Action movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger knows where his bread is buttered. No matter how well or poorly his films do in the U.S., they always do well in Japan. Schwarzenegger, 66, who is popularly known as “Schwa-chan” in Japan, has been coming to Japan since his bodybuilding days in 1972. He has been here to promote his films 15 times, appeared in countless TV commercials and also came a few times during his stint as California governor.
“Japanese fans are my most loyal,” Schwarzenegger said earlier this month at the Japan premiere of his latest film, “Escape Plan,” in which he stars with fellow aging action star Sylvester Stallone, 67. In the film, Stallone plays Ray Breslin, the world’s foremost authority on prison security. He is hired by the CIA to break out of an ultra-secret, high-tech facility but is double-crossed. Inside, he enlists the aid of fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) to help devise a daring escape plan.
Schwarzenegger said he and Stallone have wanted to make a film together for almost 40 years – though Schwarzenegger did have cameos in Stallone’s two “Expendables” films. “I have to thank Sly for sending me this script. He called and said it was a fantastic script and that we could finally be in a film where we could fight together,” Schwarzenegger said. “We used to be rivals early in our careers but now we are good friends who respect each other’s work.”
It would be hard not to respect each other’s work—Stallone’s movies have brought in $2.9 billion worldwide since he made “Rocky” in 1976 and Schwarzenegger’s films have racked up $3.8 billion at the box office since he appeared in “Conan the Barbarian” in 1982, according to Yahoo news..
Schwarzenegger walked away from films to become governor of California in 2003 but after his two terms were up in 2011, he got the acting bug back. He stays connected to politics through his USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy which brings together leaders from around the world for brainstorming sessions on political, economic and social issues.
In the meantime, the scripts keep coming in, despite his age. Schwarzenegger said that whenever he chooses a script, it has to be something that will appeal to international audiences because of his vast worldwide fan base. Next year, he will be seen in three films – the zombie film “Maggie,” “Sabotage,” an action film about DEA agents, and he’ll rejoin Stallone and a star-studded cast for “The Expendables 3.” After that, the “Terminator” returns, as Paramount reboots the franchise with a new trilogy of films. Schwarzenegger will also revisit the world of Conan with “The Legend of Conan,” and co-star with Danny DeVito in “Triplets,” a sequel to their 1988 comedy “Twins.”
Asked if he will ever retire, Schwarzenegger said he will keep making movies until the day he dies. And with that, he left the room with his trademark message to Japanese fans: “I’ll be back.”
“Escape Plan” opens in Japan on Jan 10.