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Kuato's a Mutant with a lot on His Mind! We Talk with Marshall Bell!

It was so great talking with Bennett that we decided to follow up with another great Arnold co-star who has been both a friend and foe for Arnold: the unforgettable Marshall Bell, who played Webster in Twins and George/Kuato in Total Recall. Marshall has been one of my favorite "that guy" actors for a while-- whenever he shows up in a movie, you know he's going to steal the scene. So it was very cool finally getting to talk to him on Arnold Radio News! Let's dive right in before Webster shoots our feet!

TheArnoldFans: Hello, Mr. Bell, this is the Gillinator.

Marshall: Oh, I know who you are… I’ve seen the name.

TAFs: You of course played Webster in "Twins"…

Marshall:  I did, one of my favorite roles.

TAFs: …and the great Kuato in "Total Recall."

Marshall:  Well I was George and Kuato. They tried other voices for Kuato, and I had to audition to get the Kuato voice, against some heavy hitters by the way. 

TAFs:  So it was you doing the whispering Kuato voice?

Marshall:  It was me being Kuato, I don’t think I’m getting in trouble telling you that. Yeah, I got both people.

TAFs: How did you first get into acting?

Marshall:  My wife is a well known costume designer… she won 4 Oscars, and she worked on a film called “Midnight Express” with a director named Alan Parker who was starting to do a movie, and he knew me because of my knowing her. He asked a casting director named Fred Russe who told him he was having trouble casting a certain part in a movie he was doing called “Birdie” and he was looking for somebody kind of like me… he said “Why don’t you just use Marshall. He asked me to audition for it and then… that was how it happened.

TAFs: That was 1984 when "Terminator" came out, too.

Marshall:  As a matter of fact, for my own consciousness the two go together because I remember wandering down on a rainy day down 86th street to go to the movie theater down on Broadway and just wandered into "Terminator" having no idea what I was getting in on, and walked out and was just like “Yeah, baby!”

TAFs: Then that opened the door for more roles?

Marshall:  As it happens, Nicholas Cage who was in "Birdy"... I said “What do I do about an agent?” I think I was 19. He introduced me to his agent, and that woman was my agent for 30 years, until she quit being an agent and became a manager of very big properties. I ended up, because of her, auditioning pretty regularly because the little part I had in Birdy was quirky and I had to do some trick in it, so it got me in the rooms. By the second year I’d done “Stand By Me” and “Elm Street.”

TAFs: Do you enjoy playing good guys like Kuato, or bad guys like Webster, or roles more in a gray area?

Marshall:  Well, Webster was more of a complex guy. I loved playing Webster. If I could play Webster and have a series about Webster… that would be heaven for me.

TAFs: Maybe in Triplets, Webster comes back!

Marshall:  That would be wonderful because I loved everybody on that project.

TAFs: Do you have any good stories from filming “Twins”?

Marshall:  Nonstop! Auditioning for it, it was a reasonably sized part, and I'vean could’ve had any of his collection of actors to play it. I auditioned and he gave it to me, and unbelievably let me invent the character. He choreographed me when I did it because I didn’t know much… but he let me pretty much run with the character. I will never be any more grateful than I was there.

Gillinator: You were very threatening in a very laid back way.

Marshall:  Well he kind of liked what he did. He was happy in his work. I had a good time with everybody on there. There was one incident where I was told to… kick a suitcase closed, and I kept forgetting to do it and I'vean got furious. Then I forgot to do it again and then Arnold kicked it closed for me. So I worshipped him forever after that. It was a totally gentlemanly thing to do… because you’re under tension, and we shot it in the bottom of some sewer.

Gillinator: Are there any pranks that you can recall from the set?

Marshall:  Well I’m not gonna nail on Arnold for this… but put it this way, I won the farting contest. That’s about what I’ll say.

TAFs: What was the process of putting on the Kuato prosthetic and makeup?

