SEOUL, South Korea – For his first starring role since before serving as California’s governor for seven years, Arnold Schwarzenegger says he was looking for a film with universal appeal.

In “The Last Stand,” Schwarzenegger plays the sheriff of an Arizona town tasked with stopping a Mexican cartel boss from returning to Mexico. It’s the 65-year-old’s first leading role since “Terminator 3″ a decade ago.

He said in Seoul on Wednesday that he tries to pick projects that “could be popular not only in America, but all over the world.”

“The Last Stand,” the debut Hollywood film of South Korean director Kim Jee-woon, opens in Seoul on Thursday. Schwarzenegger recalled his memories of South Korea from his bodybuilding days, saying “it’s a major player in the world stage economically and in every other way.”