Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves office today. Does he still have a film career?

Arnold-SchwarzeneggerImage Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images; AFP/Getty ImagesWhether you agree with his politics or not, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2003 election to the California governorship was a defining moment in the evolution of American society. It wasn’t the first time that a celebrity with zero political experience has ascended to high political office — “Pappy” O’Daniel, anyone? — but the sheer unlikelihood of Schwarzenegger’s rise is astounding. You could argue that Schwarzenegger’s election was an “Only in America” rags-to-riches story… or you could note that his status as one of the most powerful politicians in the country AND one of the biggest movie stars in history is the best indication yet that we are already living in an Orwellian dystopic future. Either way, we’re left pondering the same question: Does the man still have a movie career?

It’s easy to forget that, before Schwarzenegger assumed office, he wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire anymore. He was coming off of three utterly forgettable action movies — 1999’s End of Days, 2000’s The 6th Day, and 2002’s Collateral Damage — before he took a role in 2003’s Terminator 3. That movie was a big hit, and it proves what a canny businessman Schwarzenegger can be: By revisiting his classic ’80s franchise, he set a template that fellow aging action stars would follow later in the decade. (See: Bruce Willis in Live Free or Die Hard and Sylvester Stallone in everything he has done in the last five years.) Schwarzenegger was also riding the kooky-cameo gravy train with very bit parts in The Rundown and Around the World in 80 Days.

It’s not too crazy to suggest that, if he hadn’t of run for governor, Schwarzenegger would have continued to follow that cameo/sequel structure. (Oh, what might have been! Maybe Schwarzenegger could have played the celebrity cameo role in Zombieland? Or perhaps that long-discussed Commando reboot could’ve just been a way, way, way-too-late sequel?) And it’s entirely possible that, free from the constraints of political office, he’ll slip right back into that career track. He already had a brief cameo role in The Expendables, and you have to figure that Stallone would love to give his old friend a bigger role in the sequel. But does Schwarzenegger even want to act anymore?

I hope so, because I think the guy still has one more great role in him — and it’s a role that only he can play. In the classic closing moments of 1982’s Conan the Barbarian, we see a much-older Conan, who has become a true King. But it’s not a joyful moment — he wears the jeweled crown upon a “troubled brow,” and the implication is that, even though the savage has achieved everything he ever dreamed of in life, his life has only become more complicated, even dangerous. What better role for Schwarzenegger, who ascended to the highest political office available to him, only to now leave that office with incredibly low approval ratings? King Conan: the role Arnold Schwarzenegger was born to play!

What do you think, PopWatchers? Should Schwarzenegger return to any of his old franchises? Do you think he even wants to act anymore? Or should he settle in for a long, happy career of brief cameos in Hangover sequels?

Also, quick note for Schwarzenegger fans: in honor of the Governator’s final day in office, PopWatch Rewind is hosting a special week-long examination of three of his most iconic films. Check back on Wednesday for an in-depth look at Conan the Barbarian (Arnold punches a camel!), followed on Thursday by a close thematic reading of Commando (Arnold slices a man’s arm off!), and finishing up on Friday with an exquisite exploration of Predator (Arnold punches an alien!).

Read more:
Clip du jour: Every Arnold Schwarzenegger scream ever

Comments (17 total) Add your comment
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  • Jay

    Say what you will about Arnie and his film career… but The 6th Day was a very enjoyable movie. End of Days and Collateral Damage were both pretty bad, though.

    On a side note, I doubt he’s got the physique to be still be an action star. Sly keeps up his training schedule (with a side dish of growth hormones), to keep his body. Arnold has been busy with politics. $5 says he has a muffin-top when he takes off his shirt

  • thr

    Since Ahnuld has so much luck with sequels, would he consider starring in a rugged outdoor remake/variation of LASSIE COME HOME, maybe w/Lee Grant? That is, if she is still acting/alive.

  • haha

    First! and not to be a complete douche I’ll actually weigh an opinion: YES, he should

  • Jackie in Texas

    I don’t care what Arnold does next I will be watching for him. If he does another movie I will go watch it. If he writes a book I will buy it and read it. I have and will always love that man!

  • Mr. Holloway

    I’ve missed Ahnuld’s larger than life presence from my movie screens in these recent years.

    However, I can’t see him doing anything else than the cameo thing. Although it was a hoot seeing him share the screen with Stallone and Willis, it looked like it pained him to walk. (Not to mention that he looked like a wax figure version of himself.)

  • DavidJ

    I’d definitely love to see him in movies again. He showed in Expendables that he still has buckets and buckets of charisma, and if Stallone could get back into shape for an action movie, surely he could as well.

  • jim

    Arnold needs to comeback to movies and do his dream project Crusade

  • Dan Brown

    Yes, he has one role left yet. President!

  • Eddy

    I guess it took the destruction of the Californian economy to realize the guy wasn’t a politician but an actor..oh well..

  • alharron

    I’m torn on having him return for King Conan. On the one hand, it would offer closure to the fans who’ve been waiting for the conclusion since 1982. On the other, there’s a new Conan film already on the way with Jason Momoa as Conan (who, despite what CtB fans seem to think, is a far greater fit for the character than Arnold ever was), and it seems a backwards step to then go back to King Conan after the reboot. All this in addition to the fact that the King Conan script floating about the net simply wasn’t very good.

    Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

  • wesley pratt

    collateral damage was a great movie. I want to see Conan the King and several more action films.

  • jen

    love Arnold and will go see whatever he puts out & will enjoy it regardless. I would love to see him back in shape & a Conan movie without him in a MAJOR role would be sacrilege

  • Steve

    All I wanted from Arnold was “True Lies 2″, but he had to go and be governor instead. He’s too old to go back to it now.

  • ioyugpiygpiy7g

    Truth is he’ll do a few cameos

    Predators 2

    Expendables 2

    Terminator 5

    Avatar 2

    However honestly it depends on how he wants to be rememberd ?? for his acting carrer befor governor or looked back at what happend after ??

    I think its safe to assume he’ll do at least one more movie but i doubt there well be any others.

  • HoHo

    “Haha” makes me want to laugh VERY hard. All that “first” stuff is so stupid anyway but being the third person to comment and saying “first” is just beyond idiotic.

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