Hollywood action star and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says Donald Trump is "in love" with him in a new interview with Men's Health.
The Terminator actor insists this is the only possible explanation for the president's long-running feud with him, which has rumbled on ever since Arnie replaced the billionaire real estate mogul as host of NBC's The Celebrity Apprentice in 2016.
He's in love with me. That's the reality of it. With Trump, he wants to be me.
Schwarzenegger succeeded Trump on the show when the tycoon hit the campaign trail three years ago but the move was not a success.
The season suffered low ratings, prompting network executives to cancel it. When that happened, the president lashed out:
When a White House reporter quoted Trump back in July as saying, “Arnold Schwarzenegger... You know what? He died... I was there”, the actor responded:
As recently as this week, Schwarzenegger told The Washington Post the president's spate of environmental regulatory rollbacks were "un-American".
In the Men's Health piece, the star of Commando, Predator, True Lies and Total Recall speculates that Trump might have a homoerotic fascination with athletic men's bodies.
I don't think he fears me. But I remember that in the old days, when we went to the wrestling matches, the way he admired people with bodies, and the way they would jump around in the ring, and to perform physical stunts and stuff like that – he had great admiration for that.
He also tells the magazine his conversations with Trump about filmmaking and acting (anyone who has seen the Donald's cameo in Home Alone 2 will tell you he needs a few pointers):
He asked me, 'How do you do that, with the movies?' I mean, it's so believable. He drilled down to specific questions that fascinated him.
It was about 'How do you sell something?' Like, a scene. 'How do you go and act out a scene so that I get affected emotionally?'
He was fascinated by that. How do you do this when you do interviews – that you penetrate through it and you then are totally believable?'
Schwarzenegger did also express some empathy for the president, as he too struggled to adjust from life as a celebrity to that of a politician:
I always complain about Trump not being able to shift from Trump to president. Well, the reason why I say this is because I saw that with myself, that I was not able to shift from Arnold to governor.