The Terminator star, 75, opened up about the scandal — which resulted in the birth of his son Joseph Baena — in the new Netflix docuseries Arnold. “Maria and I went to counseling once a week,” he recalled. “In one of the sessions, the counselor said, ‘I think today Maria wants to be very specific about something. She wants to know if you are the father of Joseph.’ And … I thought my heart stopped, and then I told the truth.”
Schwarzenegger confessed to fathering a child with Mildred Baena, who worked for the actor and his family for 20 years. “She was crushed because of that,” he said of Shriver, 67.
“I had an affair in ’96,” the Kindergarten Cop star noted in the series, explaining that he “really didn’t know” for certain that Joseph was his child. “I just started feeling the older he got, the more it became clear to me and then it was really just a matter of how do you keep this quiet? How do you keep this a secret?”
The former California governor admitted that he felt “reluctant” to speak about the situation. “I think that I have caused enough pain for my family because of my f–k up,” he said. “Everyone had to suffer. Maria had to suffer. The kids had to suffer. Joseph. His mother. Everyone. … I am going to have to live with it the rest of my life.”
While Schwarzenegger referred to the affair itself as “a major failure,” he asserted that he felt “proud” of his “fantastic” son Joseph. “It was wrong what I did. But I don’t want to make Joseph feel that he is not welcomed in this world — because he is very much welcomed in this world,” he added. “I love him and he has turned out to be an extraordinary young man.”
The Austria native exchanged vows with Shriver in 1986, announcing their separation 25 years later. Shortly after news broke of the pair’s split, Schwarzenegger publicly apologized for his affair.
“There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2011. “I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry.”
Us Weekly confirmed in December 2021 that the former spouses finalized their divorce.
Over the years, both Joseph and his father have been candid about their relationship — and the time it took for them to truly bond. During a January 2022 episode of the “Unwaxed” podcast, the Dancing With the Stars alum admitted that it “took a little while” for him to feel close to his dad.
“[I didn’t want him to] be like, ‘What the heck is this guy doing? He’s just partying all the time,'” Joseph said, noting that he was often “nervous” that Schwarzenegger would “think bad of” him.
The bodybuilder went on to explain why he has a different last name from his half-siblings. “I haven’t focus[ed] on changing it. I’m doing my own thing,” he said. “I haven’t thought of it that much. I have a last name already. I’m already doing so much and succeeding and moving forward with my goals. That’s the last thing on my mind.”