It doesn’t seem as if five minutes have passed since the tabloids found out that Arnold Schwarzenegger had fathered an illegitimate son. But, in fact, it’s been over seven years since Joseph Baena became arguably the world’s most famous love child. And the now-grown man takes after his famous pop in more ways than one.
Way before Joseph was born, however, Schwarzenegger caught the world’s attention as a champion bodybuilder. He was crowned Mr. Universe aged just 20, for instance; and, by the end of his sporting career, the future actor had won Mr. Olympia an impressive seven times. Now, one of the world’s most prestigious bodybuilding contests, the Arnold Sports Festival, is named after the star.
Then, having conquered the world of bodybuilding, Schwarzenegger set his sights on Hollywood. And he made a name for himself there, too; indeed, after his 1982 breakthrough in Conan the Barbarian, he went on to become one of the most bankable action stars around. The Terminator, Commando, The Running Man, Predator, Total Recall and True Lies are just a handful of the big box-office hits that were to follow, all of which boasted Schwarzenegger as the lead.
But Schwarzenegger would change course yet again when he abandoned his film career for a life in politics. In 2003 he was sworn in as the governor of California – a position he held until 2011. The man dubbed “The Governator” would later admit that he would run for president if he were a natural-born U.S. citizen.
Then, just a year after leaving office, Schwarzenegger made a big-screen comeback in The Expendables 2. He later landed leading roles in The Last Stand, Escape Plan, Sabotage and Terminator Genysis. In 2015, meanwhile, he replaced Donald Trump as the new host of The Celebrity Apprentice, although he only lasted a single season on the hit reality show.
However, while Schwarzenegger’s career had seemingly zigzagged everywhere, his personal life initially appeared to be more settled. In 1986 he had married Maria Shriver, a TV journalist who also happened to be JFK’s niece. The pair then went on to have four children together: Katherine, Christina, Patrick and Christopher. But in the year of Schwarzenegger and Shriver’s silver wedding anniversary, the couple split.
Then, shortly after news of the separation had broken, the Los Angeles Times reported that Schwarzenegger had fathered an illegitimate child with his housekeeper, Mildred Baena, 14 years previously. As a result, the star released a statement revealing that he’d confessed all to his wife after leaving office. He did, however, leave out any suggestion that Shriver had confronted him first, after her suspicions had been confirmed by Mildred herself.
Nevertheless, Schwarzenegger insisted that he had no idea that Joseph was his son until at least seven years after the child was born. The actor reportedly only began putting two and two together, in fact, after realizing that he and the boy shared more than a passing resemblance. In 2010, then, he allegedly bought a four-bedroom property for Joseph and his mother.
And both Joseph and Guatemala-born Mildred spoke to Hello! magazine shortly after the scandal emerged in 2011. Furthermore, it was revealed in the interview that Joseph’s grandmother was given the responsibility of telling him about his famous father. But far from being shocked, the boy simply responded, “Cool!”
Mildred also alleged that Schwarzenegger had previously never talked to her about the possibility of Joseph being his child. She was still able to sympathize with the actor, though, adding, “He’s a good man, and I know he’s suffering too. He loves Maria. I hope with time they work things out.”
Then, in the wake of the scandal, Schwarzenegger’s Red Heat co-star Brigitte Nielsen also claimed that she had once been romantically involved with the married actor. This affair may have been alluded to in a 2014 interview with Schwarzenegger; during this, when asked about the things he was least proud of in his life, the actor had replied, “The mistakes I made that caused my family pain and split us up.” And, as it happens, his and Shriver’s relationship couldn’t be salvaged: the couple eventually divorced in 2017, six years after their separation.
However, while speaking to Men’s Journal in 2017, Schwarzenegger would claim that he’d since “repaired the damage” with all of his kids – even Joseph. In fact, the star stated that he has since built up a “healthy relationship” with the Pepperdine University student, now in his early 20s. And evidence of that has seemingly emerged in several social media posts, which also highlight just how alike Joseph and his dad look.
The week after he turned 20, for example, Joseph could be seen pumping iron alongside his dad in an image on Schwarzenegger’s Instagram account. That post also included a caption that read, “Happy birthday Joseph! You’re a fantastic son and a great training partner. You get stronger and smarter every year, and I’m so proud of you. I love you.”
And, the year previously, the pair had also been seen sharing a drink at Germany’s Oktoberfest. But it was during a bike ride in California in the summer of 2016 that the pair’s uncanny likeness first sent the internet into overdrive. Referring to the hit 1980s comedy Twins, Entertainment Tonight commented, “Sorry Danny DeVito, looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger has a for-real twin now.”
And Joseph seems more than happy to follow in his father’s bodybuilding footsteps, too. In fact, the pair appear to have become regular workout buddies, judging by the amount of times that they’ve been snapped at or near the gym together. The young man also enjoys playing rugby and roughhousing with his fraternity brothers at Alpha Tau Omega.
But it’s not yet clear whether Joseph will be popping up on the big screen any time soon. When asked by TMZ in 2017 whether he was interested in pursuing an acting career, he replied non-committally, “I mean, we’ll see. I have no idea.”
And his father was similarly vague when asked by TMZ whether his son had what it takes to follow in his acting and political footsteps. First, the Austrian Oak replied in his native tongue. And then when his answer was translated, it read, “You always ask me questions that I can’t answer.”
However, Joseph has already appeared in front of the camera imitating one of his father’s most iconic performances. Specifically, in 2016 he recreated the “Bad to the Bone” scene from The Terminator 2 for a short film directed by friend Ben Hess. There, Joseph can be seen climbing on and off a motorbike, grabbing a gun from a bartender and putting on a pair of shades.
And Joseph’s love life has also been a subject of press attention since he’s entered the spotlight. But he’s firmly off the market for the time being, as he’s currently dating fellow college student Savannah Wix. Wix is an integrated marketing communications major who’s also the CEO of Pepperdine Theta.
Regardless of what the future holds for him, though, Joseph is currently occupied by studying for a business management at Pepperdine. He’s also been honored by the Malibu university for his efforts in student philanthropy. But since the average price of a year’s tuition and accommodation at the establishment comes in at a whopping $67,150, that’s led to rumors that the young man’s college education is being paid for by his famous father. Well, there’s got to be some perks of having a well-known dad…