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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Greatest Challenge

Although it was his sixth acting job, 1982's “Conan The Barbarian” really launched Arnold Schwarzenegger’s success in Hollywood.  After watching the movie again, I also enjoyed the extra “From the Vaults,” a collection of interviews conducted on the set nearly thirty years ago.  Something Schwarzenegger said stuck with me. After thirteen years of bodybuilding competition, and winning every title worth winning, he felt no more challenge in the sport.  So he looked around for “something different that would create a lot of challenge for me and be very difficult.”  He noticed that acting was a particularly difficult profession to get into. While a bodybuilder might land the occasional movie role, none had yet climbed to the pinnacle of that profession.  Thus acting provided a challenge that his former sport no longer offered him.  He liked that it was hard to get into, that it afforded him a lot of obstacles, and that it gave him “something new to fight for.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never chosen to do something because it was difficult.  I’ve done things because I wanted to do them, including pursuing my present course, but I’ve never purposely sought out something that would provide me with the most challenge and lots of obstacles.  I guess that’s what separates me from people like Schwarzenegger, who not only rewrote the record books in bodybuilding, but also went on to become one of Hollywood's top movie stars. That process would not be easy.  He had to prove himself in a lot of smaller productions before more high profile movies came his way.  Also, as he mentioned in the interview, he had to do additional stunt work, as few stuntmen could double for his unique physique.  In time, he won audiences over with his unique personality and style, and people flocked to theaters more because he was in the movie than for what it was about.

Like most Schwarzenegger fans, I’m saddened by the dissolution of his marriage.  In this, he reminds me of the Biblical character of Samson, who, while capable of great feats of strength and courage, possessed a similar personality flaw that led to his downfall.  (The character of King David also comes to mind).  Such timeless heroes demonstrate that those who seem the strongest may nonetheless be weak in other areas of their lives.  Nor am I certain that history will look kindly upon his years as governor of California.  More than any of his previous challenges, politics is an arena in which people say one thing and do another.  Success there certainly cannot be achieved by one person’s efforts alone, no matter how tirelessly they work, or the popularity of the causes they fight for.  But it’s worth pointing out that he never accepted a salary during his years of service, and that he gave up tens of millions of dollars (if not hundreds of millions) that he could have earned had he remained in the acting profession, and continued to endorse nutritional supplements.

Unlike some other Hollywood stars that have crashed and burned, Arnold Schwarzenegger may be guilty of inappropriate conduct and poor judgment, but I’ve not heard of him doing anything vicious or hateful.  And he does seem to be acting responsibly toward those in his life.  I don’t know if he will find overcoming all the obstacles he faces too hard, but I hope he can fight his way back to the top of the acting profession.  It’s important that highly regarded people rebuild their careers, for in doing so they inspire us to overcome the obstacles that lie in our own paths.  I’ve admired him in the past for many of the things he has done, and hope he does well in some of his upcoming movies, such as this month's "The Last Stand," and next year's "The Legend of Conan."  I want to see him overcome perhaps the greatest challenge of his life, and win me over, all over again. 

Dragon Dave

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