HomeAmerican EntertainmentArnold Schwarzenegger’s ‘True Lies’ Co-Star Improvised One Moment from Classic

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ‘True Lies’ Co-Star Improvised One Moment from Classic

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by Ronald Siemoneit/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)

The 1994 action-comedy True Lies is full of iconic moments. But Jamie Lee Curtis, who stars as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wife in the film, says she improvised the most memorable one.

In True Lies, Schwarzenegger plays Harry Tasker, a seemingly boring computer salesman who’s actually a secret agent working for the U.S. government. But wife his wife Helen (Curtis) and their daughter have no idea. After Harry finds out his wife is considering having an affair to break the boredom in her life, he uses his government resources to send her on a “mission.” She must seduce a man (Harry in disguise) and plant a listening device in his hotel room. To accomplish the first part, she performs an impromptu striptease, using his bedpost as a pole.

That scene was in the script, but they never practiced it. Curtis came up with the dance on the fly.

“There was no rehearsal. There is no choreographer,” she told “People in the 90’s” podcast. “(Director James Cameron) said to me, ‘What do you want to dance to?’ It was when John Hiatt’s Bring the Family album was out, and I said, ‘There’s a song called ‘Alone in the Dark’ that has this really funky rhythm.’ And I said, ‘I really like that song, and that’s what they played.”

Jamie Lee Curtis was so good at it, Cameron suggested adding a comedy beat to the scene to undercut it. The director asked if she would slip while swinging around the pole and hit the floor.

“It’s because Jim knew that the dance was too sexy, it was too real, she said. “… He knew he needed to break the spell of what the husband had put his wife through. I think we did two takes where I let go of the pole.”

Jamie Lee Curtis: Schwarzenegger Didn’t Want Me in ‘True Lies’

The movie became a massive hit, and that scene immortalized Jamie Lee Curtis to millions of teenage boys. But if it was up to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Curtis wouldn’t have been in True Lies at all.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was good friends with Jamie Lee Curtis’ dad, Hollywood legend Tony Curtis. He thought having Tony’s “little girl” as his love interest would be too uncomfortable, she said.

“Arnold knew me as Tony’s daughter,” Curtis told Yahoo!. “He only knew me as Tony’s daughter. He loved Tony Curtis. So, I’m sure Arnold just looked at me like it’d be like kissing your niece or something. … I guarantee, in fact, he did not want me to be in that movie. I think he just thought it would be weird. We knew each other a little bit socially. I just don’t think he thought of me as his leading lady. I think he thought of me as Tony’s little girl. And it was Jim who said, ‘No, I’ve written this for her. She’s the one to do this with you.’”