Arnold Schwarzenegger is a true icon. There’s an obvious statement. He’s starred in a laundry list of blockbuster action, science fiction, and comedy films. Oh yeah, and he was the governor of California, and according to Demolition Man, he’ll be president one day. In a career full of iconic moments, none is more memorable than his line in Terminator: “I’ll be back.” But it almost didn’t happen.
Hawking his new memoir, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story, Schwarzenegger stopped by Good Morning America. During the interview with George Stephanopoulos, the Governator told the story of how the line was almost something quite different. You can watch the clip below.
Throughout the conversation you can’t help but think that Schwarzenegger is like two seconds away from jumping across the table and snapping the former Bill Clinton aid’s neck. Every time the action hero gestures with both of his massive hands, you fear for Stephanopoulos’ life a little bit. This feeling is probably primarily due to having seen way too many Schwarzenegger movies at a young, formative age, and having seen him do just that.
So the story goes that Schwarzenegger, with his thick Germanic accent, was having trouble saying the line as written. His idea was to say the line as “I will be back.” While on paper that’s a relatively minor alteration, really think about how different that extra syllable would have made the line. In the grand scheme of things, changing up the delivery probably wouldn’t have impacted the overall architecture of the film, but that moment would be completely different.
Director James Cameron, however, insisted that Schwarzenegger say the line that he wrote, and movie history was born. The most important lesson to take away from this can be found in Arnold’s parting words: “James Cameron is never wrong.”