cuban cigars--Cohiba, Punch, Partagas, Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, Saint Luis Rey, Hoyo de Monterrey, Quai d'Orsay. Schwarzenegger asks how he knows they aren't fake.

 

"My guys guarantee it. If you smoke two or three and don't like it, I give you all your money back."

Schwarzenegger says he remembers the time he bought 10 boxes of Davidoff Havanas--Dom Perignons--in London, right after seeing men loading hundreds of boxes into a Saudi prince's Rolls-Royce. "I figured somebody knew there was going to be a shortage," he says.

 

Mr. Habana tells him the Dom Perignons now sell for $3,000 to $4,000 a box--"if you can find them." (Editor's note: The going rate is closer to $2,500 per box of 25.)

 

Schwarzenegger buys two boxes of cigars--Punch and Hoyo de Monterrey-- for considerably less money ($700) "for a friend's birthday," then says goodbye to the salesman and invites me to visit his "exercise trailer."

 

Schwarzenegger remains very committed to bodybuilding. In a few days, he'll fly to Columbus, Ohio, to oversee the Arnold Fitness Expo '96, a three-day international bodybuilding competition and martial arts/physical fitness exhibition. On a more personal level, he generally works out at least an hour a day, no matter where he is--either at home or in a gym or, when he's filming, in this 40-foot trailer that "follows me everywhere." He likes the discipline and the feeling of being fit, and he finds exercise an antidote for the brief black moods he says he sometimes falls prey to. "Maria will see me grumpy and say, 'Why don't you go have a workout.'" Given the kinds of roles he usually plays on-screen, he also thinks it's vital that his physical appearance remain credible, that he looks capable of performing the feats of physical derring-do that the scripts so often call for.

The trailer is strictly utilitarian, nothing fancy--two Life Cycles, more than a dozen weight machines, several of his movie and bodybuilding posters on the wall. When we walk out, we bump into Jeff Dawn, his makeup man on several films. Schwarzenegger introduces us and praises Dawn lavishly. Then, as we're walking away, he says over his shoulder, "By the way, the other guy made me up today." Pause. Grin. "He was better than you."

 

People have told me that Schwarzenegger enjoys teasing and bantering and playing practical jokes on the set--he once dumped a pitcher of ice water on a screenwriter's crotch--and this is my first, albeit mild exposure to it. People have also told me that Schwarzenegger is very detail-conscious, and I'm about to see that, too.

 

We walk onto the Eraser set. Schwarzenegger looks at a small monitor showing film of a dummy in a parachute being approached by an airplane. The dummy is a stand-in for Schwarzenegger; the plane is supposed to hit him in midair. Or try to. Schwarzenegger watches the brief sequence once and immediately notices that the dummy appears to be higher above the ground later in the sequence than it is earlier. That's wrong. As he falls, he should get lower. A technician explains that the sequence looks as it does because "the scenes were shot with two different lenses." Schwarzenegger is not mollified. "That's fine," he says, "but the audience will notice the inconsistency, and you can't hand out a brochure to everyone in the theater, explaining that you used a different lens. You have to make it look realistic, like I'm getting lower."

 

We leave, and not long after, Schwarzenegger is called for his next scene, to be filmed inside an airplane. Schwarzenegger's co-star, James Caan, knows that for the airplane-chases-man-in-parachute scene, Schwarzenegger has spent a great deal of time recently being filmed while hanging from the ceiling of the sound stage, suspended in an intricate leather harness that's left his chest black and blue from the pressure.

 

"So, Arnold," Caan says, a malicious grin splitting his face, "you been doing some more hanging today?"

 

Before Schwarzenegger can reply, another actor pipes up: "Arnold's already well-hung."

 

Titters abound.

The assistant director calls for quiet--"and action!" This scene is largely Caan's; in it, Schwarzenegger is supposed to get up from his seat on the plane, walk slowly toward Caan, pick up a bottle of water and answer a question during a conversation between Caan and another actor. But the camera is rolling and Schwarzenegger hasn't moved.

 

Caan looks at him, the same grin in place. "Action means you, you fucking putz--you come and get the bottle of water." Everyone bursts into laughter. Director Chuck Russell yells, "Cut!" Then they run through the scene again. And again. And again. Nine times in all. It's never quite perfect. After the ninth take, Russell says, "Excellent. I really like that. Really good performances.


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