The Austrian-born actor, producer, former bodybuilder and governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most successful box office stars in history. With over 50 credits grossing more than $4 billion worldwide, Schwarzenegger ranks among the top 40 highest-grossing stars of all time.
To celebrate his 75th birthday, Variety ranks his 10 best film performances.
With a career that began by playing a “special agent” infiltrating a gym in “Stay Hungry” (1976) and a spotlight in the documentary feature classic “Pumping Iron” (1977), Schwarzenegger went on to become one of the most influential and classic action stars of his generation.
His breakout role came with the epic adaptation “Conan the Barbarian” (1982), directed by John Milius and co-written by Oscar-winner Oliver Stone. An instant box office success, he moved on to the defining franchise of his career with “The Terminator” (1984), playing the villainous cyborg sent back in time to kill the mother of humanity’s savior John Connor. It spawned one of the best sequels ever made with “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” (1991). This time, Schwarzenegger became the protector of young Connor (played by Edward Furlong) alongside an Oscar-worthy performance by Linda Hamilton.
Schwarzenegger was a dominant force in the ’80s and ’90s, with roles in “Commando” (1985), “Predator” (1987), “Twins” (1988), “Kindergarten Cop” (1990), “Total Recall” (1990) and “True Lies” (1994).
He garnered a few accolades despite being considered “one-note” to film critics. Schwarzenegger was nominated for a Golden Globe for lead actor (comedy) for his performance as a man who becomes pregnant in “Junior” (1994) and won an Emmy as an executive producer alongside his longtime friend and collaborator James Cameron for the docuseries “Years of Living Dangerously” (2014).
Read Variety’s rankings below and watch his best scene from each listed performance.
Honorable mentions: “Conan the Barbarian” (1982); “Red Sonja” (1985); “Last Action Hero” (1993); “Jingle All the Way” (1996); “Batman & Robin” (1997)