LOS ANGELES(AFP) – Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted he had multiple affairs during his doomed 25-year marriage to Maria Shriver, but said fathering a child with their housekeeper was the “stupidest” thing he did.
In a TV interview timed with the publication of his memoirs Monday, the former bodybuilder and Hollywood star 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 living “in denial” and 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.
“That’s the way I handle things. And it always has worked. But, I mean it does not — it’s not the best thing for people around me because I sometimes – some information I just keep to myself,” he told the CBS show “60 Minutes.”
“So I became an expert in living in denial,” he said.
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, called Joseph and born in 1997, with the family’s long-time housekeeper, Mildred Baena, and announced the couple’s separation.
In the “60 Minutes” interview, 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 his mother financial support.
The housekeeper remained in their employment, and Joseph even played with the couple’s children. But her 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,” to which 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 time he had been unfaithful to 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,” adding that Shriver knew about his behavior.
“I’m not perfect,” he said.
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 other comments Schwarzenegger, 65, told how Shriver “started shaking” when he told her he planned to run for California governor only days before his announcement in August 2003.
“I was thinking that she would say ‘Wow that is amazing, welcome to the club, we finally convinced you to be a public servant’,” he said, referring to the storied Kennedy political dynasty, of which she was a member.
Her objections were only overcome after intervention from his mother-in-law Eunice Shriver, who warned her that Schwarzenegger would be angry at her if she prevented him from running.
Schwarzenegger said Shriver had not read the book, called “Total Recall” after the 1990 blockbuster. Asked what he thought Shriver’s view would be, he said: “I think that Maria’s wishing me well with everything that I do.”
There was no immediate word comment from representatives for Shriver.