Thirteen times mister Universe. Star of Hollywood, where it generated more than 3.500 million euros. And for eight years, between 2003 and 2011, California governor
Now, at 68, a matter of not staying still, he is embarked on an environmental crusade and on the proselytizing of ‘fitness’.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is a guy who had a vision. A man who left that little village of his childhood, Thal, in Austria, with the illusion of becoming a star of bodybuilding and Hollywood. His dreams came true and left a bruise on his speech.
He makes the rhetoric of successful success without turning his attention, turning his life into a small self-help manual that spreads wherever he goes: do not stay in the comfort zone, get out and do what you have to do, do not fear failure, challenge your limits.
His father, a Nazi officer, wanted to make him a policeman. And he, it could be said that, in his own way, it corresponded to him: he dedicated half a life to wielding a variegated repertoire of pistols.
The sun illuminates Madrid’s Casa de Campo this October morning and a van with tinted crystals furrows around the glass pavilion, where the Arnold Classic is celebrated, a bodybuilding and fitness event that was born in Columbus, Ohio, And that has its European appointment in Madrid. The man who staged Total Challenge (1990), by Paul Verhoeven, descends from the vehicle with a determined step. Beige pants and brown polo, five bodyguards guard him.
Your diligent press chief will flank you during this interview, which will try to shorten it when uncomfortable questions are presented.
Schwarzenegger looks great. It is clear that getting up every day at 5.30 to exercise allows you to approach the 70 with a good pace. At the beginning of the interview, it is difficult for him to establish eye contact. Answer the first questions by looking at the window.
He does not have the prodigious voice of Constantino Romero, the man who doubled him in Terminator, but his record is deep and serious, suitable for bad papers. Despite having spent 47 years living in the United States, he still retains part of his Austrian accent. Above all, when pronouncing the double uve, which articulates like a grape.
Mr. Schwarzenegger, explain to someone who has no idea of bodybuilding what the mystery of this discipline is, what made him feel attracted to her. What appealed to me was to go see the movies of the strongest man in the world, Hercules. I said, ” Wow, is this possible? I want to see myself like this. ” I learned everything I could from Reg Park, who was three times a mister Universe and got to star in the films of Hercules thanks to his physique.
When I read his biography, I felt that I had just received the manual for my life. Practice five hours of exercise a day like him, becoming world champion bodybuilding; To become a film actor thanks to that championship; To become a movie star; Earn millions of dollars, be rich and famous …
Did you have that vision ?! Yes, I had that vision at age 15. Reg Park discovered the world for me. I was a boy born in a small town in Austria. And everything was becoming reality little by little. I became the youngest Mister Universe in history, I won 13 times the championship, they proposed to get into the movie business … And when I did, I felt I had to carry the torch to inspire millions of young people around the world.
My crusade was not just that of bodybuilding, but to convey that you can get anything that you propose. You have to have a vision, you have to believe in yourself, you have to work on a piece, you have to learn not to conform to the noes because everyone is going to tell you that it is impossible. These are the rules of success, this is what you have to do, you can do it.
But it was not easy. In his memoirs, he says that when he expressed his desire to be an actor, they laughed at you for his accent, his body … I did not care. When you have a vision, you just look ahead: on the sides you see the people laughing, at those who have doubts, but you have your objective clear. That’s why I say: do not listen to negative people, do not feel hurt because someone laughs at you.
In your last film, Maggie, you play the most vulnerable character of your entire career, is that role closer to the real Arnold Schwarzenegger? It’s part of me. We all have a vulnerable part, a victorious part, a hard part, a sweet part, or an innocent part. As in Twins, they hit twice, where I played the role of the innocent Arnold.
In Command, Predator, Terminator, you see the other Arnold, the brutal Arnold. Now I have children. I read the script and I said, “If this happened to my daughter …”.
You told the Tribeca festival that you cried when you read the script … It’s true. I began to imagine myself in that situation. How frustrating it must be for a father that everyone wants to get rid of because he has a zombie virus. When you get older, you realize many things. At 20 you do not know what it’s like to be a father. But at 60 you have already gone through all those challenges raised by children. This was a movie that I could not have done 20 years ago.
In recent times he is very active on the front of climate change. Founded in 2010 an NGO, R20 Regions of Climate Action, met a year ago with François Hollande. The decisive Paris summit is just around the corner in December: what has the world not yet understood? I think the question is: what has the environmental movement not yet communicated? Because I think the world, in the end, would understand.
When it comes to global climate change, it sounds like something from the future. And people feel more their day to day: I have to get food for my family, to pay the bills.
My complaint to the environmental community is that we must tell people that the pollution that is being created right now is killing seven million people a year. Car accidents, suicides, homicides, all that is not even close to seven million people. This is the number one cause of death today, pollution. That would have to speak and write, so everyone would be alarmed. I’ve seen it in California. When we talked about health risk, people were beginning to support environmental laws.
Speaking of California, you, as governor, moved from a more conservative political agenda to a more center-oriented one. He was, in fact, an atypical Republican. How do you see that stage now that some time has passed? You can say that is to be an atypical Republican or not. Because the republican tent is a big tent; We have people on the left, in the center, on the far right. The same thing happens in the Democratic Party.
In California, there are conservative Democrats who have not passed the environmental laws introduced by Governor Brown. I was much more practical, I felt that we should not be stuck in ideology, but it was necessary to serve people. If something had to be done, no matter if it was considered as a liberal or progressive idea, what was important was that it was a good idea. I’ve always been very open in this regard and when you do that, you have enemies on the left and on the right.
