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Possibly one of the most famous faces and voices in contemporary film, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a legend in the action film genre. The Austrian-American actor has starred in several action classics since the 1980s, after his breakthrough role in the epic Conan the Barbarian in 1982, a box-office hit.

Due to his impressive physique after a successful bodybuilding career, including winning the Mr Universe title at the age of 20, followed by the Mr Olympia title seven times, Schwarzenegger has played some of the most iconic roles in the action genre. These include Major Schafer in the sci-fi horror Predator in 1987 and Captain Richard in The Running Man a year later. He even played a meta-based parody of an action star/character in the comedy Last Action Hero, as there was no better-suited star during the time.

However, if there is one action role that exemplifies the actor’s star power and skills as an action hero, it’s T-800 in The Terminator franchise. The first film was released in 1984 and was directed by James Cameron. Its eventful plot consists of a cyborg assassin (the Terminator) sent back from 2029 to 1984. His mission is to kill a woman called Sarah Connor, as she will soon give birth to a son who will grow up to save humanity from extinction by Skynet, a hostile artificial intelligence in a post-apocalyptic future. 

The Terminator was a smash hit, dominating the United States box office for two weeks, eventually grossing $78.3 million against a modest $6.4 million budget. Furthermore, it benefited both its director’s and star’s careers. It is credited with launching Cameron’s film career and cementing Schwarzenegger as one of Hollywood’s greatest leading men. 

It later spawned a franchise that includes several sequels, the second film Terminator 2: Judgement Day is even considered better than its predecessor, and video games.

Despite the actor’s success with the role, Cameron later revealed he was hesitant to cast Schwarzenegger for the part. “Casting Arnold Schwarzenegger as our Terminator… shouldn’t have worked”, he shared. “The guy is supposed to be an infiltration unit, and there’s no way you wouldn’t spot a Terminator in a crowd instantly if they all looked like Arnold. It made no sense whatsoever. But the beauty of movies is that they don’t have to be logical. They just have to have plausibility. If there’s a visceral, cinematic thing happening that the audience likes, they don’t care if it goes against what’s likely”. 

The Terminator’s overall box office of $78.3 million was obtained from a global release, built from earning $40 million in other territories alongside $38.3 million in the United States and Canada and $40 million. One of these territories was Germany, with a German dubbing – a language that leading star Schwarzenegger speaks due to his Austrian roots. 

However, as essential as his vocal performance is to the role, and despite the fact he can speak German, the actor did not provide the voice-over for the German release. Instead, German voice actor Thomas Dannebeeg provided the German translations of “I’ll be back”.

Schwarzenegger wanted to dub his own voice for German versions of the Terminator films. However, his accent is considered very rural by German/Austrian standards. As a result, it was decided it would come across as unfitting and rather bizarre to have a gun-wielding robot from the future come back in time and sound underclass and colloquial.

You can see Dannebeeg’s work dubbing Schwarznegger’s iconic movie quotes here.

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