Arnold Schwarzenegger Says Hans & Franz Legitimized His Accent
When bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegger first started seriously pursuing a career in Hollywood, he was told, “No one in America has ever made it that had an accent.” Then, his cousins told the girly men, “We are going to pump *clap* you up!”
Of all the unmistakable celebrity accents in entertainment history, none have been more imitated than that of The Governator — and, of all the Arnold imitations that have been swirling around open-mics and parody shows since Mr. Olympia put himself on the map, none are more recognizable than the pair of iron-pumping not-so-strong-men that Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon brought to life on Saturday Night Live in 1987. In the iconic sketch “Pumpin' Up with Hans & Franz,” Carvey and Nealon managed to make the most fun out of Arnold’s Austrian elocution without turning it into an insulting caricature of a foreigner. And, for that, Arnie decided that he’d be back — to give them a thank you note.
Schwarzenegger appeared on the most recent episode of Carvey’s Fly on the Wall Podcast, co-hosted by David Spade, in which he discussed how the impression affected his accent’s reception in American media, telling Carvey, “(Hans & Franz) legitimized it because now there was someone that actually took that subject of (the) accent and had a good time with it, not to make fun of it, but to actually entertain people with it and to do it overboard.”
“I realized that I had to kind of make the accent, actually, something not to hide it but to make something off it,” Schwarzenegger said of his self-consciousness regarding his speech during a hyper-exposed moment of his career during the late 1980s. Schwarzenegger said that the Hans & Franz sketch came “out of nowhere” to solve that problem for him without requiring any heavy-lifting of his own.
“All of the sudden, from that point on, (the accent) became much more accepted and really became much easier for me,” Schwarzenegger said, explaining that the impression gave him an excuse to show his light-hearted side and start to branch out into less self-serious roles. “I always had a good sense of humor and always was the first one to be able to make fun of myself,” Schwarzenegger told Carvey. Just the next year, Schwarzenegger appeared in his first official comedy, Twins, co-starring Danny DeVito, which set up a decade of humorous hits for the Austrian Oak.
If any other accented, muscly celebrities are interested in a similar comedy career arc, Hans & Franz could probably hook them up with the perfect instructional video to show them how it’s done.