From the opening clip of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu plié-ing in a ballet studio, to the piano chords leading into Michael Small’s theme song with the great first lyric “Everybody wants to live forever,” to the training (with gym equipment you’re likely to find only in man caves), to the contest scenes, and everything in between—oh, and all the dialogue that’s been quoted by bodybuilders everywhere for the past 36 years—1977’s Pumping Iron, starring Schwarzenegger, Columbu, Lou Ferrigno, Ed Corney, Mike Katz, and Serge Nubret, among others, has been the inspiration for generations of aspiring bodybuilders.
Now, with the big-screen release of Generation Iron this September, bodybuilding gets a long-awaited and long-overdue makeover. Narrated by Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actor Mickey Rourke, Generation Iron takes over where Pumping Iron left off. Filmed last year, the docudrama stars Phil Heath, Kai Greene, Branch Warren, Dennis Wolf, Roelly Winklaar, Ben Pakulski, and Hidetada Yamagishi, and captures the real-life drama of the sport’s greatest athletes as they vie to become the 2012 Mr. Olympia.
In the past four issues of FLEX, director, writer, and producer Vlad Yudin (who had the unenviable task of filming contest-dieting bodybuilders—yikes!) gave us behind-the-scenes nuggets about filming Yamagishi, Winklaar, Wolf, Warren, and Pakulski.
Here, in the first of our Generation Iron features, Yudin gives us more insight into the making of this ground-breaking film. We also get up close and personal with Kai Greene on what it means to be in a movie that’s sure to inspire the next wave of bodybuilding stars.
FLEX: It’s been well over three decades since Pumping Iron. What was your motivation for making Generation Iron, and why do it now?
Vlad Yudin: There are a few reasons. First and foremost, I’m a huge fan of the original. There had been nothing of such magnitude done on this sport—at the time, most of the public wasn’t even aware that this was an actual sport. Pumping Iron changed the whole bodybuilding and fitness industry and the way regular people viewed weight training. I had a conversation with Jerome Gary [producer of Pumping Iron] and we talked in great detail about how this film changed the public’s perception of bodybuilding. Really, most people didn’t know what bodybuilding was. It’s one of those sports that’s largely unknown; to this day, there’s a lot of misunderstanding, so there needs to be a reeducation. We decided it was the right time to reintroduce it, if you will, to the new generation.