Skip to main content
A waxwork of Arnold Schwarzenegger at Madame Tussaud’s London, UK

How Arnie went from the Terminator to the Governator

Image Credit: RichartPhotos / | Above: A waxwork of Arnold Schwarzenegger at Madame Tussaud’s London, UK

The Austrian actor and former bodybuilder is without a doubt a star of the silver screen. But, how did one of Hollywood’s leading stars go from the Terminator to the Governator? Here are five lessons to learn for any aspiring politicians courtesy of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Dress the Part

In the 70s, the typical Schwarzenegger outfit was a pair of speedos. Clearly this wasn’t going to cut it in the world of politics, so by the 80s Arnie had stretched to a leather jacket. As the 90s came into view, a well-cut suit and tie gave the illusion of professionalism.

Start Where You Know

Arnie’s first move in politics was sitting on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, where he served from 1990 to 1993. Nominated by President George Bush, the government organisation aimed to “promote, encourage and motivate Americans of all ages to become physically active and participate in sports,” a subject Arnie knew all about.

Though he could bring real ideas to the table, this wasn’t economic policy, but fitness was his area of expertise. Dishing out advice physical wellbeing came easy, but learning the world of politics? That was just what he needed, and this was the perfect opportunity to take his first steps.

Make Powerful Friends

While being in the public eye certainly opened doors for Arnold, he couldn’t buy friends. He brushed shoulders with titans of the Republican Party, from Bush, to Reagan and John McCain, who he once described as a “good friend.”

Arnold worked hard to increase his standing in the party which gave him the platform and the support to move into a serious political role. And it didn’t stop there, his campaign team for the 2003 California Governor election included George Shultz, a former Nixon and Reagan aid, Hollywood star Rob Lowe and everyone’s favourite billionaire Warren Buffett.

Know your Audience

Since he was a small boy in Austria, Arnie had always dreamed of moving to the U.S. But the image he had wasn’t of rural Wyoming, but instead sunny California.

When he moved in 1968 at the age of 21 he headed out West, to LA. His home from 1970 to 1974 was the Gold’s Gym in Venice, and it doesn’t get much more California then Venice Beach.

So with his extensive knowledge of heat and glamour, when he decided to run for office in 2003, it was no surprise that his dipped back into the Californian Sun. The Golden State welcomed back their boy, and he served two terms there as Governor until 2011.

Be True to Who You Are

Some may have advised Arnie to drop the acting, try to suppress his past and focus on the formal world of politics, but Arnie saw that as a mistake. Instead he embraced his acting career during his political reign.

One tactic he used in the run up to the Governor election in California was to use his well-known one-liner during speeches. At the end of his first press conference Arnie delighted his audience with the line, “I’ll be back.”

So, there you have it, the rise of a political animal, the Arnie way. And who knows, if the constitution is amended to allow naturalized citizens to run for President, maybe he will be back, but this time as President.