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Carl Sagan
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Arnold Schwarzenegger
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SCHWARZENEGGER, ARNOLD
(1947– ). Austrian actor.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Acted in as Arnold Strong: Hercules: The Movie [Hercules in New York] (Arthur A. Seidelman 1970);

Acted in as Arnold Schwarzenegger: Conan, the Barbarian (John Milius 1982); Conan, the Destroyer (Richard FLEISCHER 1984); The Terminator (James CAMERON 1984); Red Sonja (Fleischer 1986); Predator (John McTiernan 1987); The Running Man (Paul Michael Glaser 1987); Total Recall (Paul VERHOEVEN 1989); Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Cameron 1991); Last Action Hero (and produced) (McTiernan 1993); True Lies (Cameron 1994); Junior (Ivan Reitman 1994); Eraser (Charles Russell 1996); T2 3D: Battle through Time (short film for amusement park ride) (John Bruno, Cameron, and Stan WINSTON 1996); Batman and Robin (Joel SCHUMACHER 1997); Total Recall 2070 (tv series) (1999); End of Days (Peter HYAMS 1999); The Sixth Day (and produced) (Roger Spottiswoode 2000); Dr. Dolittle 2 (animated; voice) (Steve Carr 2001); Liberty's Kids (animated tv series; voice) (2002); Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (and produced, uncredited) (Jonathan Mostow 2003); Around the World in Eighty Days (Frank Coraci 2003).

Directed: "The Switch" (and appeared in) (1990), episode of Tales from the Crypt.

Appeared in documentaries: The Making of The Terminator (and hosted) (tv) (Drew Cummings 1984); The Making of Total Recall (tv) (1990); The Making of The Terminator: A Retrospective (video) (Jeff McQueen 1992); The Making of Terminator 2: Judgment Day (tv) (David G. Hudson and Ed W. Marsh 1992); A Century of Science Fiction (video) (Ted Newsom 1996); Arnold Schwarzenegger: Hollywood Hero (tv) (Todd Baker 1999); End of Days: The Beginning (video) (2000); The Making of Terminator 2: 3-D (tv) (Ted Garvey 2000); Other Voices: Creating The Terminator (video) (Van Ling 2001); If It Bleeds We Can Kill It: The Making of Predator (video) (2001); Imagining Total Recall (Jeffrey Schwartz 2001).

 
Of course, it was all a plot. Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger longed to enter American politics, most likely beginning with a campaign for Ronald Reagan's old job as governor of California. But the essential prerequisite for such a shift in vocations is a failed acting career, as was achieved by Reagan, George Murphy, Fred Grandy, and others who sought elective office only when they could no longer land attractive screen roles. A successful film actor will inevitably find it impossible to walk away from million-dollar contracts and international adulation for the more spartan glamour of press conferences and the rubber-chicken circuit; hence, after a promising start as mayor of Carmel, California, Clint Eastwood's political career fizzled because his movies continued to be box-office smashes. To avoid this unpalatable fate, Schwarzenegger set out to sabotage his own enviable position, deliberately choosing projects that would be spectacular bombs so he would drop off of Hollywood's A-list, receive fewer and fewer irresistibly lucrative film offers, and thus face no impediments to entering politics.

Does this scheme seem too convoluted, too Machiavellian, for a mere film actor to undertake? Yet Schwarzenegger's most impressive muscles were always those inside of his skull. With half a dozen strikes against him—including a thick Austrian accent, a cumbersome last name, an unfashionably muscle-bound look, and absolutely no acting ability—he slowly but surely conquered the film industry, making himself a dominating presence by means of his hard work, persistence, and brilliant decisions. And one of those brilliant decisions was to specialize in fantasy and science fiction films, where he could learn his craft amidst colorful special effects that rendered his gaffes less noticeable.

While more than a little clumsiness is still evident in his performances as Conan, Schwarzenegger deployed his embryonic talents to great effect in The Terminator, as his laconic robot killer emerged as a cultural icon and the phrase "I'll be back" became his defining catch-phrase. He steadily developed a distinctive screen persona as a tough, cool customer in Predator, The Running Man, and the action films Raw Deal (1986) and Red Heat (1988), then cautiously but capably advanced into new territory, doing comedy in Twins (1988) and alternating scenes of killing people with scenes of bonding with adorable little moppets in Kindergarten Cop (1990). Rarely bothering to take a producer credit, Schwarzenegger came to exercise complete control over his films anyway, and after the double-barreled global triumphs of Total Recall and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Schwarzenegger had apparently reached the very pinnacle of his profession.

So, how does one explain his decidedly uneven track record from 1992 to 2000, with only two films—True Lies and Eraser—that were really suited to his strengths? One can develop specific theories to account for specific failures. Even in his most popular films, Schwarzenegger was never quite persuasive as a family man, and one of the many false notes in Kindergarten Cop was his final decision to give up police work for a full-time job teaching kindergarten; hence, films that depended on his credibility as a compassionate parental figure, like Jingle All the Way (1996) or The Sixth Day, were unlikely to be satisfying. Perhaps Schwarzenegger was anxious to interrogate and deepen his screen persona, which could explain Last Action Hero, an action film that tells his audience that action films are empty, superficial entertainments for brainless morons, thus guaranteeing its own failure. Perhaps he briefly believed that he could do no wrong, leading to his inexplicable and unappealing turn as a pregnant man in Junior. Perhaps he was simply growing lazy and inattentive, so that he didn't demand a rewrite of the screenplay for Batman and Robin that would make his villainous Mr. Freeze less of an idiot and numbly learned his lines for End of Days without noticing its innumerable logical flaws and unworkable conclusion. But all of these explanations boil down to saying that Schwarzenegger was becoming stupid in managing his film career, and I find that very hard to believe—hence, the need for my conspiracy theory.

And it worked. After agreeing to a project that would bring his career to a reasonably successful and dignified conclusion—the serviceable though predictable Terminator 3—Schwarzenegger plunged into the California recall election as a gubernatorial candidate and vanquished all his opponents with his usual effortless efficiency, despite last-minute scandals involving alleged sexual harassment of women and his purported admiration for Adolf Hitler. Having thus triumphed in his greatest role, Terminator 4: Election Day, Schwarzenegger seems well positioned for future successes, with only Article II of the Constitution standing between him and the Presidency of the United States. And if this seems an unlikely role for the Austrian-born Schwarzenegger, one must remember that, twenty years ago, "famous Hollywood actor" would have seemed an equally unlikely role for him to play. Hasta la vista, America.

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