Today, Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood. But decades ago, movie execs thought he was too muscle-bound to ever make it in the industry.
Long before Schwarzenegger became an A-lister, he was a high-profile professional bodybuilder. The Austrian-born athlete won Mr. Olympia seven times and Mr. Universe five times before deciding to try his hand at acting.
Today, we know Schwarzenegger as The Terminator and the Kindergarten Cop. At 76 years old, he is still working on film. He’s currently starring in his first television series, FUBAR, which streams on Netflix. But interestingly, there was a time when Hollywood big-wigs wouldn’t take him seriously. If it weren’t for his dedication, he would have never become a legend.
“In the ’70s, when I said I wanted to get into movies, all the producers and directors and studio executives and agents were saying to me, ‘It’s never gonna happen.’ And one of the three reasons was that my body was too big,” he shared on Rob Lowe’s Literally! podcast. “They said to me, ‘Look at the stars today… Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, De Niro, Woody Allen. Those are the sex symbols. People don’t want to see big muscles. You’re 100 pounds too heavy. Forget it.”
Producers and Directors Made Fun of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Name
The execs also turned him away for his signature accent. They claimed that he was a stereotype because a “German accent is scary for most Americans” thanks to WWII. A few people said he could potentially star as a Nazi officer “or something like that.” But told him to forget about becoming a leading man. Some execs even poked fun at his legendary name.
“‘No one would be able to pronounce Schwarz… What’s your name? Schnitzel, or something like that?’” he recalled hearing. “So they were laughing at my name. And those are the three things why it wouldn’t work.
Of course, we all know how the story ended. Arnold Schwarzenegger got his big break in 1982 when he landed a role in Conan the Barbarian. According to CNBC, his movies have grossed over $3 billion. He’s also worth around $300 million. And let us not forget that he was popular enough to become California’s mayor in 2003 and serve for seven years. So, those producers and directors who turned him away and made fun of his name may be kicking themselves today.
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