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Arnold Schwarzenegger says his famous ‘I’ll be back’ line almost didn’t happen

“The Terminator” might have been remembered differently.
/ Source: TODAY

Arnold Schwarzenegger has revealed that he was initially against saying his famous “I’ll be back” line in “The Terminator.”

In the hit 1984 film, Schwarzenegger’s cyborg character delivers the iconic phrase for the first time. The line has become one of the most recognizable quotes from the franchise. 

But the 75-year-old actor recently told The Hollywood Reporter that he was not convinced the line would work. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines." Maximum Film / Alamy Stock Photo

During the interview, the publication asked Schwarzenegger how he feels about the catchphrase almost 40 years later. 

“I think about how it was an accident,” the former governor of California replied.

He recalled discussing the line with the movie’s director, James Cameron, before they filmed the scene. 

“Jim Cameron and I were debating how to say the line because I was not comfortable with saying 'I’ll,'” the Austria native explained. 

Schwarzenegger suggested that the script be rewritten so that he could say “I will be back,” instead. But, the acclaimed director, who co-wrote the film, disagreed. 

The action star said Cameron pushed back with, “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.” 

They debated back and forth before the “Titanic” director gave Schwarzenegger a pep talk and assured him that he would nail the line.

Schwarzenegger said Cameron told him, “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 encouraged the actor to say the catchphrase any way he wanted. 

“I’ll keep rolling the camera. Then we’ll choose one,” Schwarzenegger said, quoting Cameron. 

So, Schwarzenegger took the advice. He acted out three different versions of the line for THR, which the outlet described as flat, "guttural" and "cheerful."

“It sounded stupid,” Schwarzenegger said. 

But after the movie premiered, he quickly realized that fans loved it. 

“The movie comes out. I’m in Central Park. This guy comes up and says, ‘Say the line!’ … Now, a few days ago, I was skiing in Aspen, and the concierge comes up asking me to say the line,” he shared. 

“So that’s where it started and where it ended up. It’s wild," he added.

While some actors avoid being linked to one role or quote, Schwarzenegger doesn’t seem opposed to it. 

“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,’” he said. “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?”

His son-in-law Chris Pratt later put his spin on the catchphrase for the 2021 Prime movie “The Tomorrow War.” 

Pratt, who is married to Schwarzenegger’s daughter Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt, spoke about his take on the line in a 2021 interview with “New York Live.” 

The “Guardians of the Galaxy” actor said he showed his father-in-law a trailer for his sci-fi film and prepared him for the slight nod. 

“I showed it in front of the whole family and I said, ‘I do have a line,’” Pratt explained. “‘I say, I will be back. And you’ll see it just pales in comparison to anytime you’ve ever delivered that iconic line.’”

“I’m just saying it like a guy who’s going into the room. There’s nothing iconic about it," he added.

Pratt also revealed in the interview that Schwarzenegger frequently quotes himself.

“He does it all the time, too. He’ll say lines from his movies and stuff. He’ll walk out and be like, ‘I’ll be back,’” Pratt said.