Next to Terminator 2, True Lies is arguably Arnold Schwarzenegger’s greatest movie of the 1990s. (It’s most definitely Tom Arnold’s greatest movie.) Based on the French film La Totale!, True Lies was the third and last film to date that director James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger teamed up on — though it also featured frequent Cameron collaborator Bill Paxton. The movie really has everything one could want from a Schwarzenegger action movie: plenty of guns and explosions, plenty of cheesy lines, and an easy to follow plot that is barely believable. Plus, it has that amazing scene from the photo above with a bad guy feeling first hand what it’s like to be a missile.
Yesterday, we celebrated the film’s 20th anniversary with a recap of Arnold’s 20 best lines — “It’s not a toomah!” is still tops in my book — and today we’re digging up the facts on how the movie came to be. For starters, the story of how Tom Arnold’s presence nearly derailed the movie from ever being made.
1. James Cameron was the only person in Hollywood who liked Tom Arnold at the time. This has probably been the case for much of Tom Arnold’s career, but in 1994 he wasn’t especially popular in the casting department because of his messy divorce from Rosanne Barr. Twentieth-Century Fox was vehemently against casting Tom Arnold, but James Cameron liked him so much that he threatened to pull out of the movie if they didn’t sign off on Tom Arnold playing Albert Gibson.
2. James Cameron rented three Marine Harriers from the U.S. government for $2,410 per hour. Securing three fighter jets and the pilots to fly them is never a small order, but the U.S. government loaned Cameron three of them for the bargain price of $100,736.
3. One of the movie’s jokes comes from Tom Arnold’s real-life divorce. In the scene where Harry reveals his suspicions that Helen is having an affair to Albert Gibson, Gibson remarks, “What kind of sick bitch takes the ice cube trays out of the freezer?” This joke was a gag on the real-life divorce that Tom Arnold was going through at the time after he discovered that his ex, Rosanne had gone so far as to take the ice cube trays from their freezer.
4. Jamie Lee Curtis celebrated her birthday by doing her own helicopter stunt. Curtis celebrated her 36th birthday by performing the harrowing helicopter stunt herself after James Cameron suggested the idea. At first Curtis balked at the idea of dangling from the helicopter and asked James Cameron where he was going to be during all of this. Cameron replied, “Hanging out the door filming you with a hand-held camera.” The actress figured that if he was going to be so daring she might as well, too. The stunt was performed when the limousine and helicopter accelerated together to a speed of 70 mph.
5. 9/11 put the brakes on the potential sequel. After the movie’s success, talks began of reuniting the cast for a sequel and everyone, including James Cameron, was on board. A script was written with a slated release date for sometime in 2002. Following the 9/11 attacks, the project was put on the shelf with James Cameron feeling that a movie with jokes about terrorism would be in poor taste. There had been talks of a possible TV series based on the film a few years ago, but as it stands, the best thing out there is a forgotten Super Nintendo game.
6. Jamie Lee Curtis wore her own lingerie for the striptease. The wardrobe department wasn’t needed for Jame Lee Curtis’ striptease that she gives to her husband in the movie. Curtis brought her own lingerie to the set.