Arnold on politics - 'I'll be back'

Monday, February 11, 2002

LOS ANGELES -- The big guy from Austria likes the sound of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Pumping political iron will have to wait awhile, though, while the actor revisits roles as the world's favorite cyborg from the future and a family man-superspy.

A Republican booster and organizer for inner-city youth programs, Schwarzenegger said he considered running for governor this year but put his political career on hold to shoot "Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines." He hopes to follow that up with a "True Lies" sequel.

"For the next few years, I will be busy with show business and movies, and then I can rethink the whole thing later on," Schwarzenegger said. "I don't like what I see in the leadership. I think I can do better than them in many cases. That's what gives me the enthusiasm to do something like that down the line."

Besides film commitments, Schwarzenegger said he would rather wait to seek office till his four children with wife Maria Shriver are older.

'The world is the way it is'

Schwarzenegger, 54, has had to play some politics with "Collateral Damage," fielding questions about the propriety of releasing another of his violent thrillers given the war on terrorism. In "Collateral Damage," Schwarzenegger plays a Los Angeles firefighter seeking vengeance against the Colombian terrorist whose bomb killed the hero's wife and son.

The movie had been scheduled for release in October, but Warner Bros. postponed it after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Schwarzenegger and the studio agreed the grieving nation did not need to see fictional terrorism so soon after the carnage at the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Suitable time has passed to put "Collateral Damage" in theaters, Schwarzenegger said. The attacks and America's war against terrorists have not deflated the actor's -- or the audience's -- interest in explosive action films, he said.

"I don't see the Sept. 11 situation as, 'OK, now I should pull back on violence,'" Schwarzenegger said, "Because the world is the way it is. Part of the world is violence, and it always will be. There's a certain amount of audience out there that enjoys this type of movie."

But if the audience isn't there for that kind of movie, he said, "I'm just as happy making a comedy like 'Twins' or 'Kindergarten Cop.'"

Heroic action roles have been his staple, but the former bodybuilding champ broadened his big-screen appeal with those two comedy hits. His other light films, "Junior" and "Jingle All the Way," failed to click, though. And when he went villainous in "Batman & Robin," it was the least successful of the four modern "Batman" flicks.

After beginning his film career in 1970 with the campily awful "Hercules in New York," in which an American voice was dubbed in place of his thick Austrian accent, Schwarzenegger gained attention for the 1977 bodybuilding documentary "Pumping Iron."

'Then we can buy Austria'

Schwarzenegger remains politically active, pushing an initiative he hopes to have on the California ballot this fall to budget $550 million in state money for after-school programs.

A run for governor is at least four years away, though.

"That's the great thing about this country, that as a foreigner, 'Mr. Schwarzen-Schnitzel,'" he said with a laugh, "I can come here and say, 'Maybe some day I'm going to run this state.' It's a big state. Then we can buy Austria."

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