Arnold Schwarzenegger holds many titles — Mr. Universe, former governor of California, box office star — and now he can be seen in one of the buzziest Super Bowl commercials come Sunday as he's teamed up with State Farm for a new action "movie."
"I don't like to just do any commercial. The money's great, but I have plenty of money, so I'm not worried about that. It has to be organic," Schwarzenegger tells Yahoo Entertainment.
The 90-second extended commercial, below, is titled "Like A Good Neighbaaa" and pokes fun at Schwarzenegger's accent as he tries unsuccessfully to perfectly deliver the insurance company's tagline. ("Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.") But after more than 50 years in the industry, the Fubar star is in on the joke.
"[The commercial] is funny, but it is also funny for me personally. In the '70s when I got into movies, people said, You will never be a leading man because you have an accent," Schwarzenegger recalls, explaining he was told Americans prefer acton stars to be like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. "Here we are decades later. So many of my movie lines became so popular because of the way I pronounce things. This commercial plays off that, and I laughed my head off when I read it."
A lot of things have changed since Schwarzenegger dominated the action genre years ago. When asked to give a state of the union, of sorts, on today's action stars, Schwarzenegger says he's "very proud."
"What's changed so much is that when I came over to this country, action stars were not known to look like action stars. They were tough guys inevitably, and they acted really well. But today things have really changed," he says.
Schwarzenegger says when he, Sylvester Stallone and Jean-Claude Van Damme took over the genre in the '80s, audiences shifted their expectations of what action stars should look like. He believes that still holds true today.
"This is why you see guys like the Rock, Jason Momoa and Reacher's [Alan Ritchson] — it's enormous the way these guys look now, how big they are and how muscular they are. In my day when I did Conan, they couldn't even find a stunt guy to double me," Schwarzenegger laughs. "Now, this has all changed."
Schwarzenegger says he's "really proud of all the new guys that have become big stars." Not only do they look the part, but "the acting is really great — the way they move within the fight scenes is fantastic." The actor singles out Momoa as someone he'd "love" to work with.
"He's a terrific actor. He is very well liked in the community because he's easy to work with and a very collaborative person," Schwarzenegger continues. "He's one of [the greatest], if not the greatest, action star now. He picks good projects. I would love to work with him. I would love to just meet him one time because we have never met before."
Schwarzenegger's action days aren't behind him, clearly judging from his new Super Bowl spot. "I just loved the idea that they wanted to do a big action movie with explosions and everything," he adds.
As for whether Schwarzenegger feels like he's forced to root for fellow State Farm spokesmen Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce on Sunday, he smiles and says he's never "forced to do anything."
"Being from California, I maybe want to watch [the 49ers] win," he declares.
Watch the Chiefs and 49ers go head to head at the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 11 on CBS/Nickelodeon, or stream it on Paramount+.