Photos by Bradley Meinz

People Who Waited for Hours to See an Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Marathon on What He Means to Them

Late Saturday afternoon — a mere eight or so hours before the clock struck midnight and Arnold Schwarzenegger turned 70—more than 220 people showed up at the New Beverly Cinema in West Hollywood for an all-night movie marathon in the action star’s honor.

The men and women, who began lining up outside the theater around 4:30 p.m., had no idea which six movies would be featured — the lineup was kept secret — or even when the marathon might end. But to meet an Arnold mega fan is to understand that such details such don’t really matter. Each and every one of Arnold’s films has some classic one-liner, famous Arnold yell or flexed bicep that can make even double-digit viewings enjoyable. (For the record, the films shown on Saturday night/Sunday morning were Predator, Kindergarten Cop, Raw Deal, Red Sonja, The Terminator and Commando.)

Given all that Arnold represents—as an Austrian immigrant, champion bodybuilder, movie star, politician, RINO, Trump adversary, Kennedy family member (by marriage), recently problematic divorcee and father of his housekeeper’s child — we thought it would be interesting to ask each of the people in attendance three questions: 1) What’s your favorite Arnold movie?; 2) What does Arnold mean to you?; and 3) What does Arnold mean to men?

This is how they answered…

Jeff Gurwood

What’s your favorite Arnold movie?
Terminator 2.

What does Arnold mean to you?
He’s my childhood hero. So he encapsulates what my childhood was all about — action and adventure. He’s also my favorite Republican because he transcends all the nonsense.

What does Arnold mean to men?
He’s embodiment of the American dream. He shows that someone who came from nothing can be a hero to men all over the world.

Andrew Khorsand

What’s your favorite Arnold movie?
That’s a tough one. He’s made a handful of great films. Some guilty pleasures, some that are so fucking bad they’re good. But I’d have to say the original Terminator because I appreciate low-budget filmmaking.

What does Arnold mean to you?
He inspires me to just fucking go for it, no matter what.

What does Arnold mean to men?
That there’s always room to better themselves, because there’s no limit to their potential.

Eduardo Victoria

What’s your favorite Arnold movie?
I don’t know if I could pick one. But Total Recall would be up there. Predator, too. Predator is my gold standard for performances, lack of dialogue and physicality. Arnold gives a powerful performance in that film.

What does Arnold mean to you?
Part nostalgia, part presence.

What does Arnold mean to men?
He provides them with a larger-than-life persona who comes at it from all angles.

Christopher Stefanic

What’s your favorite Arnold movie?
Conan the Barbarian. It has Arnold at the top of his game, Sandahl Bergman looking as beautiful as ever and John Milius’ witty, clever and exciting script.

What does Arnold mean to you?
Determination and will.

What does Arnold mean to men?
That it’s okay to be masculine and sensitive at the same time, which is beautiful. Christopher Reeve kind of set that tone when he was Superman, and he said, “I like pink very much, Lois.” That always made me feel like it was okay to have a feminine side.

But Arnold took it a step further. While he was in a lot of action movies, he had a sensitive side in many of them. Like Commando, with Alyssa Milano — he has a little girl he’s trying to save. And even Conan, the best element of the picture is the spiritual element with the anvil and all of that. It’s beautiful and really speaks to me — about masculinity, about spirituality and about where we go from here.

Erik Wacker and Anna Armendariz

What are your favorite Arnold movies?
AA:
It’s gotta be Predator.
EW: Probably Terminator 2. That might be the first movie I ever saw, and I’ve seen it maybe more than any other movie ever.

What does Arnold mean to you?
EW:
He’s just given me a lot of joy through the years.
AA: I’m on the same page with that one.

What does Arnold mean to men?
AA:
The epitome of strong-man cool.
EW: The pinnacle of manliness.

Nick Murphy

What’s your favorite Arnold movie?
Terminator 2, the director’s cut. When I was 12 years old, my friend and I would call the video store every half hour to see if they had a copy — so much so that they told us, “WE DON’T HAVE A COPY. PLEASE STOP CALLING.” Finally, though, one day they did. I yelled at my grandma, “We gotta get to the video store right now!”

She coasted down there, and my friend and I hopped out of the car, tore into the video store and looked for copies — at that point, any available copies were behind empty VHS boxes. But nothing. It was like something out of a bad dream.

