Arnold Schwarzenegger’s First Movie: A Disastrous Debut at 22 Years Old

Arnold Schwarzenegger, a world-famous actor, had a rocky start to his acting career 54 years ago. Long before he rose to fame with “Conan the Barbarian” (1982) and laid the foundation for an extraordinary action career, the future Terminator made his acting debut in the fantasy film “Hercules in New York” in 1970. And it went completely wrong.

Schwarzenegger was dubbed in his first movie role because no one could understand him. As iconic as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s heavily accented English is now, it was not always the case. At the age of 22, the bodybuilder landed the lead role in “Hercules in New York” – though not under the name Arnold Schwarzenegger, but as Arnold Strong “Mr. Universe”. In it, the actor plays Hercules, the son of the gods, who leaves behind his boring life on Mount Olympus to embark on an exciting adventure on Earth.

However, the production studio was concerned about his pronounced and sometimes incomprehensible accent, as well as the stiff acting of the then newcomer. And so Arnold’s dialogue passages were completely dubbed by someone else for the film’s release in 1970. Subsequent releases restored the original version, including the actor’s legendary English.

With an IMDb score of 3.3, “Hercules in New York” is the lowest-rated film in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s filmography – just behind “Batman & Robin”, with 3.8 points. AdoroCinema readers give the film an average rating of 2.7 stars (out of 5 possible).

Schwarzenegger himself finds his film debut absolutely ridiculous. His poor performance in “Hercules in New York” certainly contributed to the film gaining a cult status over time as a fun trash gem. But how does the action star feel about his embarrassing debut? He takes it in good humor. In an interview with Business Insider in 2017, Schwarzenegger explained that he watched many of his movies again years later because of his children. “Hercules in New York” was one of them:

“In the movie, my name was Arnold Strong. I was really dumb. At some point, I watched the movie again because my kids were watching it. It was very stupid. In one scene, I’m fighting a bear in Central Park, but you can see it’s a guy in a coat. […] I just had to watch it because it was so ridiculous.”

If you’re planning to watch the movie on your next movie night, “Hercules in New York” can be seen with a premium subscription to Prime Video. Stay updated on movie and series news and receive exclusive opportunities. Listen to OdeioCinema on Spotify or your favorite audio platform, join our WhatsApp Channel, and become a Card-Carrying Adorer!