Let’s get real: When True Lies came out in 1994, did you really think its two stars would still be acting 28 years later?
Neither did we.
But life is full of surprises, and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis are alive and, from all indications, doing just fine.
That means they’ve had almost three decades to process playing husband and wife in True Lies, one of the stranger blockbusters of the 1990s.
True Lies: The Origin Story
James Cameron left an indelible mark on the ‘80s and ‘90s thanks to a wide range of films he directed. Among the stand-outs are action-packed sci-fi films including Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), The Abyss (1989), and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).
Oh, and he directed a little romance movie called Titanic (1997) too.
James Cameron has — or at least had — a massive ego, possibly thanks to the runaway success of the aforementioned movies. Cameron’s self-centered personality came into full view after he declared, “I’m the king of the world!” remark after Titanic won the Oscar for best picture. (To Cameron’s credit, he later admitted he went too far with his self-congratulatory remarks, according to RepublicWorld.com.)
Perhaps Cameron’s confidence led him to helm another 1990s movie that led him to try his hand at a completely different type of movie. The movie industry alternately tagged True Lies as an action, spy thriller, and/or comedy film.
Cameron’s massive box-office successes gave him free rein over the True Lies budget. It amounted to at least $100 million — the first movie ever bankrolled for that figure.
Production Woes — and a Notorious Striptease
The movie’s perplexing cast mirrored its odd genre-crossing of genres. In addition to Schwarzenegger and Curtis, True Lies also featured a handful of WTF?s: Tom Arnold, Tia Carrere, and Charton Heston, to name a few.
Also inevitable was a series of problems that marred the production of True Lies. Schwarzenegger revealed some of them in an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit in January 2014. The incidents included a camera boom hitting a horse while Schwarzenegger sat on horseback.
Most notable of all, actor Eliza Dushku — who was a mere 12 years old during the shooting of True Lies — accused the production’s stunt coordinator of molesting her, according to an August 2018 report by CinemaAudioSociety.com.
While the stunt coordinator denied the accusations — and refuted the notion that he let Dushku broke ribs during a stunt. Schwarzenegger, Curtis, Arnold, and Cameron all believed Dushku’s claim.
The controversies surrounding True Lies didn’t stop there. After the movie hit theaters, audiences cringed at the notorious scene in which Curtis’ stripteases for Schwarzenegger’s character, not knowing it was him.
Curtis addresses the scene in June 2021, according to MovieWeb.com.
“The thing that nobody knows: There was no rehearsal, there is no choreographer,” she recalled. “[Cameron] said to me, ‘What do you want to dance to?’ … We were doing it over and over and over, and it got quieter and quieter.”
The Legacy of True Lies
Despite all the controversies and weirdness, though, True Lies did just fine at the box office.
The blockbuster recouped its massive expenses by making $378.9 million in theaters. That made it the third-highest-grossing film of 1994, the same year Forrest Gump hit theaters.
But True Lies divided critics — even if the movie still holds a 70 percent approval rating on RottenTomatoes.com.