Nobody does it better or more blatantly than Arnold Schwarzenegger when it comes to promoting a film. The pumped-up Austrian never skipped a high-profile visit on the international media tour while he was in the height of his movie stardom (about 1982 to 1996). He would respond to tame queries on “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee,” wade through kid-friendly mud on “The Howard Stern Show,” and then fly back to Los Angeles for “The Tonight Show” all in the course of one morning. He would pitch the movie like it was the year’s most anticipated event, whether he was marketing an instant masterpiece or “Eraser.” Even though you were aware that he was shaming us, you couldn’t help but be struck by his affable lack of shame. Many celebrities despise this aspect of their jobs, but back then Schwarzenegger seemed to relish it.
If you’re thinking that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s brazenness couldn’t go any further, I can promise you that it did not. His zealous defence of the stale, franchise-damaging “Batman & Robin” serves as Exhibit A.
The power and the glory of Mr. Freeze
Ain’t It Cool News and Corona Coming Attractions, two fan websites, released poor test screening evaluations about “Batman & Robin,” one of the first films directed by Joel Schumacher, online. The worst reviews came two months before the movie’s debut, so Schwarzenegger was without the usual protection granted to stars hawking trash. You are gravely mistaken if you believe that the future governor of California was at all concerned.
Schwarzenegger brazenly touts the movie in a 1997 video interview with junketeer Mark Greczmiel, as though it were a one-of-a-kind event. Schwarzenegger, for instance, unloads a wonderful line of BS when asked if he was concerned about putting the silver cosmetics that transformed him into Mr. Freeze. He missteps on the question first. “Do I come across as a worrier to you?” He chuckles at his own self-deprecating remark before going into salesperson mode:
“I find quite the opposite. I start thinking about, ‘How can we make this makeup as interesting as possible? How can we make it challenging? How can we make it so it’s really entertaining for the people all over the world? How can we create the kind of armor that would be spectacular?'”
After getting warmed up, Arnold Schwarzenegger attacks:
“Being part of a Batman movie, and having seen the other Batmen, everything is a spectacle, everything is bigger than life. So I knew that the only way as Mr. Freeze to really stand out, and to be unique, and to be one of the great villains or maybe the best villain of all the movies is by really going all out with the makeup, all out with the armor and with the performance.”
A hype man’s hype man
The finest part of Schwarzenegger’s “best villain of all the movies” hyperbole is that while you assume he’s referring to all of the Batman movies, you wouldn’t rule out the possibility that he actually believes Mr. Freeze to be the greatest villain to ever appear on a big-screen. Why not, then? Despite the fact that moviegoers had then-unprecedented knowledge of what a dud “Batman & Robin” was, this type of promotion was and will always be completely pointless. Schwarzenegger is not one of the many movie stars who become embarrassed when obliged to promote a bad film. He’s a traditional professional who gives his all to every movie he’s in. You can’t help but love him for this, despite the absurdity of his remarks.