Who's a better actor, Arnold or Sylvester? Lisa Schwarzbaum answers this and other reader queries

By Lisa Schwarzbaum
September 17, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
Commando: © & TM 20th Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy Everett Collection; RAMBO: Everett Collection

Who’s a better actor, Arnold or Sylvester?

My coworkers have a long-running debate going as to who the better actor is: Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone. No one is claiming that either is a good actor — the debate is, who’s better? Can you help settle this? — Roger Taranto

Sure, I can. But first may I say how encouraged I am by the rigorous standard of debate that flourishes at your workplace! So many performance-related questions we get here at Ask the Critic are so, oh, you know, whatever: Who’s the worst actor in a great movie, who’s the best actor in a piece of junk — stuff like that. But you and your colleagues aren’t afraid to name names out of ”I Love the ’80s,” are you?

The answer, of course, is Schwarzenegger, who has always displayed a certain disarming circus-act gusto (lacking in Stallone, a humorless Oscar nominee) for the work he does, whether it’s pumping iron or pumping the hands of voters. The suggestion of amusement at his own improbability is as much a thespian skill as it is a political asset.

(Got a movie-related question for Lisa or Owen? Post it here.)