Arnold Schwarzenegger on His Killer Snapchat Game and Blowing Sh*t Up for Charity

Social media “has been very good” for reaching fans, the star of “Terminator: Genisys” and “Maggie” tells TheWrap

Last Updated: May 21, 2015 @ 11:51 AM

After filming the blockbusters “Terminator: Genisys” and the intimate indie “Maggie,” international superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger is returning his attention to After-School All-Stars, a program that helps at-risk youth.

Schwarzenegger recently teamed with Omaze, a company that raffles off one-of-a-kind experiences with celebrities, on an action-packed promo to support After-School All-Stars, which helps young people stay safe, happy and healthy as they pursue higher education and careers that give back to the community.

Those who donate to the Omaze campaign are automatically entered to win a chance to “blow sh*t up with Arnold Schwarzenegger,” who has always held education near and dear to his heart, having led the Prop 49 initiative in 2002 that raised nearly $500 million for California after-school programs before he became governor.

Schwarzenegger has been particularly adept at navigating social media to get his message across, and TheWrap recently named him one of its 13 Hollywood stars killing it on Snapchat. At 67 years young, he has stayed ahead of the social media curve thanks to his right-hand man Daniel Ketchell, who was a fresh-out-of-college staffer when Schwarzenegger took office and has been with him ever since.

“Arnold has been a marketing expert for basically his whole life, from spreading bodybuilding to selling movies overseas, so he always wants to connect with people in new ways,” Ketchell told TheWrap. “It’s honestly the best time giving him the tools and letting him show his personality and message directly to his fans with no filter.”

Schwarzenegger took time out of his busy schedule of blowing stuff up in a tank to speak to TheWrap Tuesday about his social media prowess and how his fans have the power to change the lives of at-risk youth.

Is social media a valuable tool to get people involved in charity?
I think it’s a very effective way of raising money. When you have a charity like this, or a program you’re passionate about, the #1 thing you work on is raising money, because there are experts who handle the organizational part. We have the private sector, the non-profit sector and the public sector working together and hopefully we’ll raise a lot of money like we did last year. We have fun and let people live out their dream. They meet me, we have breakfast, we work out, we take photographs and then I take them out to the ranch and blow things up. It’s another way of raising $1 million to $2 million.

You’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope. What’s your favorite platform to use?
It depends what it is for, but Snapchat has been one of the things that has been very good. Reddit too. After a screening of “Maggie,” we did a selfie line where people who thought they’d never take a picture with me can now take a selfie with me. I’m having a great time with social media. Some like it and some don’t. I happen to like it.

Are your kids ever embarrassed about your presence on social media? Have you converted any of your friends?
No, the kids like it. And a lot of people get encouraged by my age [to join social media]. They know I’m not a genius when it comes to all this technology, and they say, ‘well if he can do it and he uses it, maybe we should do it too.’

Do you feel like a viral video starring a celebrity blowing things up is practically required to get people involved in charity these days?
I know George Clooney has gone out and had dinner with somebody and raised money with a nice, quiet evening and a photo op. Everyone does it a different way. People know me as kind of the action star, and how many actors or people have their own M47 tank? I used to drive an American tank when I was in the Austrian army and they handed it over when it was outdated. They wanted to destroy the tanks completely but they shipped this one over and I drive it around. It works 100 percent! My kids’ friends, every time we did an action scene, they said, ‘make sure you’re gonna be on the set when your Daddy blows things up.’ It was kind of Christmas for them, so I think people would enjoy driving around and crushing things in a tank.

You said that most people know you as an action star, but your new movie, “Maggie,” shows you in a very different light. How did you use social media to promote a smaller indie film like that one, and is it any different than the social media strategy for a big movie like “Terminator: Genisys?”
We had a Reddit screening, that was really a huge success. It’s funny, when I told the studio about it, they said, ‘I don’t know if this will work, let us get back to you.’ I said, ‘there is no getting back to me. This is what we’re doing. I already told the Reddit people.’ With “Terminator,” we’ve already been out there with posters and trailers. I feel very strongly about going directly to our audience and not having to worry about holding a press conference. The media is great — I’m a creation of the media — but the downside is that you can’t always get the information out the way you want because they have their own idea of what they want to promote. You want to push the after-school program #1 and they want to write about something else, like “Terminator.” This is the power of social media.