Famed for such Hollywood blockbusters as The Running Man, True Lies, Last Action Hero and the Terminator, the muscular movie star announced his decision to contest the October elections on Wednesday.

The statement, made during the Tonight Show hosted by Jay Leno, took political pundits by surprise as many had believed the actor had put his political ambitions on hold.

“It was a very difficult decision to make, one the most difficult decisions I have made in my entire life,” the 56-year old star said.

But he pledged to terminate the political career of the sitting Californian governor with choreographed ease.

The Austrian-born former Mr Universe said he had decided to run in the October polls because the Democratic governor,  Gray Davis was letting down the people by allowing the economy to deteriorate to a disastrous level.

“The man that is failing the people more than anyone is Gray Davis,” the multi-million dollar star said.

“I want to clean up the state capital Sacramento. I want the people to make decisions,” he added.

His announcement brings the curtains down on a period of frenzied speculation about his political plans.

Schwarzenegger would be the second movie star to vie for Californian governorship, after ex-president Ronald Reagan.

'It was a very difficult decision to make, one the most difficult decisions I have made in my entire life'-Arnold  Schwarzenegger

The Hollywood star said he decided to run against political advice because of what he termed the state’s perilous economic situation and mismanagement by the present governor.

“California is in a very disastrous situation right now,” he said.

The actor insisted he was up to the job. “We all know that I know how to sell something. I have the energy, I have the intelligence, I have the know how.”

He said he took the decision after intense talks with his wife, his four young children, his advisers and supporters.

The electoral race could pit Republican Schwarzenegger against porn mogul and Democratic contender, Larry Flynt.