Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback in the upcoming action-thriller The Last Stand may be good news for his dwindling band of fans but they're being drowned out by jeers and catcalls from the anti-Arnie brigade.
As Governor of California for eight years, the man dubbed the 'Governator' made a lot of unpopular decisions and his image took a further battering after revelations that he fathered a son with his housekeeper, evidently the last straw for his wife Maria Shriver, who filed for divorce.
In May he appeared to put comeback plans on hold when he announced he wouldn't commit to any production schedules while he focused on “personal matters.”
But last week Lionsgate confirmed the actor, who turns 64 on July 30, will play a small-town Sheriff who tangles with an escaped drug kingpin in The Last Stand, the English-language debut of Korean director Kim-Jee-Woon.
The story was broken by Deadline.com, which quoted a Lionsgate exec as saying, “It's an old-fashioned specifically designed for a 63-year-old broken-down guy with a moral decision whether Arnold decides to stand up for his town (sic). We always needed an iconic figure for it."
If the Lionsgate brass were hoping for an outpouring of support for Schwarzenegger, they may have been surprised by the virulent reaction from Deadline's readers.
“He vetoed gay marriage twice while committing adultery for years. Drop dead Arnold,” said one non-admirer who clearly won't be buying a ticket to that movie or any of his further films.
Among the other dismissive comments: “Terminator with a Stetson. Pass.” “Shame it's not a Western with horses. Arnold would be perfect as an ass.” “Hey, Arnold, shoot this movie in California you backstabbing jerk off.”
One of his few defenders opined, “If we're not going to se a movie just because the star cheated on his wife, then Hollywood's in serious trouble.”
According to Deadline, Arnie's pay-day will be less than the $U12.5 million salary plus 25 per cent of first dollar gross he was to receive for Cry Macho, a movie based on a novel by N. Richard Nash about a down-on-his-luck horse trainer who's hired to kidnap a 9-year-old boy, only to discover the kid's mother doesn't want him back.
That project, which was to be director Brad Furman's follow-up to The Lincoln Lawyer, is now on hold, as are plans for The Governator, a superhero cartoon series and comic book based on his nickname in office, and a fifth edition of the Terminator franchise which Justin Lin was in line to direct.
Apart from an admittedly hilarious cameo in The Expendables (pictured) and a similarly brief appearance in The Kid & I, his last movie was the Around the World in 80 Days remake.
If the actor once known as the Austrian Oak does manage to restart his career after the scandal that might be of some comfort to Mel Gibson, whose once-shiny reputation and job prospects have been tarnished by bad behaviour.