Well, but it was atypical: pro-gay, pro-abortion, environmentally conscious … And at the same time, you declared yourself heir to Milton Friedman economically … That’s right. In social matters, I was more progressive thinking, and in economic, financial and budgetary terms, I was much more conservative.
I firmly believe that we must live with the means we have; And no matter what they say, we can not spend the money we do not own because, ultimately, someone will have to pay for it. Why would we want future generations to pay for our mistakes?
You expressed your desire to be President of the United States even though it is not possible to have been born there. Still wanting it? I would be there on the set debating with the other candidates if I was born in the United States, because I think I can do it as well or better than them, and I could explain my vision of the future of America and the world.
So when I see the debates, I think it’s a shame not to be up there; At the same time, I am aware of the fact that everything I have achieved has been thanks to that country, and it is probably the only work I can not do for how the United States is, by its Constitution, so all right.
What do you think is the best candidate for the presidency? Which do you feel closest to? It is too early to say. I think they have all played better than ever. Candidates are becoming more intelligent in their approaches, in their communication. But I do not agree with 100% with any of them. A combination of all of them would give for a good candidate.
He was born in a small town in Austria, Thal, in 1947. Son of a police officer, he embraced bodybuilding as a passport to fame, and he succeeded. Conan the Barbarian, who shot in Spain in 1982 (with Jorge Sanz playing as little Conan), was his first success. With Terminator, in 1984, it burst the box office and became an icon of the hard type of peeling.
The governor of California between 2003 and 2011 believes that you can not do anything in the day if you do not get up before 5.30. It has a maxim formulated by Eleanor Roosevelt: “Every day, do something that scares you.”
The end of his term was a key moment for you, many factors came together, how did you live that stage, which, I believe, was one of the hardest in your life? What made it hard was the recession. I remember Warren Buffett told me, “Arnold, this ball is not going to bounce until after seven or eight years.” It was a disastrous time.
In her memoir, she talks about how hard those days were also as a husband [she separated from Maria Shriver, his wife of the last 12 years, when she discovered that she had a daughter as a result of her relationship with a housekeeper; He told me in Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story and some criticized him for giving so much detail, above all, for making his children to know everything.
I wonder if he regrets any of the things he did or wrote in his memoirs. No, I do not regret anything I did. I think [silence] … uh, the economy was as it was and I tried to do everything I could. It is always painful to cut back on education or healing. In the personal sphere, of course, I regret the mistakes I have made, but it is easy to see things past bull; If I could have traveled in time, I would have told myself that there are certain things that need not be done.
The Pope recently visited the United States. He asked Congress to put an end to the death penalty. What do you think? [Schwarzenegger snort; Swallow] I have always supported the death penalty. I think there are some people who are not capable of living in this world, for whatever reason: mental illness, or something that causes them to be locked up, alone in a cage, in a prison. In California there is a death penalty, people voted for it with a clear majority.
And we have it because there is a difference between those who kill a person – anyone can make mistakes, and go to jail for life, which means that at 20 years can leave – and someone who slowly mutilates bodies of women, And violates them, strangling them and burying them alive in the garbage … In cases like that, I believe that there is no reason why we should continue to feed this person, keeping it locked, what is the point? Individuals like these are better off letting them go.
And how did you deal with these situations during your governorship? They are difficult decisions. But that’s what happens when you lead a community of 38 million people. Not everyone can do this job. You receive calls at night and ask, “Do you want to forgive this person or continue with the execution?”
They are very difficult decisions, but I was prepared to take them, and I was totally convinced that I was making the right determination. We do not do that with everyone; Only with some individuals who committed heinous crimes. In any case, I fully understand the Pope.
Do you understand? Totally. Everyone fights for what is best for their position. I, as governor, represented the people and that was the best thing I could do. The Pope is in a position to speak of God, of the Church. And I listen with great pleasure to your ideas.
The interview is coming to an end. 25 minutes have passed and the first signs arrive that the 30 minutes agreed can be left in less; The press chief turns in his chair. We tackled an issue that caused controversy. In the last hours of his term, Schwarzenegger reduced the prison sentence of the son of Fabián Núñez, an influential advocate of the Democratic Party.
Young Esteban Nunez, a teenager who pleaded guilty to killing (along with Ryan Jett) to stab another young man, Luis Santos, on the streets of Los Angeles, saw his sentence reduced from 16 to 7 years by work and grace of the governor Of California. From different sectors, he was accused of submitting to the pressures of someone with good connections.
CNN made a report challenging its action in the case of Esteban Núñez. The court ruled that you did not do anything you could not do, but I would like to know what you have to say to that complaint. I do not need to say anything. I have already made statements in this regard, so I will not spend time, here in Spain, to explain something like that happened in California.
Once the interview is over, the press chief will approach us and ask us for the email address to send the statement that Schwarzenegger issued after adopting his decision. It says: “The death of Santos is tragic, and I do not rule out the gravity of the crime. (…) Given Nunez’s limited role in the murder and the absence of a criminal record, I think his sentence is disproportionate compared to that of Jett.
The lowest terms for voluntary homicide (three years) and assault with a deadly weapon (two years each) would be more appropriate in light of these differences. ” In the mail, it is added: “The governor made this decision after extensive review and investigation carried out by his legal advisers (…).
Despite the discomfort, Schwarzenegger remains seated and agrees to continue talking for another couple of minutes.
Hear, and you, at this point in life, after all you have done, what do you dream about? My dream now is to make people healthy and fit; And create the world in which we support renewable energies, in which we can live from the abundance of the sun, energy sources that allow us to dispense with oil and that pollution that kills so many people.