Many pundits agree that Schwarzenegger's action-star status helped propel him to an astonishing victory Tuesday. Lynne Luciano, a professor of history at California State University at Dominguez Hills who wrote Looking Good: The Male Body in Modern America, told the New York Times Tuesday that the recall was custom-made for a "youth-driven culture based on first impressions."
Sociologist and author Arlie R. Hochschild, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, told The Times that in a time of economic distress and fearfulness, the actor's candidacy represented a rescue fantasy.
But while fantasy may have helped Schwarzenegger get elected to office, could politics end his career as a Hollywood action star? So far, the 56-year-old actor has not said whether he will maintain ties in Hollywood.
"If Arnold served as governor and did his thing, then if he decided to go back to Hollywood, I think he would be welcomed with open arms in the community, Yaphet Kotto, Schwarzenegger's co-star in the 1987 film The Running Man told The Associated Press today. "He's such a competitor, he could go right from politics to making movies."
But time, according to AP movie writer David Germain, could be Schwarzenegger's biggest barrier. If the actor, who is now tied to the governor's job for the remaining three years of Gray Davis's term, returns to moviemaking in 2006, he would be past the age of a feasible action hero.
As it stands, Schwarzenegger's last actioner, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, has grossed $150 million domestically--barely half of what the second installment, 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day earned.
Some celebrities, however, have fared well in both the political and entertainment arenas. Take Clint Eastwood, whose latest directorial effort, Mystic River, is already garnering Oscar buzz. Eastwood, 70, won a landslide victory as mayor of Carmel, California, in the mid 1980s and served for two years.
"If he makes a good movie, it'll do well. If he makes one that doesn't capture the imagination of people, it won't do well," Eastwood told the AP. "It'll have nothing to do with running."