Arnold Schwarzenegger Nearly Ruined One Of The Most Famous Lines In Movie History

"It wasn’t meant to be, like, a big moment, at all," director James Cameron revealed.
Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator
Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator
Orion Pictures

Screen legend Arnold Schwarzenegger says one of his best-known catchphrases, which became one of the most repeated lines in movie history, almost didn’t happen.

In a new documentary series, Schwarzenegger admits that he lobbied to change the iconic “I’ll be back” line from The Terminator – which wasn’t even the original line anyway.

James Cameron, who wrote the script with Gale Anne Hurd and directed the film, said in the Netflix series Arnold that the line was supposed to be, “I’ll come back”.

“It wasn’t meant to be, like, a big moment, at all,” James said. “It was literally meant to be, on its face, ‘No problem, I’ll come back, I’ll come back.’”

Schwarzenegger didn’t use the line.

“I said, ‘Well, just say I’ll be back, keep it simple’,” James said.

But Schwarzenegger didn’t love it.

Arnold Schwarzenegger last month
Arnold Schwarzenegger last month
Albert L. Ortega via Getty Images

“I said, ‘Jim, to me it sounds funny to say I’ll be back,’” Schwarzenegger said. He thought ditching the contraction would make him sound more machine-like, and wanted to say a more robotic “I will be back” instead.

“And he says, ‘Are you the writer?’” Schwarzenegger recalled. “And I said, ‘No.’ He says, ‘Well, don’t tell me how to fucking write.’”

Schwarzenegger tested out the line: “I’ll be back” and James Cameron told him he got goosebumps hearing it.

He’s not alone.

“I’ll be back” is ranked 37th in the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Greatest Movie Quotes Of All Time, and 19th in the top 100 as voted by entertainment industry readers of The Hollywood Reporter.

“So this just shows to you who was right and who was wrong,” Schwarzenegger said with a laugh.

The three-part Arnold docuseries is now streaming on Netflix. The discussion of The Terminator comes in the second episode, which focuses on Schwarzenegger’s film career.


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