Arnold Schwarzenegger movies have a special place in my childhood nostalgia file. Terminator 2: Judgment Day was the first R-rated movie I saw in the theater, and thankfully, it still holds up and is just as impressive now as it was then. Arnold is the definition of an action movie star and he sat on a throne of bullet shells and hand grenades as king of the action movie genre throughout much of the 80s and 90s. Sure, we had Bruce Willis, Sly Stallone, and Wesley Snipes all challenging him for his title, but nobody delivered a cheesy one-liner while blowing up bad guys better than Arney.
Just like any actor who’s had over four decades of success in Hollywood, there are some big parts that he didn’t take — for whatever reason. Arnold just turned 67, and of course will be shooting machine guns once again as part of the bloated cast of The Expendables 3 next month. Here’s a look at 10 roles that at one time almost went to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
1. The Incredible Hulk (1978) — Poor Richard Kiel. Kiel was the actor originally cast as the Hulk in the 1970s television series, but producers began to feel that he wasn’t buff enough during filming of the pilot and fired him. Lou Ferrigno’s main competition for the part was Arnold, but the part went to Ferrigno because producers reportedly felt Schwarzenegger wasn’t tall enough. Ferrigno stands at 6’5 compared to Arnold’s measly 6’2.
2. The Terminator (1984) — “Hey, but Arnold was in the Terminator! What gives?” I can see you know your Arnold parts. James Cameron originally had Arnold in mind for the terminator’s opponent, Kyle Reese. Schwarzenegger explained in his biography Total Recall that at the time he didn’t want to play villain roles and was hoping to be the hero. Not to mention that the terminator has almost no lines in the movie.
3. RoboCop (1987) — Schwarzenegger was considered for the part of Alex Murphy that went to Peter Weller, but Arnold was literally too big for the role. Producers felt that there would be some issues developing a suit for Arnold’s massive body and that he would end up looking like a live-action version of the Michelin Man.
4. Full Metal Jacket (1987) — Stanley Kubrick had Arnold in mind for Adam Baldwin’s part of Animal Mother in Full Metal Jacket, the only problem was that Arnold was in high demand in the mid-1980s and had too many projects already. Arnold told Empire magazine “I didn’t have time to do it” mostly because he was already busy working on Commando and Predator.
5. Die Hard (1988) — Die Hard was originally supposed to be a sequel to Arnold’s film Commando. When Arnold decided he didn’t want to do the project, actors Harrison Ford and Richard Gere were considered for the part that made Bruce Willis a movie star.
6. Spider-Man (1991) — Cameron had written a 47-page treatment that would put the web slinger up against Electro, Sandman and Dr. Octopus. Arnold was Cameron’s choice for the role of Dr. Octopus, but the movie never came to fruition because the studio simply wasn’t a fan of Cameron’s treatment on Spidey. Arnold of course went on to play another comic book villain, Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin, and we all know how that turned out.
7. Air Force One (1997) – Arnold was just one of several actors being considered for the part of the ass-kicking president. The role was actually written for Kevin Costner, but he turned it down to work on his movie The Postman. Arnold, Tom Hanks, and Dennis Quaid all had their names in the hat before Harrison Ford finally secured the part.
8. Face/Off (1997) — Before John Travolta and Nicolas Cage swapped faces, Arnold and his Expendables buddy Sylvester Stallone were the top considerations for the movie.
9. Total Recall 2 – TR was one of Arnold’s strongest sci-fi action films and C2 Pictures production company had acquired script for a sequel to the psychological vacation nightmare flick along with the rights to Basic Instinct 2. Arnold saw the Total Recall 2 script, but supposedly wasn’t impressed and passed on the movie. Then C2 Pictures’ Basic Instinct 2 came out and died a horrible death, likely taking any chance of Arnold doing a second TR down with it.
10. I Am Legend (2007) — I Am Legend was in development for over a decade before it ever hit the big screen, and in the 90s director Ridley Scott was set to direct the project. Scott had brought Arnold on board for the Will Smith part, but when Scott left because of budgeting issues Arnold dropped out and the movie briefly shifted over to Michael Bay.