Albertina Lloyd chats to Arnold Schwarzenegger about his new revenge thriller, Sabotage
ARNOLD Schwarzenegger appears to be in a hurry. A consummate professional, the former politician is polite but firm as he sits bolt upright in a plush hotel room, while his busy entourage fills the corridor, making phone calls and checking the time.
"We're ready, let's go!" he barks, evidently keen to get down to the business of promoting his new revenge thriller Sabotage, in which he plays the head of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration).
He and his team (including Sam Worthington as James "Monster" Murray and Joe Manganiello as Joe "Grinder" Phillips) decide to steal a stack of cash while busting a drugs cartel, but one member betrays the others and the money disappears. As the cartel begins to hunt the bounty down, one-by-one the list of suspects is whittled down in a trail of gratuitous blood and gore.
"I enjoyed doing the movie because it was not a typical action movie, he's a flawed hero," explains Schwarzenegger, dwarfing the room with his vast bulk, his huge hands palm down on his muscle-bound legs. "It's someone who starts out as this heroic guy and is the leader of this DEA SWAT team. But as the cartel look for revenge, they not only whack my own guys but they also wipe out my family. That's when he decides to cross the line."
In Sabotage, his character Breacher has a weakness for the flesh, falling for the tough cop investigating the murders of his squad, played by Olivia Williams.
While he admits everybody has their weaknesses, physical fitness is not something this star is prepared to compromise on, even at the age of 66.
And he's already hit the gym.
"The first thing I did [when I got here] was workout, and then the second thing I did was to have some good British desserts, so that I gained the weight back after working out," he adds, chuckling.
The Austrian-born star harboured the ambition of moving to the US from the age of 10, and saw bodybuilding as a way in.
After winning his first Mr Universe title in London in 1967, he achieved his dream of moving to America where he continued to work as a professional bodybuilder.
It wasn't long before he'd set his sights on a movie career.
"I was told I'd never get into bodybuilding. I was told I'd never make it in the movie business.
"I never listened to them, and I went on to have a successful career," he says, grinning triumphantly.
His big Hollywood break was playing Conan, in 1982's Conan The Barbarian, before landing the iconic role of Terminator in James Cameron's 1984 thriller.
He went on to star in a string of action movies, including The Running Man and Total Recall, and proved himself equally able to carry comedy in hits such as Kindergarten Cop and Junior.
In 2003, he announced he would be standing for Governor of California and was elected and held the position for two terms.
"My mission was to step out of acting, become Governor of California and run for that office, because I feel I've better answers in making the state a better state and a better place to live," he explains.
"I didn't want to be a career politician after I ran for Governor – run for senate or for congress or anything like that.
"My goal was to be a bodybuilding champion, to get into movies, to be a leading man. Then to give back to the community as much as I can, which led to becoming Governor of California."
He eased himself back into screen work with cameos in friend Sylvester Stallone's franchise about ageing action heroes, The Expendables, and after Sabotage, he has The Expendables 3 and Terminator: Genesis to promote.
"To be a public servant, it was the greatest honour, the greatest pleasure, to have the trust of the people and to work on behalf of the people. But I always knew that after that I was going to go back to acting and continue my regular job."