Arnold Schwarzenegger will make his first dive into event television by teaming up with Amazon for the Western series Outrider. The star of The Terminator, Predator, Total Recall and other classic movies has held down only one prior regular television job, as host of NBC’s The New Celebrity Apprentice. That gig lasted only one year.
A one-time Mr. Universe, Schwarzenegger in the early ’80s began building a movie career that would later become legendary. Schwarzenegger’s breakout came in 1982’s Conan the Barbarian, playing the titular mythic hero. Schwarzenegger would subsequently rise to become Hollywood’s most bankable action star. He branched out into comedy in 1988 with Twins, co-starring Danny DeVito. Schwarzenegger reached arguably the peak of his powers with 1991’s blockbuster sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day. However, his star would then decline slowly through a series of increasingly tired ’90s vehicles. In 2003 he suspended his movie career altogether so he could serve as governor of California. His stint as “Governator” ended in 2011 and he returned to his movie career. In recent years, Schwarzenegger has mixed attempts at legitimate dramatic roles with parts that deliberately spoof his action hero image.
Schwarzenegger will now steer his career in a new direction, teaming up with Amazon for the Western Outrider. Variety reports that Schwarzenegger will also executive produce the event series together with Trey Callaway, Mark Montgomery and Mace Neufeld. Callaway and Mark Montgomery will also write. Incidentally, Amazon also plans a Conan the Barbarian TV series, though Schwarzenegger will not be coming back as the iconic character (as far as we know).
Set in Oklahoma Indian Territory in the 1800s, Outrider follows a deputy who partners with a Federal Marshall (Schwarzenegger) to catch a famous outlaw. Arnold Schwarzenegger playing a Marshall in the Old West? It may sound like a case of insane miscasting, but that’s par for the course when it comes to Schwarzenegger. The actor has spent the majority of his career fighting the fact that he doesn’t make sense in most roles. And he almost always manages to sell it.
All that being said, this sounds like one of the hardest sell-jobs of Schwarzenegger’s career. There’s actually a pretty good reason that Schwarzenegger has stayed away from traditional Westerns throughout his career. He’s been able to sell himself as a lot of things over the years – a spy, a “regular guy construction worker” who happens to be married to Sharon Stone, a Kindergarten Cop – but who can imagine Schwarzenegger as a cowboy? In his only prior Western role, opposite Kirk Douglas in The Villain, he played a deliberately comical doofus because nothing else would have been imaginable at the time. In the Outrider, it sounds like Schwarzenegger will play a legitimate dramatic Western figure – in other words, this time he’s Kirk Douglas. We’ll see if he can pull it off.
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