"I believe I have the potential to be an excellent President of the United States"
By Entertainment Correspondent Colin Paterson
"Get to the chopper." "I'll be back."
At 11:00 on a sunny London morning, Arnold Schwarzenegger possesses a keen understanding of what the general public desires. He doesn't hold back when I ask if I will have to perform his most well-known catchphrases because of the ongoing actors' strike.
Amid dumbbells and whirring machinery, lines from Predator and Terminator resound. "The actors' strike forbids you to promote your movies, but I don't have to promote those," he argues.
Schwarzenegger is not someone you would dispute with over trade union fine print, even at seventy-six. Here, action hero and industrial activity collide.
We have the Guardians Personal Training center at Parliament Hill Lido all to ourselves while we record an interview for BBC Breakfast while seated on nearby gym benches. He yells, "Better gym than I had this morning at Claridge's," while quietly informing me that he has already worked out for the day.
After writing Arnold Schwarzenegger on his clapperboard, my cameraman Peter turns to face him and asks, "Please tell me I spelt your name correctly?" with concern.
I can attest that even Arnold Schwarzenegger takes a full two seconds to check the spelling of his own name before grinning and responding, "Yes."
After a single applause, the interview can start.
In the science fiction movie Terminator 1984, Arnold Schwarzenegger played an unstoppable killing machine.
In 1984's Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger portrayed an unstoppable murdering machine.
I intend to book
Speaking about his new book Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life, which is finding support in unexpected areas, Arnold Schwarzenegger is in London. Despite its distaste for Republican lawmakers, The Guardian closed its assessment with the words "An improvement guide which actually works."
Although acknowledging that "the writing doesn't pump much iron," the Los Angeles Times was less than thrilled and asked if reading the book had made them exercise more. You can bet.
And that is precisely what Arnold (as his security guard hinted to us prior to his arrival, "He prefers Arnold to Arnie") is aiming for with the book.
Work Your Ass Off, Never Think Small, and Shut Your Mouth Open Your Mind are just a few of the seven chapters.
"The idea behind it is just for people to become more successful," he elaborates.
The seven-time Mr. Olympia and four-time Mr. Universe winner says, "When I grew up, all I wished was to be the most muscular man in the world, and to get into movies and to make millions of dollars. It was one of those things I never dreamed of, to be a motivational speaker or to write motivational books.
In a scene from the 1988 movie "Twins," Arnold Schwarzenegger is seen gazing back at Danny DeVito.
GETTY IMAGES, THE IMAGE SOURCE
Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger costarred in the 1988 film Twins
But following two decades of successful box office films, such as Conan the Barbarian, Twins, and True Lies, things started to shift.
He discovered that people were looking to him for answers and that he had "new dreams" and "new goals" all of a sudden. They were impressed by what I had achieved, and I recognized a gap and a need, which is how this book was written."
When I inquire as to whether the term "self-help" is derogatory, he responds by exposing what he sees as a widespread misperception about himself: "We need to combine helping ourselves with receiving outside assistance. I detest it whenever someone tells me, "You are the epitome of a self-made man."
He repeats, "I hate that," with a little more vigor.
"I want no one to believe they are capable of doing it on their own. We all need assistance.
Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrates his election night victory in Los Angeles, November 7, 2006, defeating Democrat Treasurer Phil Angelides.
From 2003 to 2011, Schwarzenegger held two terms as governor of California.
The following is an extensive list of persons Schwarzenegger claims he would not have succeeded without their support and inspiration. The bodybuilder Reg Park, who was born in Leeds and appeared in Hercules movies in the 1960s, is among them; he also mentions "5.8 million people who voted for me" in reference to his two stints as the Republican governor of California.
"I explain in the book that we should all reach out for help and as soon as you have realised that, then you also recognise the fact that you have also got to help other people."