Marshall: One of my favorite tales to tell. The first day took 9 hours to glue that on. The night before I had not been able to sleep... That week, I got about an hour of sleep, so I was in sleep deprivation during that whole performance. It was rough, and it weighed about 80 pounds. It had wires hooked up because it was all animatronic. A lot of my time was spent at 3 in the morning, going up there lying in a chair and getting glue put on me. The designer of it is a guy named Rob Bottin and he's a genius. He's one of my best friends over the years, and he doesn't like people too much. I had to get him to cut a pee-hole in the thing so I could even do that. It was fascinating to be a part of that whole process of getting it on and figuring out how we were going to do it. And Arnold again, he helped make that whole thing work, becuase he's a good actor! He wasn't just being some big beefcake here, he had to act and he did.

TAFs: Did you get to keep anything from either movie?

Marshall: No, but the Kuato sort of statue is in Rob Bottin's living room, and he doesn't let anybody come visit him, but he did let me take an old friend of mine and his two sons over to his place to see it and that was a big deal for everybody concerned. And it's just sitting/standing there looking like me.

TAFs: We usually hold an annual Halloween Contest on, for people to do Arnold related Halloween costumes, and doing a Kuato is a popular one to do sometimes. 

Marshall: You know people, when I'm at a convention and they want that picture, and they say “How long does it take to put that on?” And I start to tell them the story I told you and their eyes glaze over. 

TAFs: Were there any scenes in either movie that didn’t actually make the final cut? 

Marshall: Yeah there was a scene in "Twins," where after I shoot the guys in the room, where I tell them I have my driving gloves and that deal, and I walk out and theres this kinda cute secretary sitting at the desk, and I'm supposed to hit on her, and I guess that didn’t work. So that wasn’t in. But then some additional stuff got put in, because I had to kill David Carusos character in the parking lot, And there was more of that filmed later. And he was a really good sport because we have stunts, and when I kicked his chair over and he fell backwards before the stunt guy was over there to protect him. He didn’t complain at all. Fortunately he wasn’t hurt. Caruso was a pretty good sport on that movie actually. 

TAFs: Has anyone ever wanted to make an action figure of the Kuato with your likeness and everything? Have you been approached about that before? 

Marshall: I have not. I’d be very surprised if theres not an action figure out there somewhere. But I don’t get any… Lets just say they didn’t come to me about it. 

TAFs: Do you have any other good Arnold stories?

Marshall: Arnold had this trailer, down in Mexico. He did two things, he brought a state of the arm gym that was state of the art and he let everybody use it. And he would come in and he would help you train. He would have still been a billionaire if he’d only been a trainer. Because he was so good at what he told you. You know he’d come over and say “Hey asshole, you don’t have to do that.” And you’d do what he told you, and you’d get more effectively trained. And then the other thing was he would fly over a special pastry from Vienna called a Sachertorte and I've been to Vienna and I liked it. And he would invite me in and I get to eat some of his chocolate Sachertorte. He was a good guy. 

TAFs: We love those things about Arnold. He’s always very supportive. 

Marshall: Just the idea that he had this enormous gym. Big gym. And he was the trainer and resident. I mean you're sitting there doing a curl the wrong way, over he comes, because.. ‘You’re an idiot!” He had these great friends that would come in, he has this friend Sven who was about 300 pounds of solid muscle. So I was actually in the hotel gym and he came in there looking for Arnold, and I kinda knew who it was he was Mr. Universe. So I looked up while I was lifting my 60lbs and I said “Hey, I think I wanna kick your ass!”. So he did a thing, He’s a very good natured guy, he did this where he pressed me over his head. (Chuckles) 

TAFs: You’ve mentioned that you loved the role of Webster. Are there any other particular roles of any of the films you’ve done that you’re most proud of? Even if it wasn’t as widely seen as the Arnold movies? 

Marshall: Well I love a lot of the work I've done. I’ve been very lucky. I'm the kind of Actor who doesn’t gets cast in a role that I'm not gunna love. You know I was in "Capote" and I liked playing that role. And I was in "Airheads" and I really loved that role too. But I really loved every role. 

TAFs: Even in "Starship Troopers" where you’re found in the locker. 

