“If he wanted to play King Lear, he could do it”
The words of Jack Nicholson’s acting tutor Eric Morris… but it wasn’t Nicholson these words were referencing.
You wouldn’t have guessed it but Morris was talking about our very own Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It’s a surprise to many that the man famed for his action hero antics could have been an accomplished actor according to the man who prepared hime for his role in Bob Rafelson movie, Stay Hungry.
And something even fewer people realise was that Arnie actually won the Golden Globe that year (1977) for Most Promising Newcomer.
Ultimately, however, Arnie made a conscious decision to turn away from the rigours of digging into his emotions to prepare for roles…
… in direct contrast with how he mentally prepared when training his body for competition, according to unofficial biography, True Myths (by Nigel Andrews).
Here’s how Arnie reportedly saw it:
“Acting was an enormous challenge for me. In physical competition I’d had to learn to keep my emotions under control. To discipline myself against my emotions.You almost have to build a wall around yourself, guard against your own feelings… Well – of course in acting, it’s exactly the opposite.
“You have to be sensitive to yourself and to those you’re working with. Stay open. Keep your defenses down.”
In the end, Arnold decided “he was better off being an icon”.
The fact it was a conscious choice is staggering.
And I don’t – for one moment – believe that if he hadn’t made the other choice, we’d have seen him having his Rocky Oscar moment.
Ultimately, though, I’m glad he made the choice to become the action hero.
I’d swap a serious Arnie recitation of King Lear’s:
“Who is it that can tell me who I am?”
… for classic lines, such as:
“You want to be a farmer? Here’s a couple of acres”
“Let off some steam… Bennett!”
“Don’t disturb my friend… he dead tired.”
(…. who needs a piffling Oscar when you’ve given voice to those gems?)
The point is you could be good at anything if you put your mind to it.
Yet some things just come more naturally and more easily.
Arnie was always destined to be the star he became.
The serious acting was almost a blip.
(It was an important blip as it showed him what he was capable of… but essentially it was an alternate reality)
You should always strive to improve your weaknesses. Always.
But when you find a path of least resistance, take it.
Myself, for example. Copy comes naturally to me.
It’s everything I’ve ever done.
I read tons.
I write tons.
It’s flows out of my mind onto the page like a tap.
To resist it would be futile.
As Arnie would say, choosing copy as my superpower was IN-EFF-IT-A-BLE!
So… what’s your strength?
What’s your path of least resistance?
Legendary coach Dan Sullivan frames it as your unique ability.
Find it and focus on it.
(And get someone else to do all the other stuff for you…
That right there was one of the biggest lessons I’ve ever learned and it took me far, far too long.)
Arnie knew that winning an Oscar was someone else’s dream.
His was to be the biggest movie star of all time.
He achieved it.
Oscar not required.
(See, I’m still trying to keep with the Easter theme.)