No more Schwarzenegger movies?
May be tough to take acting roles while serving
Has Arnold Schwarzenegger's role as The Terminator been terminated by his election?
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 8 — Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cyborg in the “Terminator” flicks was like a cat with nine lives, snuffed at the end of one movie only to return unscarred in the next. Now that he’s California’s next governor, can Schwarzenegger have the same resilience should he choose to keep a hand in show business with cameo roles or attempt a full-scale return to movies after his political career ends?
DURING HIS VICTORY speech on Tuesday night Schwarzenegger said his celebrated status as an actor will soon be officially on hiatus. “There’ll be no time for movies or anything else,” he said. “My mind is not on movies — at all.”
However, an about-face to the big screen does not seem out of reach for such a master showman as Schwarzenegger, who has reinvented himself repeatedly, from bodybuilder to movie star to populist politico.
“If Arnold served as governor and did his thing, then if he decided to go back to Hollywood, I think he would be welcomed with open arms in the community,” said Yaphet Kotto, who co-starred with Schwarzenegger in 1987’s “The Running Man.” “He’s such a competitor, he could go right from politics to making movies.”
Time is the real enemy to Schwarzenegger’s movie career. At 56, Schwarzenegger is nearing his expiration date as a viable action hero. He is tied to the governor’s job at least for the remaining three years of Gray Davis’ term, and he could seek a full four-year term after that.
In that scenario, if he chose to return to film, Schwarzenegger would be well into his 60s, trying to revive a career whose returns have been diminishing since his glory days of the ’80s and ’90s.
This year’s “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” grossed $150 million domestically, but it was Schwarzenegger’s first hit in six years and sold barely half as many tickets as 1991’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”
Schwarzenegger has had limited success in only one other genre, comedy, with “Twins” and “Kindergarten Cop.”
“He’s been able to distinguish himself from, say, Sylvester Stallone and garden-variety action stars and reinvent himself in comic-action roles and comedy,” said Kim Masters, a film columnist for Esquire magazine. “But comic stuff is a younger man’s game to some degree.”
Schwarzenegger’s next flick was supposed to be a comedy, but that and other tentative starring roles now are off his plate. As governor of a state in deep financial trouble, Schwarzenegger realistically cannot take time off for a substantive role.
He might be able to squeeze in some quick-hit cameos, but that could still send the message that Schwarzenegger is not devoting full attention to state business, said Robert Dowling, editor and publisher of the Hollywood Reporter.
Since Ronald Reagan was elected California governor in the 1960s, the public has grown more accepting of entertainers in politics or politicians in entertainment. Richard Nixon did a “Sock it to me” bit on “Laugh-In,” Bill Clinton campaigned on “The Arsenio Hall Show” with saxophone in hand, and wrestler-turned-Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura returned to the ring as a guest referee, was a TV football commentator and did cameos on a soap opera.
Such personalities have blurred the line between Hollywood celebrities and political figures, said Paul Levinson, chairman of Fordham University’s communications and media studies department.
Television has been a great equalizer in that regard, Levinson said. “The average person sits there and sees Hollywood people and political people on the same screen. That’s what’s been gradually eroding the difference between the two.”
Schwarzenegger’s new political celebrity might give “Terminator 3” a boost when it debuts on home video in November. And now that he’s been elected, the actor’s movies can once again be shown on television with the lifting of the Federal Communications Commission’s equal time provision.
But should he ever return full-time to Hollywood, where box-office results rule, he will be in the same boat as everyone else.
“If he makes a good movie, it’ll do well. If he makes one that doesn’t capture the imagination of people, it won’t do well,” said Clint Eastwood, who continued to make films while serving as mayor of Carmel, Calif., in the 1980s. “It’ll have nothing to do with running.”
Should Schwarzenegger give up movies?
* 5577 responses
Yes, just for his term
No, he can sneak in a few roles while governing
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