Who remembers Twins? Released in 1988, it stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as the extremely unlikely titular twins who were separated at birth. One of Schwarzenegger’s first comedy outings, it’s a classic odd couple flick about a streetwise grifter and an erudite wallflower.
While the film received mixed-to-negative reviews at the time of its release, the undeniable talent of the film’s two leads has made it something of a cult classic. Join us as we swerve the gene pool and dive headfirst into the fact pool with these behind-the-scenes gems about Twins.
20. DeVito’s initial contract was written on a napkin
Due to being on a tight deadline with the movie, Universal wanted to get quick commitments from Schwarzenegger and DeVito, as well as director Ivan Reitman. Because of this, there was essentially no time to draw up a lengthy and convoluted contract, so the initial, simple deal was made with their agents on a napkin over lunch.
Speaking about the signing on the Nerdist Podcast back in 2014, Schwarzenegger said: “[Reitman] went to hype it to Universal Studios, the idea with the napkin that says, ‘I have the agreement from Arnold and Danny and I have mine. I signed right here that I’m gonna direct it.'” DeVito has since had the famous napkin framed.
19. DeVito signed up just to star alongside Schwarzenegger
Danny DeVito has revealed that he signed up to the movie as soon as he found out that he would be cast alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger. Speaking to the Academy of American Television, DeVito asked if the other twin had been cast yet. When he was told it was Schwarzenegger, he said: “the Austrian bodybuilder? I’m signing.”
He continued: “Nobody will believe I am the twin brother to Arnold Schwarzenegger!” Indeed, much of the film’s comedy hinges on the physical disparity between the two. It looks as though the movie’s upcoming sequel, Triplets, is set to make the same joke, with Tracy Morgan set to feature as DeVito and Schwarzenegger’s long lost brother.
18. Clint Eastwood visited the set and loved Arnie’s performance
Actor-director legend Clint Eastwood, apparently with nothing better to do, reportedly visited the set of Twins just in time to see Schwarzenegger sing on the plane. He was so impressed with Arnie’s comedy chops that he remarked, a little back-handedly, “I didn’t realize you had such talent!” Indeed, after the film became a big success, Schwarzenegger continued his shift from action blockbusters to fish-out-of-water comedies.
After the success of Twins, Schwarzenegger went on to star in comedy Kindergarten Cop in 1990, Junior in 1994, and Christmas film Jingle All the Way in 1996. More recently, however, he’s pivoted back to more action-based films. His most recent film appearance was in Terminator: Dark Fate in 2019, where he reprised his role as a Terminator.
17. Schwarzenegger trained with comedy legend Milton Berle to prepare for the film
Despite what we know now about Schwarzenegger’s impeccable comedy timing, it’s hard to deny that the former bodybuilder is an unlikely star of the silly screen. As a result, for his first bona fide comedy feature, Arnie was given some comedy masterclasses by Hollywood legend Milton Berle. This was confirmed by DeVito in an appearance on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show.
Berle was a star of radio, film and television during Hollywood’s Golden Age, and starred in more than 50 comedy movies, perfect to put Arnie’s through his punchline paces. Arnie even met up with Berle on his 40th birthday, with Berle gifting him a box of Hoyo de Monterrey Double Coronas cigarettes to mark the occasion.
16. It reunited real-life twins with their father
Unbelievably, Twins was instrumental in reuniting real-life twins with their father. In the scene set in downtown Santa Fe, the twins’ father was spotted starring as an extra. With some research, and no doubt some help given the sensational circumstances, the family was reunited and the twins were able to reconnect with their long-lost father.
Twins reuniting always makes a compelling story – it’s a plot at the centre of many of Shakespeare’s plays, including Twelfth Night and The Comedy of Errors. But real-life family reunions are even more heart-warming, and it’s astounding to think that the Twins film helped bring a father and his children back together again.
15. It landed Schwarzenegger and DeVito the biggest paydays of their careers to date
Despite the lukewarm critical response it received, Twins was a big commercial success, grossing over $216 million worldwide and rising to the top of the box office in the UK. Instead of taking a flat fee for the film, Schwarzenegger and DeVito both agreed to be paid 20% of the film’s box office returns, resulting in them receiving the biggest paychecks of their entire careers.
“Literally for ‘Twins’ I took no salary — I just wanted to give it a shot,” Schwarzenegger explained to Insider in 2019. “And it just happened to be my first movie to make $100 million domestic.” Schwarzenegger ended up earning $35,000,000 for the film through international sales, video and DVD sales, and TV screenings. He ultimately earned more money from Twins than he made from any of the Terminator movies.
14. It was the first of three Ivan Reitman films to star Schwarzenegger
After Twins, Ivan Reitman teamed up with Arnold Schwarzenegger for two more films. The first was Kindergarten Cop, released in 1990, which saw Arnie star as a police officer undercover as a kindergarten teacher. The second film was Junior, released in 1994, which also reunited Schwarzenegger with Danny DeVito and featured some wacky anatomical comedy.
