Asked about what in his life and career he's most proud of — and what if anything he would do differently — Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday that he was most proud of his time as California's governor.
"Even though it was the most difficult period, it was to me the most satisfying period and the period I'm most proud of," he told TheWrap.
He didn't answer the second half of the question.
Schwarzenegger took a few questions during a Television Critics Associal panel about his new ESPN short, "Arnold's Blueprint." The 10-minute film from director Jeff Zimbalist (pictured with Schwarznegger) focuses on the future Hollywood star and governor's early years as a bodybuilder, while Schwarzenegger served in the Austrian army.
The film, which debuts Sept. 26, recounts how Schwarzenegger's fellow recruits helped him build a gym, how he was let out of tank-cleaning duty early so he could pump iron in the afternoon, and how he ate his first red meat while in the service. In one year, he gained 25 pounds. At age 20, he became the youngest winner of the Mr. Universe competition.
He said early participation in sports taught him to stay focused — whether dealing with box office returns or fellow politicians.
"From sports you learn how to stay stable and how to stay even, and to ignore those negative moments," he said. "Pick yourself up again, learn from the mistakes that you've made, but get going."
Schwarzenegger also spoke about his parents' early concerns about bodybuilding: His father wondered why he didn't chop down trees or shovel coal instead of lifting weights, so that other people could benefit from his efforts.
"My mother was always worried because she saw the pictures on my bedroom wall of naked men oiled up," Schwarzenegger said. "And so she called the… doctor and said, 'Is something wrong? Is my son turning south here?"
Schwarzenegger said that during his time in politics, he was especially proud of helping pass Propostion 49 — the Afterschool Education and Safety Act — in 2002, the year before he was elected governor. He said he was proud of rebuilding infrastructure, reforming health care, pushing stem cell research, and commiting to reductions in greenhouse gases. He did it while working with Democratic lawmakers.
His early days as an athlete helped him learn nothing was impossible, he said.
"You realize you've got to continue paying no attention to the naysayers," Schwarzenegger said. "When you learn those lessons in sport, you can apply those lessons for the rest of your life, and they will be very, very helpful. … When I went into politics, the amount of times you hear, 'It's impossible. The amount of times you hear, 'This is no way to go.' … I ignore those things because I always thought back to those early days."
He also talked about why he continues working with Sylvester Stallone, most recently in "The Expendables 2." "We're in love with each other," he said.