Arnold Schwarzenegger on Denial, the Shrivers, and Having It All

Of course in the beginning I think he was worried about my life, my lifestyle. Which I don't blame him because he is the father, you know, of Maria. He was saying, "We already have an actor in our family," that kind of thing. I could get that, I could feel that, you know, because he many times would say that in the beginning "Why don't you help people? You're an expert in health and fitness that's one of the things you ought to do, you could be continuing your education in that area." So his dream about my career was quite different from what it ended up. But maybe it's coming all the way around the circle, you know, and I'm ending up one day with something that he would, that he would love.

I told Schwarzenegger that Maria had told me he had modeled his life, and especially his forays into public service, after her parents'.

She means I think that I didn't model my life after theirs because I never really gave up my career or anything like that but I would say what I did was I used them as an inspiration -- because I felt like that it would be great to give back to the community. I felt like I had a lot of things to offer that are quite different from what Sarge had to offer, but that I really could have an impact because I had this wonderful, you know, all this media attention, all this star power, all this power and influence that I could really have an impact on issues, children's issues. I'd been working with that on afterschool programs, or on the President's Council on Fitness [under President George H.W. Bush] so that I could use my power to have an effect on that, to build that up. So a lot of the ideas and a lot of the inspiration comes from them and the key things that they taught me is the balance between what you make and what you give.

I told him that when I asked Maria if she believed the Freudian cliché about every woman wanting to marry her father, she'd said "Well, I think Arnold is more like my mom."

I think I've heard that a few times, you know, that Maria married her mother and that could very well be because I as a matter of fact I think that when Maria met me there is no way she could have looked at me and said, you know, you remind me of my dad. I think what made her fall in love with me was because I was the rebel, you know, I was the opposite of establishment you know. Bodybuilding was a sport that was not accepted socially -- it was was not the same as being a golf player or a tennis player or a football player. Those were the sports that were socially accepted; mine was not. I had to basically build the sport from scratch before people started accepting it...

I was definitely no symbol of anything that Sarge represented and I think that Maria fell in love with me because I was the opposite. I didn't go to work with a suit and tie I did not have studied the law, get a law degree like her brothers and father, someone that did not sit in an office all day long, trying to work his way up in the traditional sense and I would not go to the cocktail party and drink port, all those kinds of things, that was not me.

Maria... went for me so she could be a rebel on her own so that she kind of could defy, she did not want to fall into the same trap and the Washington scene or make you go down the same road where you kind of constrict your future, where you are going to be married to a guy at the country club and he's a lawyer and then you go to the cocktail parties for 35 years and have 3 kids and drive around with the trunk and the dog and the cats, you know, you can pretty much see what lifestyles people live and she wanted to do something totally different. She wanted to get away from all that. But this is all subconscious. I don't think she knew all that when she was 21. But I think that was the reason why she was excited about coming out here to Hollywood and starting a whole new life.

He talked about how both he and Maria have extraordinary powers of denial.

Maria lives in denial like I do -- that no problems exist, they don't exist. Maria always says "no, no, everything's fine, everything's fine, fine, fine." Maria says to me, "You must be tired." "Tired? Doesn't exist here. I'm not tired." Meanwhile I'm in the middle of falling asleep, but I'm not tired. So its like, denial, you know? It's like when I had my heart surgery, I didn't think about it before, nor did I ever think about it after. It didn't exist, it was like I was getting a tooth pulled or something like that. So she's like that, I'm like that, so we grind it out, same view of reality and so there are a lot of characteristics like that that we have in common

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Scott Stossel is the editor of The Atlantic magazine and the author of the New York Times bestseller My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind and the award-winning Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent ShriverMore

Scott StosselScott Stossel has been associated with the magazine since 1992 when, shortly after graduating from Harvard, he joined the staff and helped to launch The Atlantic Online. In 1996, he moved to The American Prospect where, over the course of seven years, he served as associate editor, executive editor, and culture editor. He rejoined the Atlantic staff in 2002.

His articles have appeared in a wide array of publications, including The New Yorker, The New Republic, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. His 2004 book, Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver, inspired The Boston Globe to write, "Scott Stossel's superb new biography is an extraordinary achievement," while Publisher's Weekly declared, "This is a superbly researched, immensely readable political biography." His most recent book, My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind, became a top-ten New York Times bestseller in its first week of publication.

Within the Atlantic offices, Scott will be forever remembered as the managing editor who oversaw the magazine's 2005 move to Washington from Boston, where it had been based since its founding in 1857. Under Scott's supervision, the magazine shifted all of its operations from Boston's North End to the Watergate building, all the while producing issues that were later nominated for National Magazine Awards.

Along with writing and editing, Scott has taught courses in the American Studies Department at Trinity College. He lives with his family in Washington, D.C.

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