Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t dodge tough questions during his big 60 Minutes interview last night — not even when Lesley Stahl asked him about his father’s stint as a Nazi stormtrooper. (The Governator said that growing up, talk of World War II was basically verboten — he didn’t learn about his father’s past until “much later.”)
After showing the newswoman around his childhood home in Austria, chatting briefly about using steroids during his bodybuilding days, and claiming that movie studios originally thought he couldn’t be a sex symbol like, say, that hottie Woody Allen (wait, whaa?) Arnold finally got to the topic most people are most curious about — his relationship with Maria Shriver.
After eight years with Shriver, Schwarzenegger strayed from his longtime girlfriend by having an affair with co-star Brigitte Nielsen while filming Red Sonja in the mid-’80s. (Younger folks will know Nielsen as the one who showmanced her “Foofy” Flavor Flav.) Schwarzenegger was fairly unapologetic while discussing the affair, both on 60 Minutes and, apparently, in his new memoir Total Recall. “You cheated on Maria,” Stahl pointed out, “and you don’t even write that you felt bad about it. You just write it.”
“Actually, you know, I did feel bad about it,” Schwarzenegger answered calmly. “But all of my different things — they were mistakes, and, you know, my failure. My screw-ups.” He went on to admit that his dalliance with Nielsen was far from his only indiscretion; there were various other affairs, of which he claimed that Shriver was aware. All this came in Part 1 of the interview, which you can watch here:
In Part 2, it became clear that Schwarzenegger was an expert at keeping secrets from his wife, or at least trying to. He had clandestine open heart surgery in Mexico in 1995, and he didn’t tell Shriver that he was running for governor of California until a few days before he publicly declared his candidacy.
By this point, Arnold had already had the affair with housekeeper Mildred Baena that resulted in a son, Joseph; it would be years before Maria forced her husband to admit the truth. Schwarzenegger himself said that he didn’t know Joseph was his child until the kid was 7 or 8 years old. (“He started looking like me, so that’s when I sort of got it,” said the star.)
Stahl asked if the extra funds Schwarzenegger gave Baena were intended to be “hush money,” but Schwarzenegger shot her down. “I don’t think that Mildred was at all into talking. You know, Mildred is a good person. She was not out to get me or to take advantage.” Having her continue to work for him was “difficult, strange, bizarre, whatever you want to call it,” but it was also “the best way I could handle it.”
But the journalist didn’t let the ex-governor stop there. She pointed out that Shriver had vouched for Schwarzenegger’s character on the campaign trail, and that she had given up her television career for him: “Was this just the most unbelievable act of betrayal?” she asked. “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,” Schwarzenegger answered, finally sounding sort of sorry for his actions. Check out the second segment below.
Total Recall releases today.