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How Arnold Schwarzenegger Was Guilted into Playing Mr. Freeze in ‘Batman & Robin’

How Arnold Schwarzenegger Was Guilted into Playing Mr. Freeze in ‘Batman & Robin’

Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken on movie roles in dramas, action movies, and comedies, but he found himself tested in Batman & Robin. Director Joel Schumacher held a script in his hands and read through it. George Clooney came on as Batman, while Chris O’Donnell would play Robin. Who would be the villain in this movie? None other than Mr. Freeze.

While many people are familiar with the character from the 1960s TV show Batman, this version has a little different look. Mr. Freeze has a tie-in with the comic books featuring Batman and the Boy Wonder. Yet there was an element of silliness in the movie version.

Schumacher read through the script with Mr. Freeze’s lines. In his head, he heard Schwarzenegger’s voice saying the material. So, the director set out to get the Austrian Oak (Schwarzenegger’s nickname from his bodybuilding days) in Batman & Robin.

Director Pretty Much Twisted Arnold’s Arm For Role

Let’s let Arnold pick up the story. He does for The Making of ‘Batman & Robin’ | Behind the Scenes. “Joel Schumacher came to me and said that he would like me to play Mr. Freeze,” Schwarzenegger said. “‘I would not direct the movie, because I only can do this movie if you play Mr. Freeze.’ So, what are you gonna do? I mean, screw up a whole movie? He made me feel like I would make this whole thing fall apart if I’m not part of this. So he made me feel like, you know, King Kong. So I said to him, I called him the next day and said, ‘You know something, Joel? I’m going to do Mr. Freeze.’”

And he did it. If you are looking for some Shakespeare going down with him, then you will be sorely disappointed. The dialogue was filled with puns, snazzy one-liners, or less-than-serious stuff. It even had elements of the TV show within Mr. Freeze’s dialogue.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Freezes Out ‘Batman & Robin’

No one, though, will mistake him for George Sanders, Otto Preminger, and Eli Wallach. Who are these three men? They all took turns playing Mr. Freeze on TV. And the dialogue they had to work with was pretty similar to Schwarzenegger’s lines.

While most of his fans know Schwarzenegger can deliver a memorable line (“Hasta la vista, baby!” or “I’ll be back!”), the tongue-in-cheek stuff here either makes you laugh or smirk. They tossed Arnold lines like “Let’s kick some ice!” or “Cool Party!” to utter.

Clooney despises this movie and even puts it down when he has an opportunity. He’s gone on to do stellar work as both an actor and director. O’Donnell went on to find fame and fortune in playing G. Callen on CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles.

Actor Wanted Chance To Join List of Villains

Maybe if moviegoers were set on seeing a campy movie, then it would have been a better experience. Schwarzenegger said that he saw how other villains had been portrayed in the Batman movies. This left him with a lot of excitement to come on board and play one of Gotham City’s most cold-hearted criminals. But it just didn’t work out in the end. People may have been expecting a darker version of Batman. Instead, it was played more on a lighthearted level.

And this movie wasn’t lacking star power, either. Besides the three male leads, Uma Thurman was on board as Poison Ivy, another criminal on the loose. Toss in Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl, and that’s a good cast on paper. Alas, though, it didn’t transfer over into big box-office success.

Batman & Robin was filmed on a $125 million budget. The movie piled up $238 million at the box office. Christopher Nolan came along in 2008 to bring the movie The Dark Knight to life. This time, Christian Bale played Batman opposite the late Heath Ledger’s Joker.