Muscle-bound Hollywood action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided to opt out of the 2002 race to become California's governor.

Schwarzenegger, 53, told the Los Angeles Times in Wednesday's newspaper that his film career and family have taken precedence over politics.

"I have to be selfish at this point ... and take care of those things," the actor said. "The movie projects came together. ... I have to keep up my end of the deal. It's not like it could have gone this way or that."

Schwarzenegger for months had been considering making a run for governor in 2002 as a Republican. He said that he was not abandoning the idea of running for office, but only postponing his plunge into politics until his four children, ages 3 to 11, are older.

Schwarzenegger, who has campaigned for Republican candidates, shares moderate views on gun control and abortion rights that match those of most California voters.

Schwarzenegger, whose film credits include Hercules in New York, Total Recall and End of Days, has two films projects in the works. He said he will focus on finishing a sequel to True Lies and production will begin later this year on Terminator III.

A publicist last month said Schwarzenegger would not make a bid for the governor's office because of family and film obligations. A retraction was issued the next day by the publicist because Schwarzenegger had not yet made up his mind.

Incumbent Democrat Gray Davis likely will seek a second term and so far faces no serious threat from within the party.

Secretary of State Bill Jones, a Republican, already has declared his candidacy and William E. Simon Jr., a Los Angeles investment banker, also is considering mounting a GOP challenge for the governor's office.