As part of his image rehabilitation/book promotion tour, Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared on 60 Minutes in his first interview since it was revealed that he fathered a child with the family maid. The first half mainly focused on the fun aspects of being Schwarzenegger, including a visit to his childhood home turned museum and a ride in his latest absurdly large car (a Unimog by Mercedes). It’s enough to make Leslie Stahl remark that he’s “so much fun” and has such “enormous charm,” that she has to keep reminding herself about the darker side of his life. “Do you have to remind yourself? Or is it always there?” she wonders. Schwarzenegger claims, “It’s always there,” — yet those expecting a teary mea culpa from the Terminator will be disappointed.
He explains that as a bodybuilder he’d learned that, “The thing that can really make you lose is if you get emotionally unbalanced, and if I put everything that’s happening emotionally on deep freeze. So I became an expert in living in denial.” He adds that to this day, dwelling on failures is “not me.”
Early in his career this tendency to bury his emotions made it difficult for him to portray a laconic barbarian and a cyborg assassin. In his personal life it translated into repeatedly lying to his wife. He admits that he was unfaithful to Maria Shriver many times, planned to have open heart surgery without telling her, and only revealed at the last minute that he’d decided to run for governor. (He thought she’d say, “Wow, that is amazing, welcome to the club,” but she was deeply upset due to the “disappointments and tragedies” politics had brought to her family.)
Schwarzenegger seems to have accepted that he just likes to keep some things to himself, saying that it’s “the way I handle things. And it always has worked.” Though he admits, “it’s not the best thing for people around me.” He calls his affair with housekeeper Mildred Baena “the stupidest thing I’ve done in the whole relationship,” noting that he “inflicted tremendous pain on Maria and unbelievable pain on the kids.” It’s possible that he’s changed his ways, since he does take an uncharacteristic tone of regret when pressed by Stahl. “I will always look back and say, ‘How could you have done that?’” he says. However, his insistence that Shriver is “wishing me well with everything that I do,” though she’s reportedly miffed about the interview, isn’t a good sign.