Arnold Schwarzenegger’s son Joseph Baena reveals why he won’t use father’s last name

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s son Joseph Baena has revealed the reason why he decided not to take his famous father’s last name.

In a recent interview with Good Morning Britain, the 26-year-old bodybuilder explained that he wanted to keep his mother Mildred Baena’s surname as he embarks on his fitness journey and acting career. “I think the main thing is I’m trying to do things on my own and pursue my career with my will, my determination, my work ethic,” Baena told co-hosts Susanna Reid and Ed Balls on 13 March.

“My family is very big about supporting from afar, not being so hands on, and I really appreciate that,” the real estate agent said. “I think it’s really important, growing up as a man, to do things on your own, to figure it out. So that’s what I’ve been doing, and it’s been working so far. I’ve been working really hard.”

Despite not wanting to take his father’s last name, Baena has certainly followed in his footsteps. He recently starred in the upcoming film Gunner, alongside Morgan Freeman and Luke Hemsworth. “Some children grow up wanting to be a firefighter or an astronaut. I’ve always loved film and cinema so I’ve always wanted to be an actor,” Baena said. “It’s just the way the cards have played out. We happen to do and like a lot of the same things.”

As for any advice that the Terminator star has given his son as he forges a career in Hollywood, Baena revealed that his father simply said: “The key thing that he said is hard work, doing the reps, doing the practice, and always prepare.”

In addition to bodybuilding and acting, Baena also received his real estate license after graduating from California’s Pepperdine University in 2019.

In the three-part docuseries, Arnold - which was released on Netflix last year - Schwarzenegger opened up about fathering Baena with his former housekeeper while married to his then-wife, Maria Shriver. The former couple were married for more than two decades before separating in 2011, after it was revealed he had an affair with Mildred in 1996.

The former California governor said his “heart stopped” when Shriver brought up rumours about Baena being his son in 2011. In the documentary, he explained that the couple had been attending regular counselling sessions when she asked her husband if he was Baena’s father. “I thought my heart stopped. And then I told the truth: ‘Yes Maria, Joseph is my son,’” Schwarzenegger recalled. “She was obviously crushed by that.”

“In the beginning I really didn’t know, but the older he got, the more it became clear to me. It was then just a matter of, ‘How do you keep this quiet?’” he said.

Schwarzenegger went on to describe the affair as his biggest “failure,” adding: “I have caused enough pain for my family, because of my f*** up. Everyone had to suffer. Maria had to suffer, the kids had to suffer, Joseph, his mother, everyone. I’m going to have to live with that for the rest of my life.”

Shriver filed for divorce in May 2011, but it wasn’t finalised until 2021. The pair share four children: Katherine, 33, Christina, 31, Patrick, 29, and Christopher, 25. Baena was born just days after Christopher.

The bodybuilder previously opened up about navigating his career in the spotlight while also being the child of a celebrity. Speaking to E! News in 2023, Baena addressed criticism he’s received from trolls on social media.

“It was really bothering me that anytime I would get any kind of role or press, or I would post a physique picture on Instagram, I would always get comments of, ‘You’re only there because of your dad’ or whatever,” he told the outlet. “Thankfully, I am mentally strong enough to not let the scrutiny get to me.”

“I think with anyone that’s had a high-succeeding parent, it’s just going to be difficult,” he added. “People always discredit them, say, ‘You only got that because of your parents, you only got that because of X, Y and Z.’

“It’s hard, but it’s just something that you have to live with. Know within yourself that if you’re putting in the work and you’re actually doing it, then none of that should matter.”