For our special Arnold Schwarzenegger issue, back in 2012, we asked six iconic action heroes what Arnie meant to them. Here's what they said...
Jean-Claude Van Damme
“I love Conan. Because Conan is part of his culture, in the sense he’s got the long hair, the weightlifting, the barbarian thing. Conan is very Arnold. And then of course there’s Terminator, and that’s cool, but James Cameron did have a lot more to do with it. Conan was more… boom. The most Arnold.”
He’s an incredible man, a true one-of-a-kind.
“Arnold and I have been friends now for 45 years. He used to come down to my karate school and he would sit down and shoot the breeze and say, ‘What are your future goals?’ and I would say, ‘I want to teach for the rest of my life.’ And he said, ‘Not me, bodybuilding’s an instrument for me, I’m going to become a real-estate mogul and I’m going to become a movie star.’ Now, this was 1967, so I was thinking, ‘A movie star? You can hardly speak English!’ But once Arnold sets his mind to something, he’s gonna achieve it.”
“I’m someone who doesn’t just act in films but actually watches the fucking things and likes them, and I grew up watching Arnie. I grew up on Commando and Red Heat. Predator still stands up as a brilliant film, and I loved Total Recall. Nobody does one-liners like Arnie.”
“I know him, we film together for charity. And every time he’s in Beijing [I tell him to] give me a call. We’re old friends. I’m glad he’s no longer Governor as now we can get close. I want to make a movie with Arnold and Stallone. Just the three of us.”
“I first met Arnold on the set of Conan The Destroyer. I was then training with Sly for Rocky IV. I was trying to get some sleep one night as Grace [Jones, his live-in girlfriend at the time] was having one of her late-night parties. Then somebody knocked on the door at midnight. I was like, ‘Who the fuck is that, I’m trying to get some sleep.’ So then I hear this voice: ‘It’s your trainer. Im here to check your abs.’”
“I can remember him at the  Golden Globes. I was like, ‘Who is this guy? He’s as big as the whole table. Kind of raining on my parade!’ They announce, ‘Best Newcomer Arnold Schwarzenegger,’ and I’m like, ‘C’mon! He’s a joke – no-one has a name like that. This guy is doomed. Over!’ Then Rocky wins for Best Picture and I jump up like an idiot and – I’ll never forget it, there was a bowl of flowers – I said, ‘I have to do something; get a reaction out of this guy,’ and I throw the flowers up in the air and they land on his shoulders and on his lap and on the table and he just goes, ‘Oh, am I gonna cross-pollinate this guy one day.’ That’s how we met… He’s an incredible man, a true one-of-a-kind.”
A version of this article first appeared in Empire magazine, issue 281 (November 2012).