Kevin Nealon Explains How Schwarzenegger Killed the ‘Hans and Franz’ Movie Musical
For the record, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a monster fan of Saturday Night Live’s Hans and Franz, the cable-access, wannabe bodybuilder icons. The Austrian strongman was the direct inspiration for the characters, created by Kevin Nealon while channel-surfing in his hotel room one night. Nealon landed on a Schwarzenegger interview about his oversized exercise routine, and the pumped-up characters were born. Arnold even cameoed in the series of SNL sketches — twice.
Schwarzenegger was such a big fan, in fact, that he wanted to co-produce a Hans and Franz movie, Nealon recently told Entertainment Weekly. With the comedy-writing heavyweights behind the proposed movie, no wonder — Nealon developed the screenplay with the aid of Dana Carvey, Robert Smigel and Conan O’Brien. But with Conan pulling double-duty on The Simpsons and Carvey on another project, the heavy lifting was left to “me and Smigel a lot of the time,” Nealon says. “It was my laptop — Smigel would want to be the writer, and I would throw ideas around with him. I remember he would always be eating greasy chicken and he liked to touch the screen of the computer. I’d see these streaks of chicken grease all over my screen.”
The movie, at different times titled Hans and Franz: The Girlyman Dilemma and Hans and Franz Go to Hollywood, also would have been a musical. The two weightlifters would live in the fictional Little Austria section of New York City with lush, Sound of Music-style rolling hills somehow nestled between subway stops, revealed Smigel on a taped Conan segment in 2015. One song would have been a parody of West Side Story’s “Cool,” with Schwarzenegger’s pectoral muscles flexing to the beat.
Schwarzenegger was set to play himself and, in his own Madea moment, Hans and Franz’s outrageously muscled grandmother. The pieces were in place for the SNL sketch characters to pummel their way to the big screen until disaster happened — in the form of 1993’s The Last Action Hero. That film was Schwarzenegger’s first attempt to parody his overly serious film persona, and it was expected to be huge at the box office (as evidenced by the boatloads of Last Action Hero toys available on the cheap on eBay). When it tanked, Nealon says, Ah-nuld “opted not to do this one.”
It’s a shame we never got to see the movie’s steroid-fueled jokes — but in a way, we did. According to Smigel, some of the sight gags in an Aaron Rodgers State Farm commercial (for example, Hans and Franz waterskiing behind a superhuman Rodgers, swimming in for Arnold) were borrowed from the abandoned screenplay.
Er… After doing a discount double-check, maybe it’s not such a bad thing that the movie didn’t get made after all.