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Arnold Schwarzenegger opens up on abusive childhood and ‘strange violence’ he witnessed

Rhiannon Ingle

| Last updated 

Arnold Schwarzenegger has opened up about his abusive childhood and the 'strange violence' he witnessed.

The Austrian-born movie star delved into lesser-known parts of his life in Arnold, the new three-part limited Netflix docuseries about the life of Schwarzenegger.

Acting as the orator of his own story, the Pumping Iron icon has provided audiences with a rarely touched-upon insight into three key chapters of his life: Arnold as an athlete, Arnold as an actor and Arnold as an American.

In the first episode of the doc, titled 'Athlete', the series focuses on Schwarzenegger’s upbringing in post-war Austria.


He talks about his family life as well as his introduction into the world of competitive bodybuilding, reflecting on what he describes as a 'lifelong talent for clearly seeing the path in front of him'.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has opened up about the 'violence' of his childhood in the new Netflix docuseries. Credit: Netflix
Arnold Schwarzenegger has opened up about the 'violence' of his childhood in the new Netflix docuseries. Credit: Netflix

"In other words," Netflix explains, "his childhood laid the foundation for what it would take for Arnold to become the international celebrity he is today.

In the episode, Schwarzenegger says: "The idea was to sculpt the body to your will. But it can also be used to shape your mind — to do the things that everyone calls impossible.


"I had a fire in the belly for much, much more."

He also discusses the 'more difficult parts' of his childhood namely his father’s role as 'disciplinarian' and his role in encouraging the competitive relationship Schwarzenegger had with his brother.

"There was a kind of schizophrenic behaviour that my brother and I witnessed at home," Schwarzenegger recalls. "There was the kind father, and other times when my father would come home drunk at three in the morning and he would be screaming.

"We would wake up and, all of a sudden our hearts were pounding because we knew that meant he could, at any given time, strike my mother or go crazy. So there was the kind of strange violence."

The actor discussed the 'brutality' of his childhood. Credit: Netflix
The actor discussed the 'brutality' of his childhood. Credit: Netflix

Just when Schwarzenegger was climbing the ranks to reach Mr. Universe stardom, his brother tragically died in a drunk driving incident - something which he blames their upbringing on.

In the episode, Schwarzenegger claimed his brother 'started drinking because our upbringing was very tough'.

"The brutality that was at home, the beatings that we got from our parents sometimes — all of this I think he could not sustain," the Terminator star went on.


"He was much more delicate of a person by nature."

Arnold is currently available to stream on Netflix.

If you've been affected by any of the issues in this story, you can speak in confidence about where to get help from Mind free on 0300 123 3393, 9am–6pm Monday to Friday

Topics: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Celebrity, Documentaries, Netflix, Mental Health

Rhiannon Ingle
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