Marshall: My wife told me that it was such a little role. And I said “Yeah, but it's Paul (Verhoeven) and I'm gunna do it because it's the same bunch of people who did "Total Recall" and I'm not gunna not do a role for Paul.” Well, I've never gotten stopped by more people, i mean not as much as Kuato, but nearly. I get stopped for Starship Troopers as much as anything I've ever done. 

TAFs: That's great. It was such a memorable performance. I think that's why. Even though it's a small role in terms of screen time. It's such a big role in terms of impact to the movie. 

Marshall: Paul kinda let me go insane in the role. “You dont understand, we're all gunna die!”. He just let me go. And Paul said when I'm dying under the grasshopper “Well I like that, you’re so terrified of the monster.” and I said “No I'm not terrified of the monster Paul, I'm terrified of YOU.” And the whole place, there were about 100 people there, they all gave a big cheer. 

TAFs: We always wanted Paul and Arnold to re-team again sometime, they especially both had the idea for the movie about the Crusdaes. 

Marshall: My wife was going to do the costumes for that. She worked on it for the whole time it was on. Yeah, "The Crusades" is one (film) that I really wanted to happen, but then the studio went down you know. Carolco was right down the street from where I live. I was loving that. I auditioned for it, for some nutty hermit. 

TAFs: Outside of acting what other passions or hobbies do you have? 

Marshall: Well I'm a partner with a very good friend of mine on a cattle ranch in Montana so, I'm very distant from it but I care about cows, and I want people if they’re going to eat meat, to eat really good meat. Which usually amounts to having one of those Japanese cows called a Wagyu. If you go to a restaurant and you ask them if they have that and they DO, then by all means eat it! And lets see, I also fly fish. And I like getting in my Cherokee and driving all over the country. 

TAFs: I also saw this clip of you in this Kickstarter project called “Killcast”. How was that project to work on? 

Marshall: Oh I had a great time! I'm glad to talk about that too. The guy who made that happen had no idea what a good guy he was being to get these people together to do that project. Which they did all out of love basically. And it turned out to be a super evening. And everybody cared and was professional and everything else. And I got Sean Clark to come in there with me to die with me, who’s my Convention guy, and he loves that. So we had a blast doing that. 

TAFs: What other new projects and things coming up? 

Marshall: Well as it happens I'm actually in a movie that's very kind of “un-genred” that's called “90 Minutes In Heaven” that's in theaters now. With Kate Bosworth, and I play an Orthopedic surgeon, a very kind of straight forward doctor. And then I’m in these Charles Barkley commercials for a product called CDW. And I just did a pepsi commercial where I do the boogaloo and the twist. You know he’s some old guy in an office who is listening to the pepsi song. I hope it gets in. And now I'm kinda like resting actually. 

TAFs: Back in college in the dorm we would set up the Mr. Freeze standees and were always joking around saying Arnold quotes, and especially with your character Kuato in Total Recall. Arnold would say “You’re Kuato right? And then we’d say your characters response “Wrong, Kuato’s a mutant. But don’t get upset when you see him.” 

Marshall: Well I was the same way. I saw all these Arnold movies before I actually worked with him. And it was kind of like a wish fulfillment that I got to work with him two times in a row. (Chuckles) 

TAFs: Yeah, pretty much back to back! 

Marshall: And also I knew Jerome Gary who made “Pumping Iron.” 

TAFs: Yeah “Pumping Iron” is a classic. Just Arnold being himself, and he comes across so great in that film. 

Marshall: Arnold’s the real deal man. Thats all you can say. 

TAFs: Do you have any favorite Arnold movies besides the two you were in? 

Marshall: Terminator 1 was my favorite Terminator to be honest with you. Although I became a friend of John Bruno who invented the mercury kind of transformational things that were in “Terminator 2” you know where Patrick kind of does a takeoff from “The Abyss,” that mercury effect. And I liked “Commando” but really I like all of it. 

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Marshall! You've truly "opened our minds" to your greatness even more! If you'd like to listen to the entire interview, which includes playing my audio tribute/mash-up of Marshall and Arnold quotes for him, and shocking him by asking about "The Vagrant," check out this episode of Arnold Radio News (and subscribe!):

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