Dressed in military-issue camouflage and greasepaint, the hero bounds through the jungle thicket, dodging a spray of bullets here, poison-tipped arrows there. As the guerrilla rebels converge on him from all sides, he detonates a series of land mines behind him, taking out a handful of baddies all at once. in a flash, he barrels through an enemy encampment, quickly dispatching his foes with a series of moves that would give Chuck Norris pause.
Finally, after blowing up the bridge, saving the hot blond scientist along with a group of POWs, and clearing a swath for a safe helicopter landing, the hero steps out from the underbrush to a swelling score and dramatic backlighting. As the camera pans up, past his combat boots and holsters full of myriad weaponry and ammo, it sweeps past his 12-inch arms, up to his chiseled ... wait. Back up a minute. 12-inch arms? Seriously?
Hollywood has known about the importance of arms for a few decades now, starting in the 1930s with guys like Johnny "Tarzan" Weissmuller and Buster "Flash Gordon" Crabbe—both Olympic swimming gold medalists. it was Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone who ushered in the genre of stars who looked as if they could step off the screen and onto a bodybuilding stage. From Conan onward, Hollywood has provided us with a spate of well-armed stars, the better to knock out foes, carry damsels, and put butts in theater seats.
In honor of our 21-gun special issue, we've decided to rank the top 42 arms in hollywood history, in a tribute that's sure to spark some controversy and hopefully inspire movie studios to continue providing hard-training guys the world over with inspiration aplenty as they work to build screenworthy guns of their own.
Gerard's muscle mass fluctuates more often than a Mitt Romney campaign pledge, but when he's big and ripped, he's really big and ripped. Look no further than movies like Gamer or 300, in which he stars as the super-shredded King Leonidas, leading a brave group of equally pumped and chiseled warriors onto the battlefield. Wearing the signature spartan tunic and cloak, Butler's biceps saw plenty of action with each swing of the sword.
"Spartans! Ready your breakfast and eat hearty ... for tonight, we dine in hell!" (300)
If you saw him in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, you'd say no. Ten years later in the movie Ali, you'd say, "Holy shit, the dude is huge!" Smith really stepped it up with an intensive training program that turned his puny pipes into massive guns the size of those wielded in Men in Black.
"You know the difference between you and me? I make this look good." (Men in Black)
The Land Down Under has delivered a host of Hollywood tough guys with muscular physiques, and Jackman ranks right up there with the best of them. And although Hugh's arms may not be huge, they are impressive when it comes to definition and vascularity. This multitalented singer-dancer-actor has appeared in a string of hit movies and musical productions, but it was his role as Wolverine in the X-Men series that brought his cut arms to the masses.
Victor Creed: "Tell me something, Jimmy. Do you even know how to kill me?"
Logan: "I'm gonna cut your goddamned head off. See if that works." (X-Men Origins: Wolverine)
Having big, strong, powerful arms is a must for any superhero—especially one standing up for the U.S. of A. So when the call came out to defend the red, white, and blue, Evans took his training to the next level to add some big-time muscle mass. When it was all said and done, he had built biceps worthy of the Captain America uniform.
Johnny Storm (The Fantastic Four)
Even his name sounds like a tough and buff action hero—and his jacked arms back up the image. While he may be best known for his deep, gravelly voice and clean-shaven dome, Diesel's muscular physique is another trademark that's often showcased in his action flicks. At about 16.5 inches, his fully loaded guns get lots of airtime kicking butt on the big screen.
Getting cast by Spielberg for Saving Private Ryan.
"I live my life a quarter mile at a time."
(The Fast and the Furious)
To wield the mighty war hammer of a thunder god, you'd better have some powerful arms. So to make sure actor Chris Hemsworth could deliver as Thor, he underwent an intense 12-week bodybuilding regimen to transform his physique.
While not massive like some of the bigger dudes in Tinseltown, Bruce Lee backed down to no one. What he lacked in size, he made up for in strength, speed, and toughness. Shredded to perfection, Lee's chiseled arms packed a whole lot of power behind each punch. Considered by many to be the best martial artist in the world, his functional strength was unparalleled as he effortlessly brought down guys twice his size.
(After rival smashes board with fist): "Boards don't hit back." (Enter the Dragon)
Somewhere between T-Rex and Ice-T, there was Mr. T. Known most for his mohawk and excessive bling, this 1980s icon hit the big time as The Italian Stallion's trash-talking nemesis in Rocky III. While his boxing and acting skills may have
needed a little more fine-tuning, his arms were ready
for prime time. Whether in the ring or on the streets,
Mr. T did some serious damage with his
Clubber Lang (Rocky III)
"I pity the fool..."
