ESPN is relaunching its “30 for 30″ documentary series in the fall, and it’s also starting up a companion series online called “30 for 30 Shorts.”
The first subject for the shorts series, which will run on Grantland.com, is Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Arnold’s Blueprint” will debut Sept. 26 and focus on his time in the Austrian military in the 1960s — when he began the bodybuilding career that would eventually lead to superstardom.
Rather than try to tell the whole story of his bodybuilding career (which is already pretty well-documented), directors Michael and Jeff Zimbalist decided to focus on Schwarzenegger’s military service, the initial resistance from his commanders about him pursuing that goal and their eventual support.
Schwarzenegger appeared at the Television Critics Association press tour Friday (Aug. 3) to discuss the film, and the conversation ranged a little further afield. Some highlights:
On his drive to succeed: “I never saw a ‘no’ as a ‘no.’ I always heard ‘yes.’ Whenever someone said ‘It’s impossible,’ I heard ‘It’s possible.’ … What was important to me was that I had a very clear vision of where I wanted to go. Since I was 10 or 11 years old I wanted to come to America, I wanted to be a body-building champion, the strongest man in the world and all those kinds of things. It was so clear in front of me that I was absolutely convinced that no matter what anyone said, it was possible to reach. It was now just a matter of putting the work into it.”
On sneaking away from his military base to take part in (and win) a body-building competition: “Then I came back, and of course word got around that I won the competition, but they didn’t know what to do with me, so they put me in jail for two or three days. … Then they finally let me out, and then all the sudden they celebrated, because I had a beautiful trophy with me.”
On his drug use in the “Pumping Iron” era: “Oh yes — I did steroids. At that point it was more experimental when I was competing, then there was more and more knowledge, more research as done and it exploded. … I think every sport is trying everything they can, including in bodybuilding and weightlifting, powerlifting, to get rid of drugs. The problem is it’s a very big, challenging thing to do. Every test you have to detect drugs, the drug companies make something you can’t detect.”
On working with Sylvester Stallone in the “Expendables” movies: “We’re in love with each other. … What’s really weird about it is that for 20 years, we’d been trying to [work together], but there was always something off. … Then one day, I was sitting at my hairdresser, and Sly came up to me and said, ‘It would be so great if you could just a little bit, something, in my “Expendables” movie.’ I said, ‘I’m governor. The only way I can do anything for you is if I can do it on a weekend.’ … He said, ‘We can arrange that.’ …
“The scene I did, people laughed, they liked the scene, so he said, can you be part of the second one. But instead of four hours, can you do four days. … I said next time I’m going to be there four weeks if the movie does well, and we’ll work our way up to four months.”