“I’ll Be Back” — Why Arnold Schwarzenegger Fought James Cameron Over Now-Iconic Line

It was the only argument they would have over the script, according to Arnold's book

Original artwork for The Terminator (1984)

James Cameron was on set with Arnold Schwarzenegger, in character as The Terminator, filming his scene walking into the police station.


The scene called for Arnold to be stopped by a police officer as he was trying to pursue Sarah Connor, and respond with a simple line: "I'll be back."


Originally written as "I'll come back," it was a short and seemingly simple phrase that packed a lot of punch. James hadn't intended it to be funny in and of itself, but paired with Arnold's determined and menacing expression, the line seemed to really work well.


But Arnold disagreed.


"It sounds weird with my German accent," he told James in BLOCKBUSTER. Arnold said it would sound too much like "all be back."


"Let's keep it 'I'll'," said James in response. The story is featured in Episode 5 of BLOCKBUSTER: THE STORY OF JAMES CAMERON — the award-winning "biopic podcast" series, starring The Walking Dead's Ross Marquand, from filmmaker and journalist Matt Schrader.



BLOCKBUSTER is free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and all other platforms. BLOCKBUSTER is winner of Adweek's Creative Podcast of the Year, and earned two Webby Honorees and NYF Radio Awards, including for Best Podcast Miniseries.


Arnold also felt the line seemed too casual for his character, who was essentially a robot. He wouldn't speak in contractions like "I'll" — he would say "I will."


"I will be back."


James, who'd agonized nearly two years over every detail of the script by this point, put his foot down.


"Let's just say it 10 different ways, and one of them will work," he said.


You can hear more about the rise of James Cameron in BLOCKBUSTER, free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all other platforms.


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