Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous “I’ll be back” line from 1984’s “Terminator” almost didn’t happen.
The action star and director James Cameron revealed in the actor’s new Netflix docuseries “Arnold” that the quintessential quote actually caused multiple disagreements on set during filming.
“Some time in the middle of the shoot, we’re doing this police station scene. The line is, ‘I’ll come back.’ It wasn’t meant to be like a big moment at all,” Cameron recalled. “It was literally meant to be, on its face, ‘No problem, I’ll come back.'”
“For some reason, Arnold didn’t say, ‘I’ll come back.’ I said, ‘Well, just say ‘I’ll be back,’ keep it simple,” he continued, however there was still clearly tension over the line … and it kept, well, coming back.
In the doc, Schwarzenegger said he found the line “funny” and felt it didn’t fit his character’s “machine-like” dialogue. Wanting to change it to, what he felt, was the more characteristically accurate “I will be back,” Schwarzenegger and Cameron allegedly had a heated exchange on set.
“He says, ‘Are you the writer?'” Schwarzenegger recalled Cameron asking. “And I said, ‘No,’ and he said, ‘Well, don’t tell me how to f—ing write.'”
Arnold finally went with “I’ll be back” and the rest is film history. The movie, made on a low budget, was a massive hit — grossing $78.3 million, spawning a franchise that’s still pumping out installments as recently as 2019. It also marked a turning point in Schwarzenegger’s career.
“What is successful box office-wise doesn’t mean that the critics will like it, so to have Time magazine, their critic, pick it as one of the top 10 movies was unheard of. It even freaked out Jim Cameron,” said Arnold. “All of a sudden, I was on a roll.”
“Arnold” is streaming now on Netflix.