20 Things You Never Knew About True Lies
Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the biggest movie stars of the 80s and 90s, starring in a string of hugely successful films including Conan the Barbarian, the Terminator movies and lighter films like Twins and Kindergarten Cop.
True Lies saw Schwarzenegger pair up again with Terminator director James Cameron and saw a very different role for the Austrian, as he played a secret agent trying to balance a normal family life at the same time.
True Lies turns 25 this year, so what better time to look back at this classic with some facts you may not have known?
20. Schwarzenegger struggled with the dance scene
As we all know, Schwarzenegger was used to performing big stunts and action sequences, but he wasn’t quite as competent on the dance floor.
The actor revealed that the biggest challenge in True Lies came when he had to dance the tango.
Schwarzenegger took dance lessons in an effort to prepare for the part, and was determined to nail the routine.
In fact, it took over 6 months of practice before he had perfected the dance.
His aim was to be as proficient at the Tango as Al Pacino was in Scent of a Woman.
Thankfully, Arnie didn’t also have to pretend to be blind during his scene!
19. Tom Arnold only auditioned so he could meet Schwarzenegger and James Cameron
Tom Arnold initially thought he had no chance of being cast in the movie.
He only decided to audition so that he could meet Cameron and Schwarzenegger, whom he was a huge fan of.
Arnold performed some scenes for Cameron alongside Schwarzenegger, and the director was immediately impressed.
Producers were at first reluctant to cast Arnold, whose infamous media war with ex-wife Roseanne Barr had led to his less than stellar reputation.
However, Cameron threatened to take the film elsewhere if the actor could not be cast, and the team eventually relented.
18. Arnold’s chemistry with Schwarzenegger won him the role
As we’ve already mentioned, Arnold’s auditions scenes took place opposite Schwarzenegger.
Director Cameron saw real chemistry between the two in the screen tests, and was determined to have the pair work together on the film.
When Arnold heard how Cameron had gone to bat for him, he expressed his gratitude over how he was willing to take a chance on him.
The actor became good friends with both Schwarzenegger and Cameron after the film had wrapped.
I think we can all agree that Cameron made a wise decision, as we can’t imagine True Lies without this leading pair.
17. The US government made money from the movie
When filming the movie, three Marine Harriers were needed, along with their pilots.
The US government commanded a fee of $100,736 for their efforts, working out at about $2,410 per hour!
Hey, nice work if you can get it, we suppose!
The military air crafts featured were in the form of McDonnel Douglas AV-8B Harriers.
These were of the Marine Attack Squadron 223 (VMA-223), which is nicknamed ‘The Bulldogs’.
16. Cameron hired writers specifically for the film’s jokes
Whilst writing the script for the movie, Cameron felt that some humour needed to be injected into the lines.
He decided to hire a team of writers to help him come up with the humour and jokes in the movie.
However, Cameron felt that their humour fell very flat and he was left unsatisfied with their work.
He decided to try his own hand at comedy, and rewrote the script from scratch.
Ultimately, he was left with just two of the original jokes, one of which was Schwarzenegger’s famous ‘you’re fired!’ line.
15. Jamie Lee Curtis called the film “the greatest experience of my professional life”
Jamie Lee Curtis loved her role in True Lies opposite Schwarzenegger, and even described it as “without question, the greatest experience of my professional life so far.”
However, it seems she was not the only cast member to see the movie as a career highlight.
According to Schwarzenegger, he was equally as enamoured, calling it ‘the film I was made for’.
Tia Carrere named this as her favourite role of all time, largely due to the fact that she ‘got to be a villain’.
It’s clear that their genuine passion for the project shines through in their characters, adding a further sense of authenticity to the film.
14. Curtis supplied her own costume for the sensual dance scene
Any woman knows that having the right lingerie is essential to both comfort and performance.
It seems Curtis didn’t have as much faith in the costume department as you might expect.
In the scene in which Curtis does a sensual dance in front of Schwarzenegger, the bra and matching pants set came from an unlikely source.
The underwear actually came from Curtis’ own personal wardrobe at come.
She decided to use them on set instead of risking any costume faux pas.
13. One ‘mistake’ was in the script from the start
Curtis practiced her iconic sensual dance scene with director James Cameron repeatedly, determined to perfect the scene.
It is widely believed that when Curtis falls over during her sensual dance, this was an accident left in the film.
However, it was actually pre-planned between Curtis and Cameron during the rehearsals.
Schwarzenegger was not informed of this slight change of plan beforehand, and his reaction to the fall is completely genuine.
This is apparent when Schwarzenegger’s character, Harry, sits up in alarm, before realising he is breaking character, which he quickly rectifies.
12. Cameron broke Schwarzenegger’s contract when he put Curtis’ name on the poster with his
Schwarzenegger’s contract dictated that the promo for the film would have his name, then the title, then other stars below it.
However, after he finished editing the film, he saw that it was really a ‘domestic epic, a film about marriage’.
Cameron called Schwarzenegger and asked if he was happy to have Curtis’ name alongside his on this occasion, to which he immediately agreed.
According to Curtis, in the world of show business, ‘the credit is a coveted, negotiable commodity’.
She appreciated Schwarzenegger’s gesture, calling it a ‘real mensch move on his part’.
11. Tom Arnold’s wife really did take the ice cube trays
During the film, Gib tells a story of how his wife left him and took everything, even the ice cube trays from the freezer.
Reportedly, this actually happened to Tom Arnold during his separation from Roseanne Barr.
