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An ice-cold Arnold sends Batman back to his cave

“The Terminator meets the refrigerator,” is how director Joel Schumacher describes Arnold Schwarzenegger’s top-billed turn as the nefarious Mr. Freeze in the upcoming “Batman and Robin,” Warner Bros.’ entry in the summer blockbuster sweepstakes.

In keeping with the Batman tradition of character duality, Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze was once a brilliant molecular biologist who suffers a terrible accident while trying to cryogenically preserve his ill wife, and as a result is transformed into a deranged criminal forced to live in a sub-zero suit powered by diamonds.

That suit, according to Schumacher, weighed over 50 pounds, a burden that did not prevent the superstar from doing much of his own stuntwork. But even more than the action, Schumacher feels audiences will be impressed by Schwarzenegger’s thesping.

“His acting is wonderful, especially with (Uma Thurman, as co-villain “Poison Ivy”),” he says. “He is very funny, which audiences have seen before, and he’s very, very menacing, which they also have seen, but I’m not sure they’ve seen them together in the same role.”

The director adds: “He was my only choice for the role, and I was thrilled he said yes. He’s one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known.”