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Despite 48 Stunt Professionals, James Cameron Nearly Risked Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis’ Life During True Lies Shooting

Published 03/15/2023, 8:01 AM EDT

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Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron have built their Hollywood career side by side. In the early 1980s, when the bodybuilding legend and Carmeron were both looking for their big break, they collaborated for The Terminator. The 1984 film made Schwarzenegger and Cameron household names. A decade later, in 1994, the iconic actor-director duo gifted cinema lovers with another blockbuster, True Lies. The all-out action film had some spectacular action sequences which involved actors doing daredevil stunts.

In his autobiography, Arnold Schwarzenegger revealed that James Cameron had “employed 48 stunt people.” However, he and Jamie Lee Curtis also performed many risky stunts.

Risking everything for cinematic perfection


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The Hollywood action star praised James Cameron for his organized workflow. “Cameron ran an incredibly organized set, and each day there was always time for work and for play,” explained Schwarzenegger. However, despite the filmmaker’s best effort, making the blockbuster action flick was a challenge.

Besides making the Terminator actor step out of his comfort zone, Cameron also expected his actors to do a lot of stunts to make the action set pieces feel organic. Despite using the 90s-era cutting-edge tech, the filmmaker also used a lot of practical effects. “Cameron was pushing the envelope with the stunts and special effects… he had the actors do many stunts ourselves,” wrote Arnie.


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In one of the most ambitious scenes of the movie, “Jamie Lee Curtis dangled from a helicopter that lowered her onto a speeding car.” Schwarzenegger also had to dive into the ocean to “escape a wall of flames.” According to Schwarzenegger performing these stunts carried a lot of risks, and one mistake could prove fatal.

Arnold Schwarzenegger trusted James Cameron not to put his actors in danger. “But those stunts were inherently risky, and if you screwed up, nobody could protect you 100 percent,” the actor wrote in his autobiography, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story. The bodybuilding legend’s worst fears almost came true.

Arnold Schwarzenegger had a close call

In the film, Harry Tasker, Schwarzenegger’s character chases the antagonist on a horse. The sequence ends with the antagonist jumping from the roof of one building to another on his motorcycle. However, when Tasker tries to do the same, the house refuses, and he nearly falls off a building. Arnie recounted how shooting that scene almost ended his life.


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Arnie knew how to ride a horse, so they got a well-trained but feisty horse. The cameramen, Schwarzenegger, and the horse were 90 feet off the ground on a gangplank built for the scene. A boom mic accidentally hit the horse during the prep, sending it into a frenzy. The action star slid off but feared the horse would push him off the ledge. However, stunt director Joel Kramer jumped on the animal and calmed it down, saving Arnold from falling 90 feet on the cement floor.


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What did you make of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s account of filming the stunts for True Lies? Let us know in the comments.



Sagnik Bagchi

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Sagnik Bagchi is a US Sports writer for EssentiallySports. He has completed his Bachelor's and Master's in English Literature from the University of Calcutta. He has experience working as a freelance MMA writer for Sportskeeda.

Edited By: Simar Singh Wadhwa