The pair were working through their divorce at the time of filming, and apparently Arnold was not shy of bearing all the grizzly details.
Arnold shared the story with Cameron whilst on set, and the director found the tale hilarious.
Cameron summed up what everyone was thinking when he said ‘what kind of sick b***h takes the ice cube trays out of the freezer?’.
10. There was a dark secret on the set
In 2018, Eliza Dushku, who played Dana Tasker, revealed some disturbing truths about her time working on True Lies.
Dushku was just twelve years old at the time, but her innocence was cruelly snatched away by a member of the crew.
According to the actress, she was assaulted by the film’s stunt director, Joel Kramer.
She detailed how Kramer groomed her for several months prior, gaining the trust of both her and her parents.
After releasing this statement, Dushku was inundated with support from her former co-stars, all of whom tweeted their respect and admiration for her bravery in coming forwards.
9. Eliza Dushku suffered a serious injury on set
After Dushku was assaulted by Kramer, she bravely confided in an adult friend.
This friend then confronted Kramer over the allegations whilst on set.
Shortly after, Dushku was injured during a stunt and broke her ribs, something which she claimed was no accident.
Kramer was responsible for the young actress’ safety on set, rigging up her harnesses and wires in order to suspend her from the top of a 25 story office building.
According to Dushku, her life was quite literally in his hands at the time.
8. It was based on a French film
The idea for True Lies was proposed to director Cameron by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger’s brother in law had shown him the French movie, La Totale!, and this sparked his interest.
Schwarzenegger was fascinated by the film’s concept, and was intrigued by the super secret agent character.
Cameron was surprised by Schwarzenegger’s input, as he had never suggested a film idea based solely on a character idea before.
Cameron loved the idea of a secret agent presented as a family man, and decided to develop the project.
7. The striptease scene was criticised for being misogynistic
The striptease scene is one of the most memorable of the film, yet was accused by some of containing misogynistic content.
Director James Cameron defended the scene, arguing that Jamie Lee Curtis had a heavy input in how the scene was choreographed.
In fact, Curtis was originally meant to perform the striptease completely naked in the darkness, with only her silhouette visible.
Curtis then proposed that she wore underwear and that the room should be completely lit, even demonstrating her idea to Cameron, who actually agreed.
Cameron noted that most criticism came from men, whilst female audiences generally found the scene empowering and somewhat liberating.
6. There was once a sequel in the works
After the success of True Lies, Cameron was keen to develop the story further.
He decided he would make a sequel, which would have reunited the original cast.
A script for the film was written, and it was due to be released in 2002, eight years after the original film’s release.
However, the film was eventually scrapped after problems with the script, as well as the terror of 9/11.
In the words of Cameron himself, ‘in this day and age, terrorism just isn’t funny anymore.’
5. The extras got a pay rise due to the awful conditions on set
During filming the opening sequence, problems soon started to arise. The scene was, of course, set in a mansion, which was unheated at the time.
This was not helped by the freezing temperatures outside, and culminated in some very unpleasant filming conditions.
The women on the set wore nothing but dresses, and the dressing rooms were set up outside in the cold.
Kerosene lamps were used to heat the rooms, but ended in disaster when an extra’s dress caught on fire.
As compensation for their troubles, the extras were paid an extra £50 each.
4. The film’s production did not go to plan
It’s not uncommon for filming to run behind schedule, but True Lies took this to another level.
Tia Carrere’s contract was for just seven weeks, but due to long periods of shooting, this evolved into Carrere receiving seven months of pay.
In fact, the filming went on for so long that Bill Paxton was able to shoot another movie during breaks between filming.
Paxton wasn’t the only one with other commitments, and director Cameron was not in the industry’s good books.
He was frequently contacted by actress Roseanne Barr, who insisted that he allow her soon-to-be ex-husband Tom Arnold to return to the set of Roseanne.
3. There were restrictions on filming
We usually assume that film studios are given pretty much a free licence when it comes to shooting, for the sake of providing quality entertainment.
However, it seems this is not always the case, as director James Cameron would soon find out.
During the horse chase sequence, writers originally wanted Schwarzenegger’s character to chase the suspect through the reflecting pool at the Washington Monument.
However, the National Parks Service put their foot down and refused to allow this.
The horse used in the scene was actually four different horses, all of whom had different skills sets.
2. The part of Helen was written specifically for Jamie Lee Curtis
James Cameron had first met Curtis when she was directed by his ex-wife on the set of Blue Steel, and had wanted to work with her ever since, even ensuring the part of Helen was written to suit her as an actress.
However, Schwarzenegger was not keen on the idea of Curtis playing the role of Helen at first, and expressed his feelings to Cameron via his agent.
Cameron had great respect for his friend, and agreed to audition other actresses to replace Curtis.
After auditioning countless prospective Helens, he soon realised that no one could compare to Curtis.
Cameron asked Schwarzenegger to trust him, and he begrudgingly agreed. Luckily, Curtis soon proved herself to her onscreen husband, and he ended up praising her exceptional performance.
1. Schwarzenegger had a close dice with death on the set
As well all know, filming can be a tricky business, and many actors have quite literally risked their lives for their art.
This is none so more true than when working with live animals, especially horses, who are notoriously unpredictable.
During filming the horse scene, Schwarzenegger’s horse got spooked, and started to buck.
Schwarzenegger managed to slide of the horse just in the nick of time, but this was unfortunately right next to a 30-foot drop.
Luckily for him, his personal stuntman saw the events play out, and managed to grab him and pull him to safety.