Schwarzenegger ponders next role as political term ends

LOS ANGELES—The Terminator always said he’d be back.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is sifting through a stack of corporate, movie and real estate offers as the celebrity politician nears a career crossroad: On Monday, he’s out of a job.

His next act? After seven years as governor of California, the former body builder and film star will, by his own account, hit the speech circuit, keep a hand in political activism and possibly write the autobiography that publishers have wanted him to do for years.

The Austrian-born Schwarzenegger says he even might get back into acting if the right script comes along — presumably one appropriate for a 63-year-old father of four with political baggage, advancing age lines and a tinge of grey.

“Will I still have the patience to sit on the set and to do a movie for three months or for six months, all of those things? I don’t know,” the Republican governor tweeted in October in a rare exchange about his plans.

A spokesman says Schwarzenegger is sorting out “an absolute flood of every conceivable offer” from the corporate world, real estate ventures and the entertainment industry, but he insists he won’t make any decisions until after he surrenders the office to successor Jerry Brown.

“I don’t have a plan,” Schwarzenegger told hundreds of supporters and staffers at a private farewell party on Thursday.

He was less guarded in October, when, along with plans for speeches and a book or two, he hinted broadly at a continuing role in the environment and political reforms.

“There are a lot of important things that I want to say,” he tweeted. “My struggle for reform will continue, my belief in environmental issues and in protecting the environment will continue.”

One thing is certain: The multimillionaire Schwarzenegger will start earning money after passing up his $174,000 (U.S.) salary throughout his two terms. His time in office left him with plenty of political welts, but the biggest hit was on his own wallet.

State records show Schwarzenegger poured at least $25 million into two campaigns for governor and other political ventures since 2001 — no small sum even for an actor who once got $30 million a film.

That doesn’t include travel costs. He often commuted from Los Angeles to Sacramento several times a week in a private jet at his own expense. He and his family never moved to Sacramento, preferring their secluded canyon estate a few kilometres from the Pacific Ocean.

His assets have been held in a private trust since he took office in 2003, but he can return to managing his portfolio, deep in real estate holdings, after stepping down.

His Hollywood future will be the subject of endless speculation. Hollywood insiders say he could take a role as producer or director, but don’t look for him to reappear as a hulking action hero.

“He’s a wealthy and clever man. Wealthy and clever men have lots of possibilities,” said long-time Hollywood publicist Michael Levine.

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