It looks like Schwarzenegger and Reitman are set to team up again in the not-so-distant future. It’s been over three decades since Twins was released, but Reitman, Schwarzenegger, and Danny DeVito are currently working on producing a sequel (titled Triplets) which will see Tracy Morgan star as a third, long-lost sibling.
13. A sequel called ‘Triplets’ is in development, with Tracy Morgan as the third sibling
A Twins sequel has been rumoured for quite some time now and was put on hold in 2015, but Schwarzenegger has confirmed that a script is now complete. The sequel will be called Triplets and will reunite Schwarzenegger and DeVito. Initially, Eddie Murphy was rumoured to have been cast as their long-lost brother, but recently it’s been confirmed that Tracy Morgan will play the part instead.
“We started a script with Eddie, and after the success he had with Amazon Prime on Coming 2 America, he got himself booked up heavily. And we knew we were going to make it at the beginning of next year,” Reitman told Deadline in 2021. “I’d been good friends with Tracy Morgan for a long time and always thought he was one of the funniest men in the world. I thought he would make a terrific triplet, and we rewrote the whole script for him.”
- Credit: Alex Erde via Flickr
12. Arnie performed his own stunts
Arnold Schwarzenegger has done own stunts for the majority of his acting career, and Twins is no exception. Given his position as a former bodybuilder, Arnie has always been well-prepared to tackle even the most dangerous stunts during his acting career. Most recently, Schwarzenegger did his own stunts in the 2014 film Sabotage at the age of 66.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s double still did make an appearance in the film – just not in the way you might expect. Peter Kent, Arnie’s double, played a memorable role in the film as the guy Julius Benedict initially thinks is his twin brother. Hilariously, despite the physical similarities between Kent and Schwarzenegger, it is DeVito’s character who ends up being Schwarzengger’s twin.
11. Schwarzenegger, DeVito, and Reitman weren’t confident that the film would be a hit
Twins turned out to be a huge hit. Commercially, it brought in $216.6 million at the box office after being made on a budget of just $18 million. While critics were ambivalent about the film, it’s fair to say that the fans loved it. Schwarzenegger and DeVito certainly loved it, given their keenness to make a sequel to the film.
But Schwarzenegger, DeVito and director Ivan Reitman weren’t so confident that the film would be a hit before the film was released. Schwarzenegger wrote in his autobiography: “In theory, the studios would love the idea: you just had to picture me and Danny DeVito next to each other on a movie poster. But in reality, what we were proposing was an offbeat picture by three expensive guys.” However, the dailies began screening, they knew the film would be a success because the people lucky enough to be in the dailies screening room were in stitches laughing at the day’s takes.
10. Reitman’s children make a cameo
Director Ivan Reitman may have been busy directing Twins, but he still managed to spend time with his own family while working on the film – largely because his children were in it! You can spot Jason Reitman and Catherine Reitman in the scene where Julius goes to his mother’s old house and meets up with Granger. The Reitman children play Granger’s grandchildren.
Both children went on to have careers in the film industry. Catherine went on to play recurring character Maureen Ponderosa on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – which saw her reunite with Twins star Danny DeVito – while Jason ultimately became a successful filmmaker with two Best Director Oscar nominations under his belt.
9. It could have starred Hulk Hogan and Christopher Lloyd
It’s a common argument nowadays that Hollywood movies are interchangeable, with a half dozen superhero flicks populating cineplexes at any given time alongside the latest bawdy comedy from Adam Sandler or Jason Bateman or some other brown-haired man. However, early 90s cinema wasn’t all that different to today’s samey films.
In fact, it’s been confirmed by all stars involved that Schwarzenegger and DeVito had the choice of starring in either Twins or Suburban Commando (then titled Urban Commando), a sci-fi comedy about an intergalactic warrior who spices up a family. That film ultimately cast wrestler Hulk Hogan and non-wrestler Christopher Lloyd in the lead roles, but – had Schwarzenegger and DeVito chosen differently – Hogan and Lloyd would have starred in Twins instead!
8. Two Game of Thrones stars are keen to do a remake
While the Triplets sequel has now been confirmed to be underway, there could be yet more Twins content on the horizon. Game of Thrones star Jason Momoa revealed in an interview during Celebrity Fan Fest in San Antonio, Texas in July 2019 that he loves the film and would absolutely love to star in a remake of the movie.
He went on to say that he’d be keen to make the remake alongside his Game of Thrones co-star, Peter Dinklage, who plays the dwarf Tyrion Lannister in the series. “F***** tell me where to sign!” Momoa exclaimed during the panel discussion when asked about starring in a remake of the 1988 film. “Absolutely. That’d be amazing. I love that movie.”
