Joseph Baena has gotten some tips about acting and bodybuilding from his father, Arnold Schwarzenegger. But the 24-year-old isn’t leaning on dad’s famous surname to get him ahead in either field.
“My dad is old-school; he doesn’t believe in handouts. He believes hard work pays off, and so do I,” Baena recently told Men’s Health. “I love the word honor, and I’m very prideful in the sense that if I use my dad’s contacts or ask him for favors, I wonder what honor is that gonna bring me?”
He said he wants to know “it’s all me” when he goes to auditions. Using the Schwarzenegger name would make that impossible.
Not that the name “Joseph Baena” is a complete unknown. Baena became tabloid famous after his father, the former governor of California, admitted in 2011 that he and a former household staffer had a child together during his marriage to Maria Shriver. A year later, the names were all public knowledge.
(Information about the affair, which Schwarzenegger had already shared with Shriver before going public, led to the former first couple’s separation and ultimately their divorce, which took a decade to finalize.)
Baena, 24, told Men’s Health that during that period “my life transformed before my eyes.” To avoid the media swarm, he and his mom, Mildred Baena, fled from their home in Bakersfield to stay with relatives in Texas. “No one knew” about his existence before then, he said, “and everyone wanted the details.”
Once the frenzy died down, Baena and his biological father established a relationship that continues to this day. But when Baena, who’s also a real estate agent with Aria Properties in Marina del Rey, decided to try his hand at acting a few years back, he didn’t call his dad first.
“Even though I could call him anytime, I was too proud …,” Baena said. “I wanted to figure it out myself.”
That was a few years ago. Since then, he has learned from Schwarzenegger that in acting, as in bodybuilding, repetition is key.
“I say the lines over and over again — with a scene partner, an acting coach, or just by myself — repeating, repeating, repeating until it’s muscle memory,” he said. “To a point where you can wash your clothes, do your dishes, basically do anything — and spit the lines out.”
Baena has a role in a film that might come out later this year: “Chariot,” starring Scout Taylor-Compton, Rosa Salazar and John Malkovich. Also in the works are “Bully High” and “Encounters,” a sci-fi flick. Until then, there’s always real estate.