Over the past thirty years, Schwarzenegger has dedicated his time to helping others. He has participated in the Special Olympics, donated $1 million (£800,000) to first responders during the pandemic, and earlier this month, threw an Oktoberfest poker-themed dinner party that raised $7 million (£5.8 million) for his after-school clubs program. People wore lederhosen.
Colin Paterson, a BBC correspondent, gives Arnie a strong handshake.
But Schwarzenegger is eager for people to know that he has also gone through some really dark times.
He begins by saying, "There were tremendous defeats and tremendous losses," before going on to talk about bodybuilding competitions in which he lost and box office failures. (The role of Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin served as his worst actor nominee, which was a particular career low point).
"And there have even been personal losses like my marriage," he adds, revealing a vulnerability that didn't seem possible given that at the end of Commando, he slaughtered 77 people in a single scene.
The details of the extramarital affairs, which included getting the nanny pregnant and causing his divorce with Maria Shriver, the niece of John F. Kennedy, are not discussed in Be Useful. All of it was covered in his book, Total Recall, published in 2012. But it does show how he got back up from what he refers to in the book's introduction as "his world coming crashing down around him".
"You must take accountability for those errors. You are unable to go and place the blame elsewhere. Accept accountability. Accept responsibility for your errors, grow from them, and then turn around to become a better person."
On October 10, 2023, in New York City, Ryan Holiday (L) and Arnold Schwarzenegger attend a chat with Ryan Holiday at 92nd Street Y.
According to Schwarzenegger's latest book, there will be seven tools for life.
Arnold Schwarzenegger will never be the president of the United States, despite all of his accomplishments.
According to the US constitution, the person occupying that position needs to be a citizen by birth. Originally from Thal, Austria, Schwarzenegger resided there until he was nineteen.
I enquire as to the level of his anger with his disqualification.
Without a hint of hesitation, he states, "I think I would make a great president," but he also feels that everything he has achieved has been made possible by America.
"I was greeted with open arms by the American people, who were so welcoming and gave me a lot of opportunities." Nobody there was able to prevent me from succeeding.
"So the only thing that I can't do, which is run for president, I'm not going to complain about that."
On October 30, 2009, in Washington, DC, Vice President Joseph Biden (R) talks during an event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, accompanied by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) (L).
2009 photo of Governor Schwarzenegger with Joe Biden, the future US President
It is evident that he has not completely given up on his dream of holding the nation's highest position at some point in the future: "Well, there's the constitution. Without a doubt, immigration reform is necessary to make that difference. But if I went out and tried to change the legislation, it would be a little bit selfish."
He is most definitely not looking forward to the potential presidential contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in the following year. "I just hope that America finds some really young blood," he continues.
"Because to me, it is a little bit odd that we are having a battle between people today in the late seventies and early eighties rather than people that in the forties and fifties or maybe even younger and have them have a chance at this great, great job."
He is a boy doll.
Ultimately, it's evident that Schwarzenegger still has a passion for movies as he talks excitedly about unnamed upcoming projects.
Barbie was the last movie he saw in a theater, and he calls it "brilliantly made." I make the suggestion that he could have been considered for the role of Ken if it had been an 80s movie. "There's a good character in there," he says with much approval.
I also ask why it's no longer possible for a great actor to begin a movie with just their name. Imagine Bruce Willis, Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1980s.
"I hope my son-in-law Chris Pratt doesn't hear that," he chuckles, noting that his daughter Katherine wed the actor from the Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy movies.
"You're right, though," he acknowledges. "Today's stars are cultivated much more in accordance with the franchise moniker. Rather than their carrying the film, they rose to fame due of their roles as Wonder Woman, Batman, or Superman."
"Every 10, 20 years, everything changes in the entertainment industry," he says.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is the one who understands that, as he bids farewell and heads off to get ready for a "Evening with" performance at the Royal Albert Hall. The place is packed, and he clearly knows what the enthusiastic audience will be eager to hear.
His catchphrases will literally return once more.