Even while insisting she "needs a boundary" on her personal life, Rielle Hunter talked with Oprah Winfrey about her affair with "Johnny" Edwards, their sex tape and his reaction to her GQ photo spread.
The show, aired Thursday, was taped earlier this month at the Park Road home Hunter is renting in Charlotte.
She is the third character in the Edwards tabloid drama to sit with Winfrey. The talk-show host has also interviewed Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, and his former aide, Andrew Young, who once claimed to be the father of Hunter's now 2-year-old daughter.
In the hourlong interview, Hunter contradicted some accounts in Young's recent book.
She said she loves the former Democratic presidential candidate and believes he loves her. Winfrey asked her about Edwards' repeated lies about the affair, most prominently in a 2008 TV interview.
"He's denied you, denied your child, lied on national television point-blank," Winfrey said. "What makes you think he's not lying to you?"
"I know him like the back of my hand," she replied. "I know when someone's lying. ... He's not lying. He's messed up. He was screwed up. He was trying to make his life one of integrity."
"Well, this is making no sense to a lot of people," Winfrey said. "All we're seeing is lies and lies and more lies and more lies."
Hunter sought to explain Edwards' reasoning: "I got to make it better, so I'm going to keep lying."
Hunter, sitting in front of her living room fireplace, choked up when asked why she agreed to go along with the cover story involving Young at a time Edwards was running for president.
She said the charade was "devastating," but that she did it for her daughter.
Also in the interview:
Hunter sidestepped questions about whether she believes she hurt Elizabeth Edwards.
"You would have to ask Elizabeth that," she said.
(Elizabeth Edwards, reached by e-mail Thursday, said she didn't watch the show. "I was shopping for my daughter," she wrote. "So I couldn't comment.")
Hunter said she never used birth control, and Edwards knew the possibility of pregnancy. "I would have been fine if it happened," she said. "I was in love with him."
She acknowledges the sex tape. "I don't think there was a lot of thought going on in the heat of the moment," she said. But later she and Edwards said, "Well, that was not a great idea."
Hunter said she tried to destroy the tape by pulling it out of its casing and cutting it.
Young, who is in a court fight with Hunter over the tape, wrote in his book that he and his wife found the video after Hunter moved out and they were able to tape it together.
Hunter called her GQ photo spread - in which she straddled her bed wearing little more than a shirt - a "huge mistake."
"What were you thinking?" Winfrey asked.
"I would like to have one sexy shot where the world could see me as a beautiful woman, as opposed to all those photos ... of me looking like the Wicked Witch of the West."
She described Edwards' response to the photo spread.
"Where are your pants?" he said.