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The secret to screenwriting for an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, according to Commando writer Jeph Loeb

Cheesy one-liners don't have to be painful.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando
Image credit: 20th Century Fox

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When it comes to cheesy one-liners, few people have delivered more of them on screen than Arnold Schwarzenegger. And few people wrote better one-liners for Arnie to deliver than Jeph Loeb. Before he was a celebrated comic book writer, Loeb penned the script to Commando, which crammed more snappy one-liners onto our screens than just about any Schwarzenegger film had before – and yet, it is never tiresome or annoying. The movie remains an iconic action film, which had us wondering how Jeph Loeb mastered the art of Arnie dialogue.

We found out while attending Jeph Loeb’s panel at MCM London in May 2024. When asked how he made so many cheesy lines work in the movie, Loeb said, “You have someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger who had an extraordinary sense of humor that no one had ever seen.” Loeb reminded the audience that, up to that point in his career, Arnie “had never been the good guy” before adding, “He’s a very, very funny man. Now we know it… but for years, people thought he was just ‘Arnold’ and made fun of him!”

Loeb then went on to explain the great secret of writing great dialogue for Arnold Schwarzenegger. “He would say, ‘How do you come up with stories for me?’ And I would say, ‘It’s simple. You walk into a room. You shoot into the ceiling. A guy drops out of the ceiling, and you look at him and you go, ‘Thanks for dropping by,’ and that’s how to write for you, Arnold.’”

That might sound like a ridiculous way to structure a scene, but Loeb is clearly onto something because that exact sequence basically plays out in an early scene in Last Action Hero. Years before he did Twins or Kindergarten Cop or Junior, Jeph Loeb recognized the natural comedic timing that Arnold Schwarzenegger possesses and used it to create one of the most fun action films of all time.

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