Good luck finding a bigger actor—sizewise—on the big screen today. After working as a ditch digger, bouncer, and personal bodyguard for some A-list celebrities, Duncan shifted direction and brought his acting chops and mammoth 20-inch pythons to Hollywood to become a celebrity himself. His larger-than-life personality combined with his larger-than-life arms make it impossible not to take notice anytime he appears on the screen.
Grabbing the crotch of Tom Hanks in his massive mitt.
you don't have to be a Fan-Damme to appreciate the guns on the "Muscles from Brussels." Before blowing away the bad guys or using time machines to hunt down rogue travelers, Van Damme was a successful martial artist and kickboxer in Europe. He brought those skills, a bad accent, and a set of 16.5-inch cannons to his first box office hit, Bloodsport.
When Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren lock wrists in a duel of former army men. (Universal Soldier)
His body of work in film and television may be a bit underwhelming, but his actual body is something to marvel at. At 6'4" and 275 pounds, the dude is one intimidating physical specimen. The Hulkster combined size and definition for some mammoth, pumped-up, so-called 24-inch pythons (although we're thinking they were closer to 20 inches at his peak).
Thunderlips (Rocky III)
Tossing Rocky around the ring like a rag doll during an exhibition match.
Never heard of them? You're not alone. While never achieving showbiz success, Peter and David Paul (aka the Barbarian Brothers) have a huge cult following.
Natural Born Killers (their scene cut from movie)
While the former NFLer owns arguably the biggest defined arms in Hollywood, they're only second best in his family.
By Shawn Perine
You may not know him by name, but there's no mistaking what may be the best-developed physique on-screen today. Whether it's as the dad in Everybody Hates Chris, Hale Caesar in The Expendables (and the upcoming The Expendables 2), or the bombastic pitchman in the Old Spice TV commercials, Terry Crews always brings a mighty pair of guns to bear. yet despite a five-year NFL career, the 6'2", 235-pound Flint, MI, native's first inspiration to hit the iron came by way of a beloved family member's own impressive arms.
Q: You have the best pair of arms in Hollywood today, but we understand that, surprisingly, you don't make specialized arm training a part of your workout scheme.
No, I really don't. I don't train like a bodybuilder. My approach is more of an athletic style. As an actor, I don't want to get too big. I watch my diet and I run a whole lot to keep myself extremely cut, but I have to be careful not to look like a bodybuilder. If I were to really start specializing on my body parts, I would get too big.
Who inspired you when you were younger?
When I was a kid I had an uncle named Buddy Simpson—we called him uncle Buddy—and uncle Buddy had the biggest arms of anybody I ever saw. He worked at the airport lifting stuff all day, and he was oldschool strong. You know, he grew up on a farm, and he could throw bales of hay like they was nothing. And it was so great, because when I was a kid we'd be like, "Uncle Buddy, make a muscle!" and he would flex his arm, and when I tell you it was the biggest thing you ever saw ... I was like 7 or 8, and I would look at him and say to myself, "I've got to have arms like that!"
Apparently you were serious about getting them.
Oh, yeah. I remember in junior high, all day long I would flex my biceps until they would cramp up [laughs]! I would keep making a muscle until I'd fall on the ground, and my mother would be like, "What are you doing?" and I'd be like, "Oh, man, I got a cramp!" I wanted it bad. If you look at some of my earliest pictures I was making muscles. In high school I was still a skinny kid, but I had pretty good biceps. I remember just killing them with dumbbell curls, barbell curls ... if I was just sitting there in school I would grab a book and start curling it. So now, today, I don't have to do as much to make them look good.
So, you believe you can get a good arm workout doing compound exercises?
To me, the arms are part of the whole body, and they get hit when you're doing any kind of upper-body pulling and pushing movements, and then you can finish them off with specialized movements afterward.
So what's it like being on set with a whole cast of guys who are known for having some of the best arms in hollywood history?
I'll tell you about a little dream of mine—a fantasy that just came true. I'm on the set of Expendables 2, and I've got on one of my outfits from the movie, all of which are sleeveless. Now here I am, with the biggest superstars in movie history. I'm standing with Sly Stallone, who's got the forearms of a god—he's got the best forearms in the business right now—and Arnold's on my other side, and they're both telling me how impressed they are with my arms.
