The Terminator is one of the biggest action franchises of all time, and Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s insistence that “I’ll be back” pretty much ensured he’d star in as many spinoffs and brand deals as he’d like. Still, it took the actor a while to warm up to his iconic catchphrase, which he initially thought sounded “stupid.”
Looking back on the franchise in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the Austrian body builder-turned-actor-turned-California governor revealed that he argued with Terminator director James Cameron about the line because he wasn’t comfortable pronouncing the contraction “I’ll.”
“I think it’s stronger to say, ‘I will be back,’” Schwarzenegger recalled. “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.’ I said, ‘You tell me how to act every fucking minute! What are you talking about?!’”
Schwarzenegger continued, “So he says, ‘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. So just say it 10 times. Say it different ways. I’ll keep rolling the camera. Then we’ll choose one.’ So they set it up, and I say: ‘(Flatly) I’ll be back … (cheerful) I’ll be back! … (guttural) I’ll beeee baaaack …’ It sounded stupid.”
Of course, following The Terminator’s success, Schwarzenegger grew to accept his catchphrase. “The movie comes out. I’m in Central Park. This guy comes up and says, ‘Say the line!’” he recalled. “Now, 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. I’m the last one to get complicated and say, ‘I don’t want to compare myself to my movies or use a line from my movies.’ Hell, Clint Eastwood takes the clothes from his movies and that’s all he wears. So why would I be worried about using a line?”
Schwarzenegger is grateful to The Terminator for his success, but don’t expect him to reprise the role any time soon. “The franchise is not done. I’m done,” he said. “I got the message loud and clear that the world wants to move on with a different theme when it comes to The Terminator. 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. Number four [Salvation] I was not in because I was governor. Then five [Genisys] and six [Dark Fate] didn’t close the deal as far as I’m concerned. We knew that ahead of time because they were just not well written.”
Instead, the actor will soon star in Netflix’s action comedy FUBAR, his first-ever regular television role. Read his wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter here.