Kate Erbland and Film School Rejects present 33 Things We Learned from the Conan the Barbarian Commentary. Here are three of my favorites…
The narration at the beginning of the film was intended to be for Schwarzenegger. Milius points out that certain executives at Universal – he doesn’t name any names – didn’t trust Schwarzenegger, and there were concerns about his accent. “I said, ‘Of course, he has an accent. That’s why he’s Arnold.’,” says the director.
Milius hired actors to play against Schwarzenegger specifically based on their size, as he didn’t want many of Conan’s enemies to be smaller than he was. The director felt it helped build Conan as this iconic hero if he continuously took on and bested men who were much larger. “To have an opponent for Arnold, the guy has to be huge,” says Milius. Even James Earl Jones and Max Von Sydow are taller than the 6’2″ Schwarzenegger.
Executive producer Dino De Laurentiis wanted Milius to take out the scene with Conan, Valeria, and Subotai getting drunk in an inn, because he didn’t think it was dignified enough for the characters, particularly Conan. “The idea is that it’s great. They aren’t dignified. They have money, and they’re totally drunk and excited with power,” explains Milius. De Laurentiis especially didn’t like the shot where Conan passes out in his soup. “It’s like an Alka-Seltzer commercial,” says Schwarzenegger.