Did Arnold Schwarzenegger’s RINO-esque turn as California Governor derail his movie star appeal for good?
Schwarzenneger became one of the most improbable A-list stars in the 1980s. The muscle-bound actor routinely got bullied by his dialogue, and his dramatic chops made fellow action heroes look positively Shakespearean by comparison. He headlined a series of massive hits all the same, from the comedy Twins to the iconic Terminator films.
So where did all his fans go?
Schwarzenegger traded the silver screen for politics in the early 2000s, becoming Governor of California and leaving the action genre to the new superheroes on the block. Now, with his film return in full swing, it’s clear his appeal has ebbed dramatically.
Was it something he said … or did?
Schwarzenegger’s new film, Sabotage, opens today, and few are expecting it to return him to the top of the box office charts. While the actor’s best films mixed humor with bracing action, Sabotage is alternately ugly and grim, a far cry from the movies that cemented his appeal.
His last film, Escape Plan, drew a tiny American audience, as did his 2013 solo vehicle The Last Stand. Both films would fit perfectly into the ’80s action hero genre, yet stateside audiences stayed away in droves. Sabotage, frankly, would be ignored during the Reagan era, and for good reason.
The actor never stood atop a soap box like a Sean Penn or Oliver Stone, but he embraced a right of center political mindset during the height of his movie fame. More importantly, he embodied a conservative’s vision of the American success story. He was an immigrant who came to America, put in the work and saw the fruits of his protein-packed labor.
Yet as Governor he hardly mirrored his predecessor, Ronald Reagan. More recently, he’s been attached to climate change headlines and marital woes. He admitted to having an affair on his wife, news correspondent Maria Shriver, a fact that doesn’t help his box office appeal.
And, let’s face it, few could point to the “Governator’s” tenure as a smashing success.
It’s tough being a 60-something action hero, but fellow stars Clint Eastwood and Liam Neeson pulled it off beautifully. Schwarzenegger remains the vision of health, and his well-earned crow’s feat hardly dent the perception that he could bring pain to the bad guys with impunity on screen.
Yes, audiences will likely show up with he returns to the Terminator franchise, but the era of Arnold Schwarzenegger, box office titan, appears confined to the past.