The sunglasses. The leather jacket. The stone cold demeanor. Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Terminator” – the 1984 science fiction movie that cemented the actor’s status as a box office juggernaut – is about as iconic as it gets, but it turns out one of the most memorable moments in the film came about by sheer chance.
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter published on Tuesday, Schwarzenegger recalled how his line of dialogue in the film in which he utters “I’ll be back” was an “accident,” stemming from a disagreement he had with his director James Cameron.
“Jim Cameron and I were debating how to say the line because I was not comfortable with saying ‘I’ll,’” the former California governor reminisced. “I said, ‘I think it’s stronger to say, “I will be back.”’ Cameron said, ‘Are you the scriptwriter now? It’s just one word. Don’t tell me how to write. I don’t tell you how to act.’”
Schwarzenegger then remembered how he responded, telling his director that he told him how to act “every f**king minute!”
But in the end, of course, the outspoken director prevailed, when he told Schwarzenegger, “Arnold, you think it sounds weird. It doesn’t. What makes it great is that you sound different than me or Charlie over there. That’s what makes it work.”
Cameron then instructed his star to “just say it 10 times. Say it different ways. I’ll keep rolling the camera. Then we’ll choose one.”
After a few tries, of course, they ended up with one that worked.
“The movie comes out. I’m in Central Park. This guy comes up and says, ‘Say the line!’” Schwarzenegger continued. He also said the line has followed him to this day, adding, “a few days ago, I was skiing in Aspen, and the concierge comes up asking me to say the line.”
“So that’s where it started and where it ended up. It’s wild.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Schwarzenegger maintained that while he might be done starring as the Terminator – a robot from the future alternately tasked with saving or destroying humanity, depending on which franchise installment you’re referring to – the franchise itself “is not done.”
“I’m done. I got the message loud and clear that the world wants to move on with a different theme when it comes to ‘The Terminator,’” he said. “Someone has to come up with a great idea. ‘The Terminator’ was largely responsible for my success, so I always would look at it very fondly. The first three movies were great.”