Halperin gave Moviefone all the dirt, from Schwarzenegger's steroid-addled bodybuilding past to the allegations of womanizing and sexual assault. According to Halperin, It turns out that the Governor of California hates the Republican Party, and his wife Maria Shriver seems to be pulling all the strings.
Why did you select Schwarzenegger as your next bio subject?
I've had him on the radar for a while, but the fact is he's tried to intimidate a lot of people over the years. He's also tried to stop people from writing about him. I go over that extensively in the book. For me, that's my specialty. When people are bullying the media, I like to step in because I'm not afraid. In his case, I was compelled by the whole rags-to-riches, immigrant-makes-good kind of story. I don't think we've ever seen a comparable person, in terms of an immigrant succeeding in America. He's done remarkably well in three very difficult fields – bodybuilding, movies, and politics. Never underestimate Arnold.
Was the research/investigative process for this book roughly the same as it was for the others? Or was this one more difficult?
It wasn't really difficult, no. I was able to get close to most of the people who knew him. People want to talk about him because they're infatuated with him, especially when it comes to the Kennedy influence – like, how much did JFK or Bobby Kennedy influence him? People want to know that. I found that others also really want to talk about how much Maria [Shriver, Arnold's wife] controls things behind the scenes. That wasn't a problem.
On the other hand, it was very emotional for me because my father is a Holocaust survivor, and I had to venture over to Austria to get much of my information. I had to deal with Arnold's father – who was an Adolf Hitler admirer and a member of the Nazi party – and other members of his family, who were also Nazis. It got a bit emotional, but as the story progressed, I also got to see how much Arnold matured. I grew to respect him quite a lot, actually.
So you were able to get all the information you needed, then.
I will go on the record and say this: I put so much research and time into this book. If anyone can find a factual error in this book – and I'm serious when I say this – I will go back to Austria, climb the highest mountain there, get naked, and then jump to my death. [Laughs] That's how much I stand by this. I'm putting my money where my mouth is.
Did you interview Schwarzenegger at all for this book?
I never interview the main subject for my books, except for Michael Jackson, whom I did interview prior to the book coming out. I always speak to everyone around them, because I believe the main subject should have the right to write their own authorized book. I leave his account to him. Let's not forget I pose undercover a lot as well.
Did you learn anything about Schwarzenegger that shocked you?
What shocked me the most are his thoughts on the Republican Party today. He said he believes it's been hijacked by extremists and the religious right. He says he hates what's happened to the Party. He also said he loves George Bush, Sr. but despises George W. Bush. He always asks "How George and Barbara could raise such an idiot."
It's amazing how far he's come in terms of politics, especially considering 20 years ago he was shooting machine guns in action movies.
Yes – as I said before, Arnold is the ultimate success story. He has accomplished the impossible in everything he's tried. I've never seen an actor receive more horrific reviews than Arnold did on his first 5-7 films. 'Hercules in New York,' 'Conan,' 'Red Sonja' – he was just lambasted, and somehow he defied all of those critics. He became one of the biggest box-office draws the world has ever seen.
I know that Schwarzenegger has admitted to using steroids in the past. Did you uncover anything more in terms of that?
First off, I gotta say he's nothing like Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds, who hide behind closed doors or lie in front of the grand jury. Arnold comes clean, and is, at least to some extent, honest. What I did learn is that Arnold is a great businessman. He always wanted to be rich. He had goals from as early as 10 years old. .. and what I found out that was shocking was that he was actually selling steroids to other bodybuilders to make a profit. He was no fool. Every bodybuilder back then took steroids.
What about in terms of the womanizing/sexual assault rumors?
In a nutshell, Arnold Schwarzenegger makes Tiger Woods look like the Virgin Mary, and I'm not kidding you. This guy has been a notorious sex addict, and finding women who'll come out and admit to sleeping with him is like finding snow in Toronto in February. It ain't too difficult.
I forget – how many kids does Schwarzenegger have?
Four. That we know of. [Laughs]
"I obviously can't prove it," she told me, "but a bunch of us were convinced that Maria was a thirty-year-old virgin. She was literally saving herself for marriage."
I found that hard to believe, especially given her longtime relationship with Arnold Schwarzenegger, who made no secret of his unquenchable sexual desires, but she did key me into something that lends credence to the idea: "Maria is no garden-variety Catholic. She's the real thing, maybe the only one I ever met unless you count the time I interviewed a priest."
How different was writing this book – emotionally – than the Michael Jackson bio?
Well, emotionally the whole Nazi thing was very intense and stirring for me. There were times when I broke down and cried while I was in Austria. With Michael Jackson, I feel like he was the most honorable celebrity I ever met. Definitely one of the most artistic, for sure. To this day, I truly believe that the world will never get over his death. He was a really kind person.
What has the reaction been to this book so far?
People say this is my best book by far. The reviews have been great. The Washington Post did a good article about it the other day. Lots of people have been moved by it. My Michael Jackson and Brangelina bios did well too, but I really wanted to do this one, to get away from pop culture.
Do you find it hard to maintain a good reputation? Or do a lot of people just think of you as a muckraker?
People either love me or hate me. But I'm the first guy to say it ... these people are sitting at home eating potato chips and criticizing me ... if they can do it better, I'll be the first guy on my feet clapping for them. I work extremely hard, and I've never had anything proven wrong in any of my work.
Is there anything you couldn't include in this book or the Jackson book?
In the MJ book, yes. There was one powerful thing that people alleged, but I couldn't corroborate, so I haven't released that nugget. In this book, there were hundreds of these things. Unless there's extreme corroboration from outside sources, these things end up in the bin.
Do you have any subjects or movie plans on the horizon?
Movies, documentaries specifically, have become my passion now. I have no plans for another book at this point. I am shooting a movie now, but I can't reveal the subject, unfortunately. Again, it's in my style of undercover investigation. The only way I'll write another book is if I find a more interesting subject than my previous book. And I don't see anyone out there to top Arnold.