Skip to content

Arnold Schwarzenegger Reveals How Maria Shriver First Confronted Him About His Affair

The actor fathered a son with their family's housekeeper.

One of the biggest Hollywood scandals of the 21st century was the reveal that Arnold Schwarzenegger had cheated on Maria Shriver with a woman, Mildred Baena, who worked in their home. The actor also secretly fathered a son, Joseph Baena, when he and the housekeeper were together. The scandal became public in 2011 when the couple announced their separation. At this point, Schwarzenegger had only just finished serving as governor of California, and he revealed the family drama in a statement.

Now, in his new Netflix docuseries Arnold, Schwarzenegger is opening up further about the affair, including the way Shriver first confronted him about it. Read on to find out how she became suspicious and how he handled it when he finally decided to reveal the truth.

READ THIS NEXT: Gregory Peck Revealed His Affair With This Co-Star, Years After She Died.

Shriver asked Schwarzenegger about Joseph in therapy.

According to People, in the docuseries (out June 7), Schwarzenegger shares that Shriver questioned him about being Joseph's father when they were in couples therapy.

"Maria and I went to counseling once a week, and 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,'" Schwarzenegger recalls. "And I was like—I thought my heart stopped, and then I told the truth."

"'Yes, Maria, Joseph is my son,'" he says that he told her.

He knew that it was becoming obvious.

Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger at the premiere of "Terminator 3" in 2003
DFree / Shutterstock

Mildred and Schwarzenneger's son was born in 1997, so he was already a teenager by 2011. The Terminator star says in the documentary that he didn't always know that he was Joseph's father, but that it became more and more obvious as the boy grew up.

"She was crushed because of that," Schwarzenegger says of his ex-wife having her suspicions confirmed. "I had an affair in '96. In the beginning I really didn't know. 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?"

He explains in the docuseries that he didn't really want to talk about the affair again, because it "opens up the wounds." He adds, "I think that I have caused enough pain for my family because of my [expletive] up. Everyone had to suffer. Maria had to suffer. The kids had to suffer. Joseph. His mother. Everyone."

For more celebrity news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Schwarzenegger made the connection when Baena was young.

During a 2012 interview with 60 Minutes, Schwarzenegger said that he realized Joseph was his son when he was around seven or eight years old. The actor explained (via People) that when his housekeeper's son "started looking like [him], that's when [he] kind of got it."

At this point, Mildred was still working in Schwarzenegger and Shriver's home, and he began to provide for Mildred and Joseph financially outside of paying her as an employee.

"It was very difficult, strange, bizarre," Schwarzenegger told 60 Minutes. "I just said to myself, 'Okay, I'm going to put this away.'"

He said in this interview that the counseling session in which the affair was revealed took place after his term as governor ended in January 2011.

Shriver called the betrayal "painful and heartbreaking."

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver at the premiere of "Collateral Damage" in 2002
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

In May 2011, Schwarzenegger confirmed the affair in a statement to the Los Angeles Times not long after he and Shriver announced their breakup.

"After leaving the governor's office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago," the statement reads. "I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry."

While Schwarzenegger has spoken publicly about the ordeal several times, Shriver has largely kept her feelings private. Soon after the news broke, she said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, "This is a painful and heartbreaking time. As a mother, my concern is for the children. I ask for compassion, respect and privacy as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal. I will have no further comment."

Schwarzenegger and Shriver have four children together: Katherine, Christina, Christopher, and Patrick Schwarzenegger, who are now in their 20s and 30s.

Schwarzenegger and Joseph are close.

In the years since the affair was revealed, Schwarzenegger and Joseph have developed a close relationship, and Joseph has followed in his father's footsteps as a bodybuilder and actor.

"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," Schwarzenegger says in the new docuseries. "I love him and he has turned out to be an extraordinary young man."

Schwarzenegger also says that he's proud of how he and his ex-wife have continued to co-parent their children together.

"There is nothing more important than to have a good partner by your side, and every step of the way Maria was that," he explains. "We have a really great relationship. Any type of special day, we are all together as a family. But it's not what it was when we were all together under one roof as a family. That's not the case anymore."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
Filed Under