Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Conan prepping for his ‘Unforgiven’ turn

Oct. 26, 2012 | 3:19 p.m.
conan copy Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Conan prepping for his Unforgiven turn

Arnold Schwarzenegger in a scene from the 1982 film “Conan the Barbarian,” left, and during his term as governor of California, right. (Reuters; Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Before he was the Terminator, he was Conan the Barbarian. Now, some 30 years after his screen breakthrough in “Conan the Barbarian,” the former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed on to a new movie project that would see him reclaim his warrior’s throne.

Universal confirmed today that it is moving forward on “The Legend of Conan,” as the new movie will be titled (with a planned release in 2014). The project arrives as the latest splashy star vehicle for the Governator, who inhabits a small part in two “Expendables” films, will be next seen as a small-town sheriff battling a drug cartel in “The Last Stand,” set for release early next year, and is currently filming “Ten,” a David Ayer-directed thriller in which he portrays a Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

Created in the 1930s by pulp author Robert E. Howard and immortalized by Schwarzenegger in 1982’s camp-movie classic, Conan the Barbarian evolved from a menacing killer into an amiable superhero. Featured in Marvel comic books, a Saturday morning cartoon and a Universal Studios Hollywood stage show, the conqueror slowly but unquestionably went soft.

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momoa 1 Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Conan prepping for his Unforgiven turn

Jason Momoa as the title character in 2011’s “Conan the Barbarian.” (Simon Varsano / Lionsgate)

That prompted Lionsgate to attempt a $90-million hard-R franchise reboot last year with former “Baywatch” and “Game of Thrones” star Jason Momoa swinging the broadsword, but it flopped, taking in just $48 million at the box office.

With the new project, the filmmakers appear hopeful that returning Schwarzenegger to the screen will serve the character, the actor and the franchise’s interests equally. But there might be one hitch to Conan’s comeback.

While doing the promo rounds for his memoir “Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story” last month, one constant comment nagged at Schwarzenegger — namely that he’s much more physically diminished than moviegoers remember him. While hardly a little old man, the 65-year-old is most not the bodybuilder who put Hollywood in a headlock four decades ago.

That perception will focus debate about his latest movie: Are multiplex audiences really clamoring for a barbarian who qualifies for AARP rates? Will fans accept a Schwarzenegger whose deltoids are no longer as knotted and burnished as challah bread? The in-built mucho macho factor of that first film, written with testosterone-y gusto by Oliver Stone and directed by John Milius, would seem to preclude the existence of a “Golden Girls”-edition barbarian.

Moreover, the character in all previous installments was partial to leather Speedos and furry codpieces – not necessarily the kind of thing you want to see a 65-year old wearing on a 30-foot wide screen.

“Legend of Conan” producer Chris Morgan — a screenwriter whose credits include “Wanted” and four of the films in the “Fast & the Furious” franchise — told Deadline that the new movie won’t shy away from the fact that Schwarzenegger is now a bona fide senior citizen and even compared the upcoming film to a certain Clint Eastwood old age western.

“This movie picks up Conan where Arnold is now in his life, and we will be able to use the fact that he has aged in this story,” Morgan said. “We think this is a worthy successor to the original film. Think of this as Conan’s ‘Unforgiven.’”

— Chris Lee


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25 Responses to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Conan prepping for his ‘Unforgiven’ turn

  1. termanal says:

    excuse me camp? the first conan was not camp while the 2nd was as they changed genre's and its rating to target the pg -13 crowd.

  2. Dick Anderson says:

    1982-2012=30 years. Don’t any of your copy editors know math?

  3. @undefined says:

    The 1982 film isn't that campy at all (John Milius would punch you in the face for saying so)… rather, it's a product of its time, but it stands up well in terms of pure, gory action and fantasy. A dash of humor doesn't hurt the film so much as make it more accessible to audiences then and now.

  4. Mary Anne Landers says:

    Schwarzenegger is 65 years old. So that would make him "Conan the Sexagenarian".

  5. Scott says:

    All jokes aside, a movie featuring an aging Conan would match the original Conan pulp short stories and novels which began in the 1930's. Conan's first adventure is as a teenage runaway slave, and in his last adventure, he's pushing 70 years old, as a King. Also notable, in the final scene of Conan The Barbarian, Arnold is seen sitting on a throne, with gray hair.

