ARNOLD Schwarzenegger has more or less got it made. At the moment, he is enjoying the perquisites of super stardom, so if you ask him what he hopes "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" will do for him, he says he isn't that concerned about it. He wants it to be a hit, of course, but he doesn't expect to send his career in any particular direction. Straight ahead is good enough.
"I'm not concerned about what it will do for me," he said. "I don't have to be as concerned about stepping stones as I was in 1984 when the first 'Terminator' appeared. Before I did the first one, I was just a body doing movies like 'Conan.' It was important, then, to have successful films that had nothing to do with the body. 'Terminator' led to scripts that were in the action genre.
" 'Twins' was another stepping stone. It did things for me in the area of comedy. 'Terminator 2' will just show that I am involved in quality films, films with good scripts and directors."
He said he feels no particular pressure, now that he has made several successful films. "So long as you'll do well," he said. "Successful films create power in the community. It allows you to choose. That's the really big advantage."
There has been a lot of publicity about the cost of "Terminator 2," the figure ranging from $85 million to $110 million. Schwarzenegger admits to $80 million, which would make it the most expensive film in the history of movie making in this country.
"I believe that the reason people write those things is because there is a tremendous interest in money," he said. "The press writes what people want to read, and by the time it gets into print, is exaggerated. The film never cost more than $80 million, but it didn't bother me that much larger sums were reported.
"In past years, the studios hyped the costs of the films, but today, they are reluctant to talk about them because big budgets make us look as though we are not careful with money. The studios are also worried about their stockholders."
Schwarzenegger says that "Terminator 2" was not "a forced sequel."
"It came about by popular demand. The first film was tremendously popular on cable and as a cassette, so we finally said, 'let's do it.' "
He played a bad cyborg in the first film. In the sequel, he is a good cyborg and Robert Patrick is the bad one who wants to kill the boy who will some day lead earthlings in their battle against alien machine armies.
Schwarzenegger likes playing the good guy. "I would have requested it, but when the director, Jim Cameron, gave me the script, it was written that way already. I asked him how come, and he said that he just wrote it that way, that it had something to do with the way people see me. It was Cameron's idea to make me a good guy."
Would he play a bad guy again? "Well, the test is the audience," he said. "I've got to convince them. People see me in both kinds of roles, but they like the humor that is part of my characterizations. They get off on that."
Schwarzenegger, because of his work as an ambassador of health on behalf of the Bush administration, has been criticized for doing violent films, hardly an inspiration to young children.
"There is no way to please everybody," he said. "It's like being a politician. The important thing is to appeal to the majority, and if my films are not for children, well, we have a rating board. The rest is up to parents."
It has been rumored, lately, that he will run for public office.
"That is a totally inaccurate report," he said. "My message is not political, it is fitness. I'm going to be so busy in the next 10 years, I won't even be thinking about politics."
He admits to having strong, conservative political views, "but that's what this country is all about. The very strong American utilizes these rights."
One of the things he tells his young audiences is that he wants to create a drug-free society, and when someone reminds him that he took steroids when he was younger, he freely admits that he did.
"But that was 20 years ago when we didn't know that much about them," he said. "I tell the kids to stay away from drugs and cigarettes. If they do, they will feel good about themselves."
He would like to direct some day. "But there are other things I haven't done, a great love story or a great western," he said.
He hasn't done a musical either, but there is little chance that he will. "If I sing on the screen, it will be for comic relief," he said.
How about those stories about a film starring him with Sylvester Stallone?
"They've been talking about pairing us for three years," he said. "They've been trying to create a rivalry between us, but we get along very well."
"Terminator 2: Judgment Day" opens here tomorrow. Linda Hamilton, who appeared in the first film, reappears in the second.