7. There are some hidden Terminator references
While today, Schwarzenegger is probably equally famous for his roles in action films and comedy films, back in 1988 he was mainly known for his roles in the Terminator films. And if you listen closely in Twins, you’ll actually be able to hear some very subtle references to Schwarzenegger’s involvement in the Terminator franchise.
The film makes two references to the 1984 film The Terminator. The first is when Julius says “I’ll be back!” while threatening Traven – famously, Arnold’s Terminator character’s catchphrase is “I’ll be back!”. Another more subtle reference is in Julius and Vincent’s costumes: both wear matching sunglasses which are similar to the sunglasses Arnie wears in The Terminator.
6. It wasn’t actually Schwarzenegger’s comedy debut
Contrary to popular belief, the film wasn’t actually Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comedy debut. It was certainly his most popular comedy film at the time and helped cement his reputation as a bankable comedy actor, but it was not the first time Arnie swapped action-packed blockbusters for something more lighthearted.
Arnold’s first comedic role was actually in Hercules in New York, released in 1970, where he played the eponymous Hercules. He also starred in Happy Anniversary and Goodbye in 1974, Scavenger Hunt in 1979, and the Villain in 1979. However, Twins was undoubtedly his first successful comedy role and demonstrated plainly that Arnie was good for more than just action films.
5. Heather Graham had an uncredited cameo as young Mary Ann Benedict
By now, American actress Heather Graham has appeared in a number of big films. Her breakthrough came in 1988 when she starred in teen comedy License to Drive, and since then she’s gone on to feature in other critically acclaimed movies such as Drugstore Cowboy and Six Degrees of Separation. But did you know that she also had a small role in Twins?
In 1988 Graham was on the verge of hitting the big time, but filmmakers neglected to credit her on the Twins cast list. Graham made a small cameo in the movie as a young Mary Ann Benedict, the twins’ mother. Despite Graham’s role going uncredited in Twins, she had starred in License to Drive earlier 1988 – a role which catapulted her to stardom.
4. The island Arnold Schwarzenegger mentions is sort of real
Throughout the movie, we hear Julius tell everybody that he’s originally from a remote island in the South Pacific, about 300 miles south south west of the Fiji Islands. Although the island Julius is talking about is technically fictional, there is actually an island in the Pacific Ocean which matches Julius’ description.
There is a very small island to the south west of Fiji which is known locally as Ceva-I-Ra, which translates as Conway Reef. It is a coral reef of the atoll type, just under 2 miles long. There is a small sand cay in the middle of the reef and a land area of around two hectares. The island is uninhabited by humans – so it’s unlikely Julius is really talking about this island!
3. Danny DeVito pranked Arnold Schwarzenegger on set
Danny DeVito isn’t just a funny guy on screen – he’s also a prankster in reality. In his autobiography, Arnie explained a hilarious prank DeVito pulled on him one day: “He’d always make me the most delicious pasta at lunch and we’d eat and schmooze and have a cigar before we went back to work. One day, he packed my cigar with marijuana without telling me.”
“I’m a fanatic about memorising my lines so I never touch the script once I arrive on a set, but when we got back after lunch, Danny said his line and I just stood there,” he said. “Ivan Reitman reminded me of my line and asked the script supervisor to show me the script, and it was like I was seeing something for the first time. My brain had completely forgotten the scene I had no trouble with before lunch. Danny was laughing up a storm.”
2. Schwarzenegger has still not got his revenge
Arnie wanted to get revenge for DeVito’s prank on him – and he nearly pulled it off on one occasion. In his monthly newsletter, he recently revealed that he had tried to gift DeVito a cigar packed with marijuana – just like DeVito did to him on the set of Twins all those years ago. Unfortunately for Schwarzenegger, DeVito sniffed out his plan.
“He still has the nose of a bloodhound, and sniffed out the special ingredient right away,” Schwarzenegger wrote in the newsletter. In a video documenting the failed prank, Danny sniffs the cigar before saying: “Oh man, that smells good. That’s a good cigar. We’ll save that one.” It looks like Arnie will have to think outside the box if he wants to get his revenge on DeVito!
1. DeVito tried to talk Schwarzenegger out of running for Governor of California so they could make Twins 2
Production of the Twins sequel – Twins 2, or Triplets – has been delayed for years now. Part of the delay is largely down to the fact that Arnie acted as Governor of California between 2003 and 2011. In an interview with the Guardian, DeVito revealed that he actually tried to talk Schwarzenegger out of running so that they could make the Twins sequel instead.
“I was like, ‘Governor of California, here,'” he said, hovering his left hand just above the floor. “‘Twins 2, here!'” He continued, raising his hand above his head. It’s now been over 10 years since Schwarzenegger served as governor, and it looks as though the production of Triplets is finally getting underway as Arnie has more time on his hands.