Whenever he stands in front of the mirror, Arnold strikes the same pose: three-quarter profile, narrowed eyes and clenched jaw. His facial features haven’t changed: well-defined, high cheekbones and a sculpted mouth. His once youthful ruffle of rebel hair has given way to a more sober, clean cut.
Likewise, his body no longer displays his once-famous sculptured physique. His shirts now fit comfortably without bursting at the buttons, although since he has taken up gym again he is pleased to see that his jacket is slightly tight around his shoulders. He’s never been one to stay idle, although his political commitments meant no heavy training. However, that has changed now that he’s back in the film business. His two terms as Governor of California kept him busy and far from Hollywood, but he is as determined as ever. Indeed, he owes his successful career above all to his tenacity.
There are times during the day when he recalls his life as a boy in a rural village in the Austrian Alps where he was born. A time when, having no money, he built his own weights from scratch, a time when his grueling body-building workouts to chisel his body expressed his constant burning desire to flee to freedom and his obsession with America. In the end, he achieved his goal, and with only few dollars in his pocket and fractured English, he got there in the late 1960s. A lot happened between his early body-building competition triumphs and his first appearance on the big screen, when he had to be dubbed because of his strong Austrian accent, but what runs through each stage of his life is his great tenacity. He always knew he would fulfill his dream to emigrate thousands of miles to the New World, leaving behind a small Austrian community and modest family. Only in America could this dream come true. Arnold hardly ever looks back with nostalgia, but only forward. Nevertheless, he knows that he owes his success to all the small things that have led him there, including his pipe. He has been familiar with pipes since he was a boy in Thal, where there were two certainties each day: the comforting Alpine panorama, and passing someone on the road who greeted you with a pipe raised, as if he were raising a glass to make a toast. A toast to slowness, to the peace and quiet that only a small community can offer.
In August 1984, only a few months before becoming Terminator and launching his Hollywood career, Arnold decided to go to Dallas to attend the Republican Party convention, thereby setting in motion events where his pipe would have its place. Nobody noticed the man in a suit and tie who jostled his way through the crowd to shake hands with the President. This occasion is immortalized in a photograph, where he is standing smiling next to a man who would become much more than a chance encounter, a man who would indeed become his mentor, and that man was Ronald Reagan. Needless to say, he was also a former actor from Tampico, a small provincial town with a dream to do something on a grand scale. Arnold seemed to follow the same script as Reagan. Following a long successful film career, launched by James Cameron’s film where Arnold plays the most famous cyborg in film history, he decided to enter into politics and run for governor in California, just like Reagan. He went on to serve two terms as Governor, again just like Reagan. From Terminator to Governator in a short time, again the two actors’ lives were similar. Indeed, it is no coincidence that what they have in common, apart from their great determination, is their contact with something that reminded them of their modest roots: their pipes.