Finally, I saw it!

At the same time, however, another guy reached for it. I screamed, “NOOOOO!” so loudly that he almost dropped the movie. “What is it!?” he asked me, kind of shaken. “We’ve been calling forever for this movie!” I responded. He was super nice about it and actually handed over the tape to us.

What does Arnold mean to you?
My life was very chaotic growing up. And so, Arnold was a symbol of strength and protection. He didn’t take any bullshit and could fight back when I couldn’t.

What does Arnold mean to men?
Perseverance. And not just for men, either — women, too.

Jake Shears

What’s your favorite Arnold movie?
Probably Total Recall. I love how dirty and sleazy it is. It’s pure Paul Verhoeven madness. The effects are really gross, too. I also love how now it looks really chintzy in a strange way. Everybody gets their heads blown off as well. Not to mention, the mutants are so cool. It’s just a lot of fun.

What does Arnold mean to you?
He’s just ridiculously fucking hot and sexy. It could be the worst Arnie movie on the planet, but you still can’t take your eyes off of him — just that face. He makes me pretty weak in the knees.

What does Arnold mean to men?
He’s the ultimate male icon.

Julianna (Jules) Brudek

What’s your favorite Arnold movie?
Total Recall. It seems so inventive. And Arnold seems like a fish out of water in it. I also love that he starts out as this average Joe before getting a whole new identity. Then, suddenly, he’s killing his traitor wife—who’s played by Sharon Stone, by the way—and becoming a hero.

What does Arnold mean to you?
I have a friend who lived near him in the 1980s. She said he was exactly who he appears to be — a thoughtful, nice guy. To me, that’s what he represents. He doesn’t seem corrupt or dark. If anything, he seems kind of vanilla. Even when he had sex with the housekeeper, it didn’t really seem to stick. He’s impervious to that kind of thing.

Personally speaking, as a woman, there’s something very seductive about his charm. He seems to be that dream — the big, loyal protector. That virility really transcends the screen.

What does Arnold mean to men?
The quintessential American dream.

Molly Mahan

What’s your favorite Arnold movie?
Predator and Pumping Iron. Predator because when I was a kid, my brother would attack me with his Alien figures, but my Predator figure would kill them. Pumping Iron because I like to watch it once a year to always remind myself to set goals and fucking achieve them. Not to mention: “Always be coming — day and night, coming all the time.” And: “Milk is for babies; when you grow up, you drink beer.

What does Arnold mean to you?
Oh shit, so much. One, just the fact that he knows who he wants to be and does it — come hell or high water. Two, I went to a Conan the Barbarian screening a couple of years ago, and one of the art directors was there. They were talking about Arnold and how [director] John Milius said during the screen test, “There’s something off.” Arnold was like, “Ahh, it’s the body.” Because he’d just come off doing Mr. Olympia. Three weeks later, he came back with a completely reformed physique. He knew exactly what it was even when somebody else couldn’t quite figure it out.

What does Arnold mean to men?
He’s like the ultimate dude, right? I mean, I think him as Dutch in Predator is the most perfect example of a man. He looks the best in that role. He’s not fucking super huge, but he’s definitely cut. Plus, the cigars, and all the rest of it.

Tim Kvasnosky

What’s your favorite Arnold movie?
The Running Man. I love the feeling of it, and I’m obsessed with Harold Faltermeyer’s soundtrack. It’s just such a strong theme; it carries you through the whole thing. It also just has this great fucking mood, and these great analog synths. It’s warm and dark; it’s scary and beautiful.

What does Arnold mean to you?
He’s the ultimate badass. He’s the guy who can handle any kind of problems and who takes adversity head-on. He’s the classic male fantasy of beating up everyone and getting the girl. It’s just awesome ridiculousness — vengeance, anger and killing!

What does Arnold mean to men?
Even in a world where men are doing drum circles, expressing their emotions and trying to find their masculinity, I don’t necessarily think Arnold is this icon of toxic masculinity. I think if anything, there’s a generational gap. He’s merely following in the footsteps of John Wayne. And like John Wayne, he’s just a tough guy and really good badass. That’s really why we’re all out here tonight.

—As told to Craig MacNeil