HOLLYWOOD -- Arnold Schwarzenegger is looming, threatening Steven Spielberg's 'Jurassic Park' at the top of the box-office charts.
Schwarzenegger, whose pictures consistently make more money than his competition, opens nationwide this week in 'The Last Action Hero.'
The weekend provides an interesting clash between two movie titans, Schwarzenegger and producer-director Spielberg.
The star of 'Terminator 2' vs. the maker of 'E.T.' is a box- office joust that fascinates Hollywood.
Schwarzenegger faces a real challenge in 'Jurassic Park,' which broke the record for opening three-day weekend receipts with a tidy $47 million.
It's not a fair fight -- Arnie is up against an island full of dinosaurs.
Nonetheless, Schwarzenegger puffed contentedly on a cigar earlier this week and said, 'This is the best picture I've ever made.'
It also is among the most violent with car chases, fights, gunfire and an impressive body count. But it is comic book stuff, a parody of action movies that pokes fun of film violence and screen heroes.
Foremost among the spoofed is Schwarzenegger himself, looking as if he is having the time of his life.
'I was,' he said, flashing a broad, white grin.
'As one of the producers I was in on the script from the very beginning. It was wonderful making decisions about the story and the director (John McTiernan). The studio (Columbia) told me I would be totally responsible for the picture.'
He said in one scene, the on-screen Schwarzenegger attends a premiere with his wife. McTiernan intended to hire an actress but Schwarzenegger -- the real one -- said he would persuade his wife, newscaster Maria Shriver, to do the role.
'She is a serious journalist and would never do it if not approached correctly. So I changed the script to have her give me a hard time because action heroes never have trouble with their wives or anyone else.
'In the film she tells me how to behave, which she does in real life before a premiere. It makes a very funny scene.
'It was strange to play totally different characters, Jack Slater -- the action hero -- and Schwarzenegger, the actor who plays him. Schwarzenegger is real, Slater is the fictional hero of action films.
'In one scene we see Schwarzenegger and Slater together. It was very difficult, using remote control cameras and a computer. Seeing two of myself talking to each other on the screen was weird. Totally insane.
'It was interesting playing the action star, a character who is not allowed to think or feel or talk very much. He can't be vulnerable. There are many subtle things in the film.
'I played Slater entering the real world and discovering he isn't a genuine hero at all. When he smashes a car window with his fist, it hurts. He can get killed, which is never a possibility with action heroes.
'That's why violence in this picture is a good thing. It demonstrates the difference between movie violence and reality. It tells kids movie heroics are make-believe and cannot be translated into reality.
'The lesson is clear: In the real world violence is bad. Our picture is anti-violence. We went over the top with everything.'
'The Last Action Hero' intersperses astonishing special effects and action with jokes, sight gags and wildly improbable dialogue.
Numbskull Slater, for instance, sees F. Murray Abraham (playing an FBI agent) and associates him with his Oscar-winning role as Salieri, the Italian composer who drove Mozart to his death in 'Amadeus.'
Says Slater, 'Isn't he the guy who killed Moe Zart?'
There are quick cameos of Sharon Stone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Little Richard and Chevy Chase, all totally out of the story's context.
Schwarzenegger risked his own invaluable neck in several frightening stunts, not out of bravado, he says, but because kids are so sophisticated these days they can spot stunt doubles a mile away.
'You have to keep the camera up close so your face can be seen,' he said. 'I had to jump off a hotel roof with a cable descender that slowed me down only 6 feet before hitting the top of an outdoor elevator. It was the scariest moment of the picture for me.
'There are risks you have to take. I was fortunate because I spent a month practicing dangerous high falls from 100 feet up. It was scary doing some of the freeway chase scenes too.
'Stunts become more and more dangerous because of sequels. Audiences expect you to out-do yourself every time. If I don't surpass what I've done before, people leave theaters disappointed.'
Swarzenegger's most dangerous stunt was playing a hero with feet of clay.
'The studio wasn't sure I should spoof myself, daring to show action heroes as just vunerable guys,' he said. 'I told them it would work because I am an action star with a sense of humor about myself. I'm not so sure it would work with another actor.
'But it was tailored for me and it works 100 percent.'NEWLN: