The 75-year-old actor reflected on his breakup from Shriver after 25 years of marriage during a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Prior to splitting in 2011, the pair welcomed four children, who are now adults: Katherine, 33, Christina, 31, Patrick, 29, and Christopher, 25. Shortly before their divorce, Schwarzenegger publicly revealed that he fathered a son, Joseph Bena, with his family’s housekeeper, Mildred Baena.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, The Terminator star reflected on the breakup and said that, while he doesn’t miss being married, he still has a lot of love for Shriver.
“[The divorce] was very, very difficult in the beginning,” he said. “Eventually, you move on. I have a wonderful girlfriend, [physical therapist] Heather Milligan, who is very successful. I’m really proud of her, and I love her. At the same time, I love my wife. She and I are really good friends and very close, and we are very proud of the way we raised our kids.”
The actor also said that, despite the “drama” his family faced, they still celebrate holidays together. He then made the claim that he and Shriver deserve an award for how they prioritised their children during their divorce.
“We did Easter together, Mother’s Day together, the Christmases together, all birthdays - everything together,” Schwarzenegger said. “If there’s Oscars for how to handle divorce, Maria and I should get it for having the least amount of impact on the kids. The sweetness and kindness you see in them, that’s from my wife. The discipline and work ethic is from me.”
During the interview, he was also asked if his new show, Furbar, was “deliberately autobiographical,” since his character is going through a divorce after he cheated on his spouse. In response, Schwarzenegger said that, while he “laughed” about the situation and said the plot somewhat “feels like a documentary,” that isn’t actually the case.
“The difference is, in the show, he doesn’t consider it cheating because [seducing CIA assets] was part of his profession,” he explained. “His wife moved on because he never was home, and now he has this dilemma with the daughter because she has the same job and it’s going to screw up her relationship, too.”
Schwarzenegger then acknowledged his regrets about his own marriage, adding: “But in [my real-life marriage to Shriver], it was my f***up. It was my failure. Also, in the show, he’s deep down still in love with his wife.”
This isn’t the first time that the actor has referred to his divorce as a failure. During an appearance on The Howard Stern Show in 2015, Schwarzenegger spoke about the infidelity scandal and acknowledged that he was the one “to blame for it”.
“I had personal setbacks, but this was, without any doubt, the biggest setback and the biggest failure,” he said. “Without any doubt. Not only failure, but you feel like: ‘I’m to blame for it. It was me that screwed up.’ And you can’t point the finger at anyone else. So yeah, I was disappointed in it. It’s always easy to be smart in hindsight. The thing was, how do you make the best of that situation?”
At the time, he also shared that he and Shriver went to see a therapist, but that it wasn’t helpful for him.
“It was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made,’’ he said. “That guy was so full of s***. He said more crap and more nonsense. It was absolutely counterproductive to our future relationship.”
Shriver also opened up about the divorce earlier this year during an episode of Hoda Kotb’s Making Space podcast. She said that after her marriage ended, she went to a convent to “be in silence and look for advice” and recalled the important thing that the Reverend Mother told her.
“She says: ‘You can’t come live here, but you do have permission to go out and become Maria.’ I was like, sobbing,” she recalled during the episode, which aired in February. “I had never given myself permission to feel, to be vulnerable, to be weak, to be brought to my knees, and the world did it to me.”
Shriver said she took the advice seriously, adding: “And then I was like: ‘Okay, God, let’s go. I’m gonna take this and learn everything I can about my role and what I need to learn.’”