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California Fitness

Arnold 2.0: how Calum Von Moger played young Schwarzenegger to perfection in ‘Bigger’

  • Australian bodybuilder gets a boost as his film debut earns praise
  • Former Mr Universe recovering from his third major surgery in 10 months
PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 October, 2018, 8:02am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2018, 3:22pm

Australian celebrity and Instagram star Calum Von Moger is probably feeling a bit better these days after film critics have given him the thumbs up for his performance as young Arnold Schwarzenegger in the new movie Bigger.

Von Moger was selected from hundreds of hopefuls last year to play the part of the Austrian Oak in the movie that traces the rise of the Weider brothers – Joe and Ben – who fought adversity as Canadian Jews to build a fitness empire after “discovering” Schwarzenegger in the 1960s.

The 28-year-old Los Angeles-based Australian is a well-known YouTube and Instagram star with more than two million followers before he took on the role of a lifetime.

For a start, Von Moger does strike an uncanny resemblance to the seven-time Mr Olympia and he played the part in the George Gallo-directed movie, based on true events, to perfection according to film critics. In the movie, Von Moger, who is of Dutch and Austrian descent, looks eerily like the most famous bodybuilder in the world with muscles and height (they are both 1.88m tall) to match. Even his Austrian accent impressed the former California governor himself.

The movie opened to a limited release in North America this month and although it has been generally been panned by critics, Von Moger saves the day as the stand-out star in his first movie role.

“I think I did all right [in the movie]. I’ll let you guys be the judge of that,” said Von Moger, who has 2.8 million Instagram followers, in an interview on his YouTube channel.

“I’m excited because it’s a very cool story and I think a lot of you will enjoy it,” he added.

“I have been taking acting classes with a dialect coach,” he told Today Extra on how he perfected his Austrian accent.

The Weider brothers are credited with building the backbone of the fitness industry, founding the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) and amassing an empire that included bodybuilding and fitness magazines, and manufactured fitness equipment.

Von Moger has a pivotal part in the movie as the young bodybuilder who leaves his native Austria on his journey to the Mr Olympia contest and to fame before becoming one of the most iconic Hollywood stars. The Australian bodybuilder was excited to play his idol in the film.

The trailer for the movie opens with Joe Weider (played by Tyler Hoechlin) talking to a young Arnold Schwarzenegger (played by Calum Von Moger) saying: “Hello Arnold, my name is Joe Weider, how would you like to be the face of bodybuilding?”

Bigger drew a mixed reception but film critics were impressed by Von Moger’s portrayal of young Arnold.

“The movie picks up a little steam at this point, not least because of Calum Von Moger’s really uncanny resemblance to the young Schwarzenegger (not to mention his spectacular approximation of the icon’s accent),” said Glenn Kenny of rogerebert.com.

The Los Angeles Times also praised the Australian actor’s performance.

“... The lone exception is provided by Austrian [sic] bodybuilder-actor Calum Von Moger, whose playful, dead-ringer impersonation of a baby-faced Ah-nuld gives the film what all those tired clichés can’t – a beating pulse,” it wrote.

Von Moger could do with a boost as he recuperates at home in Los Angeles after having undergone successful surgery to repair his left bicep that was twice injured – once last November and again in April when he almost killed himself while rappelling down a cliff in his native Australia.

He first suffered a bicep tear in a gym stunt gone wrong after trying to bicep curl a 400-pound barbell with IFFB pro bodybuilder Chris Bumstead in a two-man attempt. That led to his first bicep surgery last December.

He aggravated the injury again in April after he almost fell off a cliff on his descent while rappelling, suffering a complete rupture of his quadriceps tendon while dislocating his knee cap.

“Surgery was a success. Always in good hands with Dr Banffy and his staff,” said the fun-loving Von Moger on Instagram recently on his bicep surgery.

“I feel so much better mentally now that I have this operation out the way. I can finally start rebuilding myself. And to top it off I got some encouraging words from Arnold @schwarzenegger during my PT this morning.”

Von Moger has had a rough year but he’s on the road to recovery and is looking forward to hitting the gym again, where he will hopefully stop performing any more stunts and return to becoming one of the world’s top bodybuilders.