Arnold Schwarzenegger Reveals How James Cameron Dunked On Him When He Tried To Improv Iconic ‘Terminator’ Line

the terminator movie

Orion Pictures

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in The Terminator is so iconic that his catchphrase is basically as ubiquitous as the character himself. And that catchphrase, of course, is “I’ll be back.”

Back when they were making The Terminator, however, Arnold Schwarzenegger’ apparently tried to change the line with some improv, arguing that “I will be back” sounded more robotic than “I’ll be back.”

Legendary director James Cameron, who was just getting his feet wet as a filmmaker at the time, wasn’t having any of Arnold’s suggestions, though, and called him out in a pretty brutal fashion.

“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 says in the new Arnold documentary on Netflix.”

“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.'”

Believing that “I will be back” sounded more machine-like, Arnold suggested they change the line, which prompted this ruthless response from Cameron.

“‘And he says, ‘Are you the writer?'” Schwarzenegger recalled. “And I said, ‘No,’ and he said, ‘Well, don’t tell me how to f****** write.'”

Obviously, Cameron knew what he was doing as “I’ll be back” has been a staple of the pop cultural lexicon since the film’s release in 1984.

Following the release of The Terminator, Schwarzenegger and Cameron would go on to make two more movies together: the iconic sequel Terminator 2: Judgement Day in 1991 and True Lies in 1994.

The Arnold documentary and his new action comedy TV series Fubar are both streaming on Netflix. As for Cameron, he’s currently hard at work on Avatar 3, which is currently scheduled to hit theaters in December 2024.