Arnold originally thought “I’ll be back” was “too feminine”

Senior Editor
10.03.12 14 Comments

No one else could look this tough while eating ice cream

Whether it’s Eric Stoltz playing Marty McFly or Han Solo telling Princess Leia “I love you too,” it’s always weird to hear how iconic movies might have been different if things hadn’t turned out exactly the way they did. Add to the list Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic “I’ll be back” line in Terminator, which Arnold initially fought James Cameron over, according to his memoir.

In his memoirs published Monday, the former California governor says he thought the phrase sounded too “feminine,” insisting that “I will be back” was more rugged and suited to his robot killer character.
“Our biggest disagreement was about ‘I’ll be back’,” Schwarzenegger said. “I was arguing for ‘I will be back’. I felt that the line would sound more machine-like and menacing without the contraction.
“It’s feminine when you say the I’ll,” I complained, repeating it for Jim so he could hear the problem. ‘I’ll I’ll I’ll. It doesn’t feel rugged to me.’ He looked at me like I’d lost my mind.
“‘Let’s stick with I’ll,’ he said. But I wasn’t ready to let it go, and we went back and forth. Finally Jim yelled, ‘Look, just trust me okay?’ I don’t tell you how to act, and you don’t tell me how to write.’
“And we shot it as written in the script. The truth was that, even after all these years of speaking English, I still didn’t understand contractions,” said the Austrian-born actor. [Yahoo]

I actually think he had a point about “I will” sounding more machine-like, but part of the charm of the Terminator was a mechanical killing machine being programmed to converse in polite vernacular. And three syllables is just easier to remember than four.

Meanwhile, “I don’t tell you how to act…”? Isn’t that, like, ninety percent your job as a director, telling actors how to act? Seems like a flawed analogy. “Look, bro, I don’t tell you how to be a general, what makes you think you can start giving me orders?”

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