Schwarzenegger: Simple Austrian upbringing made me green

VIENNA Fri Feb 1, 2013 9:23pm IST

Former Californian Governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers a speech during the opening session of the R20 - Regions of Climate Action conference in Vienna January 31, 2013. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

Former Californian Governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers a speech during the opening session of the R20 - Regions of Climate Action conference in Vienna January 31, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader

VIENNA (Reuters) - Arnold Schwarzenegger credited his simple upbringing amid the lakes and hills of Austria for a recent conversion to fully fledged green activism, the latest stage in his varied career.

The former body-builder, star of the "Terminator" action films and governor of California grew up in Thal, a small village in the Austrian province of Styria, and emigrated to the United States at the age of 21.

"Growing up in my house, we knew about sustainability before it was hip. We called it 'necessity'," Schwarzenegger told an environmental conference he hosted in Vienna this week.

"We didn't have video games, televisions or iPhones. We had the rolling hills, the castles, the ruins, and the beautiful lakes," he said. "Even after I made it big and became governor of California, I held on to this love of nature."

The "governator" - who left office and split with his wife of 25 years, Maria Shriver in 2011, has recently returned to making action movies - expressed surprise at the turn his life had taken, after he had thought all his ambitions fulfilled.

"When I was a little boy in Austria, all I could think about was moving to America, to become the greatest bodybuilder champion in the world and make millions of dollars and be an action hero," said Schwarzenegger.

"My dream became reality. Who knew my greatest achievement would be in the real world fighting for a green energy future? Green energy wasn't even in my vocabulary."

(Reporting by Derek Brooks; Writing by Georgina Prodhan, editing by Paul Casciato)

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