Zade Rosenthal
Josh Wolk
December 08, 1999 AT 05:00 AM EST

Millions of Arnold Schwarzenegger fans who turned out to see ”End of Days” weren’t the only ones surprised by what they witnessed. Even Arnold’s costar Robin Tunney wasn’t prepared for what she saw — that’s because she’d filmed most of her scenes before the special effects had even been created. ”I didn’t realize how sweeping the sets are and what the scope was until I saw the movie,” Tunney tells EW Online. ”Then it was like opening a birthday present. ‘Wow! So this is what we made!”’

Tunney, 27, is relatively new to the world of special effects, having done mostly low-budget dramas like ”Niagara Niagara” and ”Julian Po.” Her transition to the world of exploding walls and flamethrowers may have been jarring, but her mind would have been put more at ease if Schwarzenegger hadn’t been busy toying with it. ”One day a fireball was supposed to burst through the front window, and right before they called ‘Action,’ Arnold turned to me and said, ‘Robin, they showed you where the fire extinguisher is in case you catch on fire, right?”’ she remembers. ”I was like, ‘Excuse me? No, no, no, I’m holding your hand in this scene, they can’t afford to catch YOU on fire. That’s my safety net.’ He goes, ‘Oh, Robin, I’ve caught on fire several times.”’

But it took a lot more than Schwarzenegger’s head games to scare Tunney away from the action genre. Her sci-fi adventure ”Supernova” opens in January, and she’s currently in the midst of shooting ”The Vertical Limit” in New Zealand, playing a stranded mountain climber rescued by Chris O’Donnell. Tunney took five weeks of mountaineering training before shooting, and she has warmed to the sport. She plans to climb Kilimanjaro after the shoot. However, she’s a little worried that it won’t be quite the same on the slopes without the camera around. ”I’m afraid I’m gonna be on the trip, and I’ll realize, ‘Oh, I didn’t like climbing, the character liked it,”’ she laughs. ”Next thing you know, I’ll be on another movie and think I’m a ballet dancer.” Just as long as her slippers don’t catch on fire.

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