Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Breakthrough Comedy Just Landed On Netflix

Arnold Schwarzenegger made the jump from action films to comedies with the success of Twins, alongside Danny DeVito.

By Sean Thiessen | Published

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In the late 1980s, action star Arnold Schwarzenegger broke the mold by venturing into the world of comedy in director Ivan Reitman’s Twins, which is now streaming on Netflix. The film pairs The Terminator actor alongside Danny DeVito as an unlikely set of twins created in a laboratory experiment who reunite after they were separated at birth. An article by Film Stories details the wild path that took Schwarzenegger from hardcore action hero to comedy revelation.

In the mid-80s, Arnold Schwarzenegger had a lot of questions about comedy, and a budding desire to give the genre a go. His friend, comedian Milton Berle, gave him pointers and introduced him to people in the comedy scene, but it wasn’t until a fateful ski trip that Schwarzenegger’s comedy ambition turned the corner. While on vacation at a mountain resort, Schwarzenegger met Robin Williams and Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman.

After some time together exchanging stories and punchlines, Reitman glimpsed a side of Arnold Schwarzenegger that was softer and funnier than he’d ever seen the action star display on the big screen. That led Reitman to recruit writers who generated story pitches for an Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy, and one in particular caught Mr. Universe’s eye. It was a story called The Experiment, which followed a physically and personally disparate set of twins.

The title was changed to Twins and the movie was off to the races, with one catch. Universal viewed the Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy experiment as a large risk and was wary of paying Schwarzenegger, DeVito, and Reitman their usual fees. The trio agreed to not take salaries and participated in back-end deals instead; as Arnold Schwarzenegger would later say, he was betting on himself.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in Twins

The bet turned out to be a winner, as the $11 million dollar Twins grossed $216 million across the globe. Though Twins received meager reviews from critics and audiences, it seems the star power of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, along with the hilarious, high concept premise that paired them, was enough to get moviegoers out in droves. The success of the Schwarzenegger comedy led to several more for the actor, including reunions with Reitman for Kindergarten Cop and Junior in the early 90s, and even a Christmas film with 1996’s Jingle All the Way.

The massive success of Twins was more than enough to warrant a sequel for the movie, and after years of development, Triplets was announced in 2012. The movie was to feature Eddie Murphy alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, with Ivan Reitman returning to direct. In 2021, the film was announced to be moving forward with Tracy Morgan replacing Murphy, but the project was once again put on ice after the death of Ivan Reitman in February of 2022.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was known for Conan the Barbarian, The Terminator, and Commando before he made Twins. Making the leap from action to comedy with such success was not a common occurrence, but the idea of playing an action star against type for laughs has since become a trope. Though actors like Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel have tried and succeeded, no action star does comedy quite like Scwharzenegger.