Arnold Schwarzenegger fought with James Cameron over 'I'll be back' line in 'The Terminator' — until the director snapped at him: 'Don't tell me how to write'

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Arnold Schwarzenegger fought with James Cameron over 'I'll be back' line in 'The Terminator' — until the director snapped at him: 'Don't tell me how to write'
Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Terminator 2: Judgement Day" and James Cameron in the "Arnold" docuseries.Tri-Star Pictures/Netflix
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger argued with the director James Cameron while filming "The Terminator."
  • The actor said he didn't think his famous line, "I'll be back," was right for his robot character.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger has racked up some iconic one-liners over the years, including "get to the Chopper" in 1987's "Predator" and "it's not a tumor" in 1990's "Kindergarten Cop." Although, the less said about Mr. Freeze in "Batman & Robin," the better.

But Schwarzenegger's most famous piece of dialogue came from 1984's "The Terminator," in which he told police officers: "I'll be back."

And with just three words, an iconic catchphrase was born. It's a line the actor has since uttered in every subsequent "Terminator" movie he has starred in.

So, it's surprising that in his new Netflix docuseries, "Arnold," Schwarzenegger and the "Terminator" director James Cameron recalled how the star didn't like saying the line during filming and wanted to rework it into something else.

"Sometime 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 said. "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.'"

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Speaking in the documentary, Schwarzenegger said that he thought "I'll be back" sounded "funny" and wanted something that sounded more "machine-like" — "I will be back" — which led to a heated exchange with Cameron.

Arnold Schwarzenegger fought with James Cameron over 'I'll be back' line in 'The Terminator' — until the director snapped at him: 'Don't tell me how to write'
A screenshot of "The Terminator" script which says, "I'll come back."Netflix

"'And he says, 'Are you the writer?'" Schwarzenegger recalled Cameron asking him. "And I said, 'No,' and he said, 'Well, don't tell me how to fucking write.'"

Schwarzenegger wasn't afraid to admit that he was wrong, however, adding that Cameron's line was "absolutely right."

"It became the most quoted movie line, I think, in the history of motion pictures. So this just shows to you who was right and who was wrong," the actor said.

The 1984 movie certainly made history, earning $78 million at the box office against its $6.4 million budget.

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Schwarzenegger said that even Cameron was surprised when critics loved it as much as moviegoers.

"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. All of a sudden, I was on a roll," Schwarzenegger said.

"Arnold" is streaming now on Netflix.

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