Arnold Schwarzenegger comes to the defense of Last Action Hero, saying it’s underrated

The legendary action star reflected on his career in a recent interview, and one thing he is still proud of was formerly a disastrous flop.

It’s funny, as a child of the 90s, many peers of the same generation never once heard that the Arnold Schwarzenegger satirical send-up of action movies, Last Action Hero, was an unpopular flop. It was odd, sure. But it was fun. In a follow-up of yesterday’s report on Schwarzenegger’s candid interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the muscular icon responds to the newfound audience for the John McTiernan action comedy. Schwarzenegger was bombarded with criticism when the movie was released, but now he’s pleasantly surprised to see the reception coming around as he thinks it’s under-appreciated.

While he hit big with another action comedy, True Lies, just a year later, Arnold comes to Last Action Hero‘s defense when asked about what he feels is his most underrated role, even citing it as a victim in a political crossfire. He answered, Last Action Hero. It was slaughtered before anybody saw it. It was literally a political attack because I was campaigning for [former President George H.W. Bush], but Bill Clinton won. Last Action Hero was great — it wasn’t fantastic, but it was underrated. Now, more and more people are seeing it and saying, “I love this movie.” I’m getting the residual checks, so I know it’s true. It made money — that’s always an important thing for me. Because it’s show business, right?”

Many fans of the film share Arnold’s sentiment that it is underrated, and many feel it may have been ahead of its time. When parodies like Scary Movie were released, they went full-tilt on joking about movie tropes with Zucker brothers-esque broad humor. Last Action Hero didn’t advertise itself as such. Even writers of former drafts of the script were surprised by what it evolved into. Shane Black, who was a crucial contributor to the genre when he wrote 1987’s Lethal Weapon, penned the script and says his draft was more geared specifically toward the “detective crime” genre and saw the final product was more about the “movie world” as a whole. According to Empire, Chris Moore, an agent who championed the early script, proclaimed, “It had shot way off to the left of what was originally intended. If there’d been more time, there’s a chance someone might have stood up and said, ‘What the fuck are you doing with an animated cat?’ Something which, from the outside looking in, looks like a decision of somebody using drugs.”

At the time, the studio would misguidedly advertise it as Arnold’s biggest movie ever. And this is coming straight off of the release of Terminator 2. Columbia Pictures would even go as far as to make it the first movie (and maybe only movie ever since?) to be advertised in space when the studio paid “$500,000 to have the film’s name emblazoned on a NASA rocket, trumpeting that, ‘It’s the first time in the history of advertising that a space vehicle has been used.’”

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