Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest action blockbuster, "The 6th Day," due in theaters Nov. 17, is about a guy who comes home from work one night and finds a party going on, peeks through the curtains and is shocked to discover that he's been cloned.
Sounds like yet another man-against-all-odds saga for the bodybuilder-turned-Terminator, except for one thing: It's rated PG-13. This from a movie star best known for gun-toting, R-rated mega-hits like "True Lies" and "Terminator 2: Judgment Day"? What's up, Arnold?
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday October 11, 2000 Home Edition Calendar Part F Page 2 Entertainment Desk 1 inches; 24 words Type of Material: Correction
Film rating--A story in Tuesday's Calendar about Arnold Schwarzenegger incorrectly referred to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" as having been rated PG-13. The film was rated PG.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday October 12, 2000 Home Edition Calendar Part F Page 56 Entertainment Desk 1 inches; 19 words Type of Material: Correction
Family size--Arnold Schwarzenegger has four children. A story about the actor in Tuesday's Calendar misstated the size of his family.
"You have to say, 'OK, people are talking about the violence and this and that. What can I do? Let's tone it down a little bit,' " the 53-year-old father of three said over lunch the other day, explaining his decision to make not only more lighthearted comedies (think "Kindergarten Cop"), but more PG-13 action fare.
"I'm going more in that direction anyway, because my age now is such that I feel naturally more responsible," he said as he munched on a microwaved Cornish game hen in his trailer during a break on "The 6th Day" set. "At the age of 30, you run around, you say, 'I want to do the biggest blow-ups, the biggest shooting. I want to have the biggest body count and all those things.' But then when you get to be over 50 and you have a family, you see that you should broaden out and do other things."
As debate about the impact of Hollywood violence continues in Washington, Schwarzenegger may seem an unlikely champion of self-restraint. This, after all, is the same Schwarzenegger who, playing a construction worker whose brain is controlled by malevolent forces in "Total Recall," shot his wife and quipped, "Consider that a divorce!" This is the same Schwarzenegger who, as a killer robot from a robot-controlled future in "The Terminator," promised a guard at a police station, "I'll be back!" (and sure enough, drove his car into the building, spraying bullets all the way).
But the affable Schwarzenegger--who is seriously considering a run for office himself some day--is proof that fatherhood forces even tough guys to think about the consequences of their actions. While he disagrees with assertions that entertainment is largely to blame for societal ills ("I think where it really falls apart is in parenting," he asserts), Schwarzenegger believes Hollywood does have a role to play.
"Particularly when I see my children looking for films, and I see this is R-rated and that is R-rated, I think the trick is to do these action movies, but to bring it down, so you cut away when you shoot somebody," he said, adding that recent proposals to limit the marketing of violent movies to kids are "not the answer to the whole thing, but it's a place where we could tighten the belt."
"We could say to all those marketing people, 'Look, we know that if you sell an R-rated movie to 12-year-olds, they will want to go and see it. But is it really good in the end for our country to let them in?' " he said. "Or should we come up with a system where we really don't let any kids in whether they're with a parent or not? Because to me, that's bogus: 'with parents.' Do I want my children watching incredible violence? No. You have to be much more careful with these things."
Just moments before sharing these civic-minded observations, Schwarzenegger had been waving a humongous gun in the face of a gooey-looking malformed clone played by Tony Goldwyn. Inside Columbia Pictures' Sound Stage 29 in Culver City, where director Roger Spottiswoode was shooting pickup scenes for "The 6th Day," Schwarzenegger--with a brown leather bomber jacket and a fake abrasion above his left eye--delivered his special brand of tongue-in-cheek patter.
"We all have to die someday," Schwarzenegger, as helicopter pilot Adam Gibson, told Goldwyn.
"You're wrong, Adam," said Goldwyn's evil scientist, Drucker, whose melted features looked oddly shiny, as if he'd been dipped in petroleum jelly. "I'm offering you the chance to live forever. Never aging. Perfect in every way."
"Perfect?" Schwarzenegger bellowed, his huge firearm gleaming. "Like you? You're a monster! A half-baked monster!"
Schwarzenegger himself seems comfortable with getting older, although he knows that just a few years ago, his mortality made the movie industry consider leaving him for dead. It was 1997 when he underwent elective heart surgery to replace a faulty valve. He was fit. He was trim. And both he and his doctors insisted that he was as sturdy as ever. But the whiff of illness, he says, sent the major studios into retreat.