Now, I'm not trying to make this a bragging thing, but they were both like, "Hey, this guy's arms look good." and I'm like, "Wait a minute, Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are complimenting me! This is ridiculous!" I told my wife, I told my best friend, I told everybody I knew. I was like, "God bless America because this is the only place where this could happen." I mean, this was Sly Stallone—the face that launched a million workouts— and Arnold Schwarzenegger— the greatest bodybuilder of all time—complimenting me. I'm still working out today on that motivation alone.
A onetime linebacker with the Oakland Raiders, Weathers is best known for his four-peat role as Apollo Creed in the Rocky film series. As did star Sylvester Stallone, Weathers further honed his physique in each of the first four movies, to the point where he more closely resembled a bodybuilder than a boxer in Rocky IV.
"Ain't gonna be no rematch." (Rocky)
Best known for his portrayal of the Greek hero Hercules, Reeves flexed his colossal 19-inch arms in a host of high-action sword and sandal films where tough guys often fought to the death.
Jail Bait (directed by Ed Wood in 1954)
Turned down James Bond role in Dr. No.
Before becoming famous in hollywood, Dwayne Johnson played football under the bright lights at the University of Miami. Soon after, he became one of the most celebrated stars to set foot in the WWE. With his shredded 19-inch cannons, it's easy to see why they call him The Rock.
"If you smell ... what The Rock ... is COOKING!"
When Stallone was looking to cast his nemesis in Rocky IV, he needed someone with a good body who could act, box, and, most important, speak with a Russian accent. He just wasn't expecting that someone to be 6'5". However, once Lundgren packed on an extra 30 pounds of muscle and shredded his 17-inch biceps, Drago was born.
"I must break you." (Rocky IV)
Hollywood superstar Sly Stallone used his smarts and muscle to create tough, gritty underdogs trying to conquer insurmountable odds. Whether as Rocky Balboa, John Rambo, or Barney Ross (in the upcoming The Expendables 2), Sly has never been shy about showing off his amazing arms, particularly his tree-trunk-thick forearms, which so far have consistently dispatched of any and all adversaries posthaste.
"All I wanna do is go the distance." (Rocky)
When Creed and Balboa both go down in the final seconds of the final round. (Rocky II)
Like most guys with 19-inch arms, Cena first flexed his might and biceps on the gridiron before taking to the wrestling ring to become a WWE superstar. With countless main-event matches under his belt, Cena used his smackdown success as a springboard to the silver screen.
"Hustle, loyalty, and respect."
A veteran of comedy and action flicks, if Crews isn't stealing scenes from his wife, he's doing it with his physical presence. It's no surprise Crews happens to possess the huge guns of an NFL linebacker, a job that appears on his résumé as well.
Los Angeles Rams
Unlike the special effects needed to transform Edward Norton into The Incredible Hulk in the 2008 blockbuster, all Lou Ferrigno needed was some body paint and undersized clothes to bust out of. Already a two-time Mr. Universe winner, Ferrigno's incredible physique and herculean 23-inch biceps made him the obvious choice for the monster role that put him on the Hollywood map.
Christian Bale: Bulked up for The Dark Knight.
Daniel Craig: Brought out the big guns as 007.
Linda Hamilton: Showed chicks can save the world by pumping for T2.
Tom Hardy: Look for him as the backbreaking Bane in the next Batman movie.
Mickey Rourke: Created hulk-esque physique for his role in The Wrestler.
Jason Statham: Works with fine-tuned machines and finetuned arms in the Transporter flicks.
Michael Jai White: The Black Dynamite star packs massive pipes.
"Everyone has his own little Hulk inside him."
When it comes to big-time, blockbuster action heroes with bulging biceps, Arnold reigns supreme. A string of box office hits and a boatload of bodybuilding titles—he won Mr. Olympia seven times—made Schwarzenegger a household name by the mid-1980s. Known for his perfect muscular build and his not-so-perfect use of the English language, Schwarzenegger's movie career skyrocketed with three simple words, "I'll be back." Once he sported those cool shades and stuffed those cannons into his iconic leather jacket, you knew the man was money.
With Arnold, there are lots to choose from. Here are our top 5:
1. "I'll be back!" (Terminator)
2. "Hasta la vista, baby!" (Terminator 2)
3. "It's not a tumor." (Kindergarten Cop)
4. "Don't be economic girly men!" (Republican convention)
5. "If it bleeds, we can kill it." (Predator)
Dutch and Dillon (Schwarzenegger and Weather) greet with an arm-wrestling-style handshake that gives a close-up of both actors' huge guns. (Predator)