In an intimate discussion with The Hollywood Reporter, the former governor of California characterizes the split as "my failure", giving a candid account of his feelings, regrets, and the enduring love he still holds for his ex-wife.
The actor has found a peculiar echo of his own experiences in the character he embodies in his latest Netflix CIA series, FUBAR.
The narrative of his character, Luke, carries a striking similarity to The Terminator star’s own marital history, particularly with respect to infidelity.
In fact, just two months before Maria filed for divorce in July 2011, it was revealed that Arnold had fathered a child with his former housekeeper, Mildred Baena, who had been with his family for nearly 20 years.
His extra-marital affair resulted in the birth of his son, Joseph, with whom he now maintains a close relationship.
Click the video below to watch the Hollywood star's reaction after being asked about the affair in an interview with ABC News...
In a moment of self-reflection, Arnold told The Hollywood Reporter: "We were laughing about it — it feels like it's a documentary.
“The difference is, in the show, he doesn't consider it cheating because [seducing CIA assets] was part of his profession. But in [my real-life marriage to Shriver], it was my failure. Also, in the show, he's deep down still in love with his wife."
When questioned about missing the institution of marriage, the former bodybuilder gave a firm "No," adding: "[The divorce] was very, very difficult in the beginning. 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."
The former couple, despite their differences, have created an amicable co-parenting environment for their children.
Arnold praised their shared parenting successes, saying: "She and I are really good friends and very close, and we are very proud of the way we raised our kids.
“Even though we had this drama, we did Easter together, Mother's Day together, the Christmases together, all birthdays — everything together."
"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," he proudly noted.
The former couple shares four children – daughters Katherine, 33, and Christina, 31, and sons Patrick, 29, and Christopher, 25.
Earlier this year, Maria herself spoke out about their breakup. She revealed that following the end of their marriage, she sought refuge and advice in a cloistered convent.
The veteran TV journalist reflected on the heartbreak, revealing she visited a convent shortly after their breakup "to be in silence and look for advice." Maria, who is a member of the Kennedy family, made the candid revelation on the latest episode of the Making Space with Hoda Kotb podcast, describing her experience as "a scene out of The Sound of Music," to the Today star.
Maria confessed: "The Reverend Mother there said to me at the very end, she said — and I actually have written about this, but I haven't shared — she said, 'I think you came here looking for permission.' She says, 'You can't come live here, but you do have permission to go out and become Maria.' I was like, sobbing. I was like, 'Who is that?' "
Their divorce was finalized in December 2021, a decade after their separation was announced.
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