Think great actors. Cary Grant? Robert De Niro? Gary Oldman? Way off. Try Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yes, that towering one-liner dispenser who made a career out of being built like a brick house (or however that phrase goes) is back! After a few years off in California making advertisements to entice you (arguably his best work), Arnie returns to our screens in Sylvester Stallone’s tough-guy reunion The Expendables 2. And although he’s one of Hollywood’s biggest and best-loved action heroes, Arnie has never really been thought of as an actor. Which strikes me as strange considering that, when you think about it properly (nobody ever has), Arnold Schwarzenegger is the greatest actor of all-time. Here’s why.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is smart (he was a politician, you know). Like any smart person, Arnie understands one very important notion that has been true since the dawn of mankind: foreign accents are really funny. Now remember it’s an actor’s job to bring people into movie theaters; any marketing nerd will tell you it’s essential that you understand your audience. If Arnie had spoken in, say, a generic American accent, do you think people would have raced through the streets shouting “Movie! Movie!” to see Jingle all the Way? An unusually strong dad caught up in an anxiety frenzy over a doll isn’t funny – it’s horrific. But give that unusually strong dad a thick European accent and it’s like printing your own money. The point I’m making is that Arnie’s accent isn’t some unfortunate bi-product of his heritage, it’s a conscious marketing tool – and he knows it. All the way to the bank.