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“ That's not special effects. That's just old-fashioned working out. ”

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnie says 'Hasta la vista' to flab

Mon 21 Jul 2003 | 21h45 GMT+1
Info: TF News search

It was a most unlikely emotion for an indestructible avenging robot to feel. Suddenly the Terminator was gripped by all-too-human feelings of fear.

Here was mighty Arnold Schwarzenegger, all set to reprise his metal man role in his latest movie - but worried that the sight of him naked might have audiences bursting into laughter.

The 55-year-old star was snapped on a beach earlier this year looking distinctly flabby not long after he had hip replacement surgery.

Unfortunately, his role in Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines called for him to make his entrance in the nude - and he didn't fancy the idea of his less-than-toned frame causing fits of the giggles in the stalls.

He'd already had two heart valve operations. Was age finally catching up with Arnie? If so, he wasn't about to admit it. Schwarzenegger vowed to say: "Hasta la vista" to the spare pounds before filming began.

The former Mr Universe - who at his peak weighed a massive 270lb - threw himself into a punishing workout regime to bulk up the hard way.

It was tough, but it worked... and Arnie fans can see the impressive results when the film, a summer blockbuster in America, reaches the rest of the world.

The 6ft 2in actor ended up with the same powerful 250lb physique he boasted when he did Terminator 2 in 1991.

Director Jonathan Mostow and the crew were in awe of his dedication. Mostow says: "The first night of shooting, Arnold came out of his trailer in his Terminator wardrobe, with the leather jacket, the sunglasses and the big shotgun.

"That's not special effects. That's just old-fashioned working out."

Arnie's regime consisted of a strict diet, with heavy-duty workouts for three to five hours a day before filming started.

In between shooting, he trained in his private gym on set in his lunch hour.

"I was very excited to do the work that it takes to be in the same shape I was in when I made the previous Terminator films," says the star.

"Working out, rehearsing the scenes, preparing for the stunts - all of those things were a great pleasure for me.

"That first scene, in which the Terminator comes on naked, was always going to be the big one for me. The older you get, the fatter you get. The weight starts coming on and you don't know how.

"I did not want to walk on and have people in the audience laugh. I also did not want to disappoint those who grew up with the first Terminator movie.

"But that was nearly 20 years ago. Your body changes. I had a big task ahead. Fortunately, I like big tasks. They don't bother me. I do what it takes." He was back - even though he could no longer lift the 400lb weights he once did, as doctors had warned him to take it easier.

"I have always worked out every day," he says. "It is like breathing or eating to me. It comes naturally and has been part of my life for more than 30 years.

"But I had to increase the training from one hour a day to two hours a day and so on, and had to do it in a different kind of way. It would do me no good at this stage to train heavy. So what I do is lift lighter weights more often. I get in the repeats faster.

"And I have had to change my diet. I do not eat any fat or anything high in cholesterol. So things like milk, cheese and eggs are out and I have to go easy on the meat.

"I have been looking a lot of fish in the face recently, and big salads. There's always fruit and vegetables, too. I tell you, I have been eating like a girl.

"At first, you don't notice much. You just have to keep at it, keeping to the diet and keeping to the workouts. Then you see the shape start to change back to how it once was. It is no use doing it for three or four weeks and expecting a result. I did it for month after month before we even did a day's shooting. And then it's no use stopping, either. You have to carry on during the filming - and that is even harder."

Arnie arrived on set at 4am and sometimes had to sit through six or seven hours of make-up - breathing through a straw to keep his face immobile. Fortunately, it wasn't like that every day. "I would not have been able to keep going. But, when required, that was my life," he says.

"I then put on the big leather jacket and leather pants, and some of those temperatures when we were filming were nearly 100 degrees. It was tiring, but I did not allow myself to think about it.

"At the end of the day's filming, that is when I went back to do my workouts. I blank it all out. I don't think of the pain or the tiredness. I think of the results."

His determination mirrors that of his character in T3. Arnie has starred in many flops over the years, but the 30 million dollars he was paid for this film has softened the blow, and there is no doubt he can still pull in audiences. But Mastow was worried that his star might not be able to beat the ageing process. He says: "I knew he'd had the surgery and did think: 'How is this going to all work out?'

"But, when I saw him, I could not believe it. He had got rid of any loose flesh and he looked in such shape. I looked at the tape after our first day and I honestly could not tell the difference. He is like a machine."

Does Arnie ever think about whether age is catching up with him?

"Never," he says. "But, then again, I do live in denial. When I was waiting for my original heart surgery, I was living as if I was going to have a tooth pulled or something.

"I never faced up to the fact that this was major surgery because I did not want to deal with it. I was still playing pool at midnight and thinking that this was just a minor thing that had nothing to do with my body."

But Arnie was in for a shock. After the operation in 1997 to replace a defective valve - a condition from which both his mother and his grandmother died - he was told to take things easier.

"I came home and started cycling," he says. "It was a stupid thing to do, but I could not get my head around the fact that I'd had surgery."

Then he needed a second operation.

"My wife, Maria, drove me in to the hospital at four in the morning and at six I had the operation," he recalls. "When I woke up I told myself: 'This is a piece of cake. I will soon be out of here.'

"That is the way I think. Someone else might want to dwell on it but it is all nonsense. All the thing about me getting older and worrying about training, that is not going to help."

The scars are not evident on screen. "They did a very neat job, didn't they?" he says.

"I've had surgery on an injured shoulder since, and you can not see the scars on that, either. I heal easy. Or I have tough skin," he laughs.

Arnie speaks in the familiar monotone staccato of his characters, which always seems to translate so well to his action roles. The accent does not sound so good in his native Austrian, apparently, and he now conducts all interviews with German and Austrian outlets in English.

His sense of humour is as thick as his torso. After the heart surgery, he jokes, he never thought about using body make-up.

"No, just a bikini wax," he says. "It hurts so much."

A pause. "That was just a joke," he says.

"I still want to do as much of the action scenes as possible, and that is tough," he adds. "Our film is about action - real action and not some computer stuff. And that comes with some bruises.

"I got injured the first week. I had to cock a shotgun all night, pulling the slide up and down, and it weighed four and a half pounds. I had a shoulder tear as a result of that.

"So the difficult things came when I had to take out of my face all expressions of joy or pain. The Terminator is a machine, so when I did a fight scene or lifted a 70lb gun, my face could not change.

"Those are the things that are really challenging. That and the nude scene. That was going to always be a big deal. But we are already talking about Terminator 4 - and there is a nude scene in that, too.

"So I have to stay in shape for the rest of my life. No problem.

"To me, the moment I slip in to the leather jacket and put on the sunglasses, it is like: 'I'm back.'"

As reported on and changed a few sentences to fit the rest of the world. (Pound Sterling changed into American dollars and some timetable content changed to appear normal for viewers outside of the UK ;)

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