Arnie says fitness boom shows way on climate fight
The Terminator movies have always painted a bleak picture of the future of humanity.
In the five movies so far - with a sixth to come this week - since director James Cameron's original 1984 breakout hit about a cyborg assassin sent back in time, the human race has faced annihilation again and again at the hands of sentient machines and nuclear Armageddon.
That ever-repeating scenario would be enough to make anyone doubt our survival, but veteran Hollywood superstar, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has played the killer machine in different guises in all but one of the Terminator films, takes a different view.
"I think we have a good chance of making it," says Schwarzenegger in his unmistakeable Austrian accented tones from South Korea, where he is talking up Dark Fate, the sixth film in the franchise and the first to reunite him with his long-time friend Cameron and original star Linda Hamilton since the worldwide smash Judgment Day in 1991.
Schwarzenegger has been the one constant for the Terminator movies - even the one he couldn't appear in while he was Governor of California featured his digital likeness. The first film catapulted him from a businessman and bodybuilder with acting aspirations into a bona fide superstar, and kicked off a career that saw him become one of the richest and most powerful figures in Hollywood, which he then parlayed into a successful political career.
His tenure as a Republican in charge of the Golden State saw him take charge of the world's fifth largest economy and was characterised by environmental initiatives such as the nation's first cap on greenhouse gas emissions.
A fierce critic of the current occupant of the White House, Schwarzenegger has been passionate and outspoken about environmental issues such as climate change and clean energy ever since and believes public attitudes will shift in the same way that they did around fitness.
"I am a very optimistic person so I see us turning and getting control over the environmental situation," Schwarzenegger says.
"I think that people will come to their senses eventually and I think the key thing is that we keep talking about it and keep inspiring the leaders. It's no different than the fitness movement. Forty years ago everyone said 'there will never be gymnasiums all over the place' and now they have them in every hotel and everywhere you go - every police and fire station every military base every YMCA, every high school and university."
The father of five has also become a powerful ally of 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, recently arranging a Tesla for her on a US tour, and admitting to being "star struck" when they met at Schwarzenegger's Austrian World Summit.
"She is unique in her ability because she is a child and that puts a whole new spin on the question about what is being done about creating a clean future," he says admiringly. "Because the ones who are going to inherit this mess is going to be the next generation and so she is speaking for the next generation. She is saying 'wait a minute - your failure today will affect our generation when I grow up and become an adult - so don't screw that up because I will never forgive you for that'."
While it's widely acknowledged that the first two Terminator films are among the best sci-fi action films ever made, the quality dropped off markedly after creator Cameron checked out, going on to direct Titanic and then Avatar, both of which became the highest grossing films ever.
Cameron has been politely dismissive of Rise Of the Machines (2003), Salvation (2009) and Genisys (2015), telling Hit. TV that "I don't have a lot of respect for the films that were made later". Schwarzenegger, however, says he's proud of them all, although admits there is something special about getting the original team back together.
"I think that Jim Cameron has approached it that way and maybe Linda Hamilton has approached it that way but I don't," he says, when asked if he pretended the later sequels didn't exist for the purposes of continuity on Dark Fate.
"I know that I made Terminator 3 and 5 - I didn't make 4 because I was Governor then - so I don't pretend that I didn't.
"First of all, I enjoyed making those but I have to say it's much better when you have Jim Cameron and Linda involved. It really makes this one of the original Terminators. It's like putting Terminator 1 and 2 in to a blender and mixed it up and what came out is Terminator 6."
Schwarzenegger's version of the relentless steel skeleton wrapped in flesh in Dark Fate is once again slightly different, having lived a quiet life as a human for decades and making his own decisions rather than receiving programmed orders from his artificial intelligence overlords from the future.
"He kind of struggles with being half-machine and half-human because up until now I have played half-machine, half-human physically but not mentally. This is the first time we see him struggling mentally with what that means."
Underneath the beard and wrinkles however, lurks the same efficient machine with super strength and endurance, meaning that the now 72-year-old Schwarzenegger had to move and act as he did more than three decades ago. No problem, says the still shredded fitness freak, who will return to Melbourne in March for his annual Arnold Sports Festival.
"I can do my stunts still and I can do the physical stuff still because I train every day and stay physically fit and then when I do the stunts I prepare myself," he says. "I believe in reps so I do as many as possible when we practice and then when we actually do it, it's very smooth and effortless, which is a very important thing because the Terminator as a machine is effortless."
There are limits though, even for nearly unkillable Terminators.
"It was always the rule that whatever I can do I will do and whatever is dangerous to do because it can get you killed, then you let the stunt guys do it."
Terminator: Dark Fate opens tomorrow.