I stumbled upon a surprising interview of Arnold Schwarzenegger on 90 Minutes Live in the CBC digital archives today. In the interview, host Peter Gzowski asks a few questions which elicit very unexpected responses from the soon-to-be superstar. Granted, the Schwarzenegger in the video (embedded below) was one which I had never known; one which hadn't yet become the Hollywood beacon of ultra-masculinity; whose persona hadn't yet been fixed by the numerous blockbuster feature films. But what is really worth noting is the drastic difference in atmosphere on the show in comparison with a talk show today.
The interview was aired in 1978, a time when Arnold was known principally for his body building success. The documentary, Pumping Iron, had been released the previous year which greatly boosted Schwarzenegger's popularity and his appearance on 90 Minutes Live had a clear tie-in with the publication of Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder, his autobiography. Gzowski had a few more or less hard-hitting questions for Schwarzenegger which he tackled well enough. Sadly, near the end of the interview the question on Homosexuality results in crack which leads to the type of discussion you'd hear on Conan today.
The most telling moment for me was the question of ego (beginning at 9:00). Schwarzenegger says that without a healthy ego he wouldn't have been able to earn the achievements he had. "I think ego is the thing that makes us do certain things, and if we destroy the ego we end up as vegetables, you know, sitting in India somewhere in the Mountains praying," Schwarzenegger said leading to a few moans from the audience. "Alot of people think that's pretty good," Gzowski replies. "That's right," says Schwarzenegger, "I've been brought up in a Western philosophy... going after a goal, achieving [it], money, the drive, and that's what I like..." Not the most well-articulated statement, I concede, but would you ever hear a line like that on that sort of television today?
This is, no doubt, the best interview I've ever seen with The Terminator. The pacing, the quality of the questions despite the nature of the subject, and their answers speaks to the preparation of both Gzowski and Schwarzenegger, as well as the dual role the program provided of informing its audience and entertaining it. If this is the quality we can get from a body builder on a talk show, why have we accepted the new model?