Arnold Schwarzenegger Gets Real About Why Filming Conan Was ‘Brutal’ And Nearly Drowning On The Set Of Another Movie

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Written By Maya Cantina

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a larger-than-life figure who has been the iconic face and bod behind some of the best action movies of the ’80s and ’90s. So imagine my surprise when the former bodybuilder shared some behind-the-scenes challenges he faced while filming some of his most memorable scenes. In a candid revelation from his official newsletter, Schwarzenegger opened up about the “brutal” experience of shooting the classic film Conan the Barbarian and a terrifying near-drowning accident during the filming of The 6th Day.

Conan the Barbarian was a turning point in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career. The Austria-born star burst onto our theater screens muscled up in his first foray into action-hero roles. As per Insider‘s report, director John Milius required a significant commitment from Schwarzenegger during the production. The leading man underwent rigorous sword training alongside the late Kiyoshi Yamazaki. Despite the challenges, Schwarzenegger faced them head-on. In his official newsletter, the Terminator actor described how intense the set of the epic fantasy film was. He shared:

Conan was brutal because there weren’t stunt guys big enough yet, so I had to crawl until my knees and elbows bled, get attacked by those dogs, and bit that real dead vulture. Luckily, lifting weights became popular, and muscular stunt guys became available.

It seems like a harrowing experience, but I guess the success of Conan, which became one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best movies and helped the former Mr. Universe become one of the most recognizable movie stars in the world, probably made it all worth it. I can only imagine that if the rumored King Conan movie ever gets made, which isn’t beyond the world of possibility since the 76-year-old is still crushing his workouts, Schwarzenegger will include a clause in his contract to prevent the use of any vultures and dogs!

Although the production of Conan the Barbarian may have been difficult, it likely wasn’t as dangerous as a stunt that nearly killed the actor. According to the former Governor of California, a swimming scene in the movie The 6th Day almost caused him to drown. He described the close call, saying:

On Sixth Day, I probably had my most dangerous stunt. It was supposed to be simple, a scene where I am swimming. But there was a cover on the pool. I was supposed to come out the same place I went in, but I got turned around and started to run out of air. I couldn’t find my way back to the exit, and I tried to stay as calm as possible but knew I didn’t have long. Luckily, my stunt double Billy Lucas realized what was happening and came in to save me.

The 6th Day is one of the most 2000s (albeit not one of the 100 best of the new millennium) movies. Directed by Roger Spottiswoode and featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, the sci-fi action film includes an ensemble cast that includes Tony Goldwyn, Michael Rapaport, Michael Rooker, Sarah Wynter and Robert Duvall. The plot revolves around a family man, who was cloned in a vast conspiracy involving a dubious billionaire, prompting a desperate struggle to clear his name and protect his loved ones. Despite its star-studded lineup, this movie is often regarded as one of the star’s less popular works, adding a touch of insult to injury given how difficult it sounds like it was to film. 

Luckily for us fans of the Governator, Arnold emerged from those difficult moments mostly unscathed, living to fight and film another day. And that’s excellent because he had so much more incredible work ahead of him, like his recent show FUBAR, available to stream with a Netflix subscription. You can also stream Conan the Barbarian on Tubi and The 6th Day on Pluto TV, with both being available for free.

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