And, in a tell-all memoir published on Monday, he insists he is “still in love” with Maria Shriver, his wife of 25 years who filed for divorce after he admitted he was the child’s father.
The Hollywood star and former California governor said the fling with the housekeeper — which produced a baby boy at almost the same time as his fourth child with Shriver — was the “stupidest” thing he had done. “The divorce is going forward, but I still have the hope that Maria and I can come back together as husband and wife and as a family with our children,” he said in his newly-published memoirs, Total Recall.
“You can call this denial, but it’s the way my mind works… I’m still in love with Maria.” In a TV interview timed with the publication of his memoirs, the former bodybuilder told how Shriver confronted him about the child the day after he left office as California governor in January 2011. He also admitted he had a habit of keeping secrets, including not telling Shriver that he was going to run for governor until days before he announced it, and trying to conceal having heart surgery from her.
Shriver filed for divorce in July last year citing “irreconcilable differences” with her husband, whom she met in 1977 and married in 1986, following him into the California governor’s mansion in 2003.
Schwarzenegger had admitted in May 2011 that he had fathered a child, born in 1997 and named Joseph, with the family’s long-time housekeeper, Mildred Baena, and announced the couple’s separation. In an interview with CBS show 60 Minutes, he said he realized when Joseph was about seven or eight that the boy resembled him physically, and while not discussing it openly, began giving the mother financial support.
The housekeeper remained in their employment, and Joseph played with the couple’s children, but Shriver’s suspicions grew and she finally confronted him the day after he left office, when they saw a marriage counselor. Shriver asked him point blank: “Hey, I think that Joseph is your kid.” He replied: “You’re absolutely correct.” She filed for divorced a few weeks later. “I think it was the stupidest thing I’ve done in the whole relationship. It was terrible. I inflicted tremendous pain on Maria and unbelievable pain on the kids,” he said.
Baena was not the first woman with whom he cheated on Shriver, he acknowledged — in the book he writes about a “hot affair” with actress Brigitte Nielsen while filming the 1985 film Red Sonja. Pressed in the CBS interview about other infidelities, he admitted: “I had others. But that’s something that’s between Maria and me.” “I’m not perfect,” said the 65-year-old.
Allegations of sexual misconduct and affairs have long dogged the Austrian-born actor turned politician, who returned to the big screen in The Expendables 2 this year, and has a number of other movies due for release. In more topical comments Schwarzenegger, a Republican but with liberal social views, said he had not yet decided whether to vote for Democrat US President Barack Obama or Republican Mitt Romney on November 6.
“I’m open-minded and I want to hear what everyone has to say,” he told Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos, noting that Obama and Romney will hold the first of three public debates on Wednesday. “I always wait until the last minute because there are some very interesting debates coming up and I think it’s always nice when you see both of the candidates next to each other and they can debate the issues.”