  6. Joe says:

    Give em a cycle of testosterone and watch him explod, after all its made for old men!

  7. Gary says:

    The Conan of the present, ——- Think king Ossric of the first film, only a little more
    weathered, mean, and bitter. The film should contain some flashbacks to the first
    film from time to time, to finish the story.

  8. Jeff Smith says:

    I welcome the news.I loved the original (not Destroyer-far too silly).I wasn't even interested in seeing the new Conan when I heard that Arnold wasn't the star.Glad to hear that he's back.Hopefully he'll also do a True Lies sequel-that would be kool as well.I hope that they'll use some of the original Basil Poledouris score from Barbarian and even get John Milius and Ron Cobb involved again.Watching "The Making Of Conan" on the DVD's you can see how much they enjoyed working on the original.Looking forward to it!. "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."-Friedrich Nietzsche

  9. Rob Lloyd says:

    Has no one heard of muscle memory? I'm damn sure that if Arnold trained like hell it wouldn't take him long to get back into the kind of shape we're used to seeing him in despite his age.

  10. Brad says:

    Conan, what is best in life?

    "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women."

  11. Ray says:

    In a different article, the producer, Fredrik Malmberg told Deadline, "The original ended with Arnold on the throne as a seasoned warrior, and this is the take of the film we will make. It's that Nordic Viking mythic guy who has played the role of king, warrior, soldier and mercenary, and who has bedded more women than anyone, nearing the last cycle of his life. He knows he'll be going to Valhalla, and wants to go out with a good battle."
    Gads. I really hope Malmberg reads the books. Conan is NOT "Nordic", and doesn't believe in Valhalla. He's a Cimmerian, LONG before Vikings, etc.

  12. seth bullock says:

    instead of legend of conan , do conan the king , like the comics , that guy from baywatch could play the son conn .

  13. Trundle says:

    I will pay anything to watch Arnold as Conan again. I love the Conan mythos since my teenage yaers. Alas, there will be no Poledouris for the music score…

  14. Parent says:

    Conan the geriatric, I think I would rather watch paint dry. He should retire, well past his prime, and his acting has only gotten worse over the years. Jason Momoa did a great job and should definatly do it agan.

  15. bill says:

    I was John Milius's script and directing and Basil Poledouris score that made the original a classic. Please don't let Chris Morgan turn this into generic action slop.

  16. mike says:

    first off conan wasnt camp the 1982 conan many feel is the best action movie ever made second arnold has gotten back into really good shape since he made that statement look at the picture of him bike riding his arms are huge again and they could touch his body up with pcs these days regardlesss hes back as conan thats what matters krom

  17. LT56 says:

    I don't think Arnold CAN train anymore, testosterone and HGH injections notwithstanding; his heart is damaged and cannot beat over 120 bpm, his joints have been messed since he was 30, and he's had at least 2 rotator cuff injuries. If he DOES manage to train, he would have to do it under strict supervision of a medical professional.

  18. Fred says:

    This movie will be epic, guaranteed, and Arnold is already in hella good shape again, never doubt Arnold that's just stupid!

  19. Charlie says:

    If anyone can get into decent shape again at the age of 65 it's Arnold, don't forget he was one of the greatest Bodybuilders of All Time people, he knows how to put on muscle, sure he won't look like he did when he was young but he can add size and look decent I'm sure!

  20. Stuart Colley says:

    Can't wait about time!

  21. Crom says:

    These movies should be changed to Clonan the barbarian…they rape Conan with the murder of his parents in both 1982 and 2011 its a the same old same old story like most rpgs …why can’t they go by the books we need a director like the one who did LOTR..we want it true to the books…

    2011 had more of the Conan feel and even looked more like Conan with the black hair unlike the brown hair of 1982…yet no blue eyes for either film

    1982 film better story and better weapons with a better soundtrack with far better characters and villians….

    Arnolds look helped the Conan look in comics and etc in the 80s and afterwards..but his accent was crap for Conan…but I cant wait for this new movie I hope they keep the feel of the 2011 with a mixture of the 82…

  22. val says:


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