Arnold Schwarzenegger still loves his estranged wife, Maria Shriver, and speaks to her everyday on the phone, he revealed Monday night on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
The appearance by the movie star and former two-term governor of California had none of the comedy usually associated with the guest segments on “Tonight,” as Jay Leno asked Schwarzenegger a series of very serious questions about the scandal that has broken up his family and stained his reputation.
Schwarzenegger came on the show as part of his ongoing tour to promote his new memoir, “Total Recall,” in which he writes candidly about fathering a son with a housekeeper and then keeping the affair a secret from his wife.
“Suppose it had been the other way around,” Leno said. “Suppose you’d found out a child was not yours? How would you have reacted?”
“Exactly the same as she has reacted,” Schwarzenegger answered. “I think it’s human nature you would be angry, you would be disappointed, all of those things and … Look, I know the pain that I have inflicted on her and I also know that she did not deserve that and that she always was an extraordinary wife and an unbelievable mother and a great partner and adviser … This was my screw-up. It’s inexcusable and I just hope that she will forgive me and the kids will forgive me for the mistakes that I’ve made.”
“The New York Times called your book tour an apology tour,” Leno said. “Do you feel that way? Is that what it is, an apology tour?”
“No, you know me,” Schwarzenegger said. “I promote the things that I am involved with. I have been promoting bodybuilding for the last 50 years and I have been promoting my movies and I have promoted my books that I have come out with. This is what I do.”
Leno noted that Schwarzenegger’s book, in which an entire chapter titled “The Secret” is devoted to the sex scandal that has devastated his wife and children, is dedicated to his family.
“You dedicate it to your family,” Leno said. “Does that seem ironic in light of … ?”
“It may be,” Schwarzenegger conceded. “But the bottom line is I always have loved my family more than anything else and I always will. I’ve gotten so much help from my family, so much energy, and it was such a great team. That’s why it is even more painful, what I have taken my family through and the pain that I have caused my family, my children and my wife and everybody.”
“Are you still in love with Maria?” Leno asked.
“I am very much in love with her,” Schwarzenegger answered. “I always will love her. Absolutely.”
“Do you want to win her back? What do you have to do?” Leno asked.
“I talk to Maria pretty much everyday. I talk to my children almost everyday and we work very hard. I talked to Maria today. We were talking about what a great job we had done together — even though with this huge disaster that I’ve created — by raising the kids and trying to reduce the effect that [the scandal] has had on the kids.”
Schwarzenegger, 65, who’s known for his macho action movies, said he met his match when he came up against veteran journalist Lesley Stahl, 70, on “60 Minutes.”
“How do you think you came off?” Leno asked Schwarzenegger about the “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sept. 30.
“When I started watching it, I felt really great,” he replied. “They talked about my career and they talked about, you know, the immigrant story, about the show business and bodybuilding, and they had shots of all these different things, and politics and so on. But then when they got to the scandal, you know, I tell you it was very tough to do the interview and to be questioned by Lesley Stahl. It was probably even more painful to watch it. It’s embarrassing, the whole thing. It’s very embarrassing to go through this … but it is my fault, it’s my doing and I have to bear the consequences of that and it isn’t easy.”
We happen to have the “60 Minutes” Schwarzenegger interview in two parts.