If there’s one thing Arnold Schwarzenegger is easily identifiable for, it’s his thick accent that’s remained a signature of his public image from the ’80s onward. But when the “Terminator” star began his career, he initially tried to curb the accent to no avail.
Schwarzenegger appeared on a recent episode of “The Graham Norton Show,” (via Insider), during which he spoke about the beginnings of his American acting career. The actor revealed that he had multiple coaches to help him break into Hollywood, one of which was an “accent removal” coach meant to help him successfully sound American. Schwarzenegger is Austrian, and his first language is German, his home country’s official national language.
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“I had an English coach, and an acting coach, and a speech coach, and an accent-removal coach — who has passed away since then, but I mean, I should have otherwise gotten my money back,” Schwarzenegger told Norton.
Recalling his experiences with his coach, Schwarzenegger explained that they would spend hours working on pronunciation of simple words like “three” or “wine,” in order to master how to say common English language sounds. But none of the drills successfully helped him to create an Americanized accent.
“I remember he’d say, ‘You know you always say ‘sree.’ It’s ‘three,’ with a ‘T-H.’ So he had me say, ‘Three thousand three hundred and thirty-three and one-third,’ with the ‘T-H’ and not with the ‘S,” he said. “We would say, ‘This is a nice vine.’ But it’s actually ‘wine,’ right? So the guy had me say ‘A fine wine grows on vine.’ I was saying things like that over and over again. It was very helpful, but it didn’t get rid of my accent.”
Despite not succeeding in developing an American accent, Schwarzenegger eventually broke through as a Hollywood action star in 1982’s “Conan the Barbarian” and 1984’s “The Terminator.” He said his accent unexpectedly became “an asset,” especially when he played the cyborg killer antagonist in “The Terminator.”
“When I did ‘Terminator,’ Jim Cameron said, ‘What made ‘Terminator’ work and why it became successful is because Schwarzenegger talks like a machine,'” Schwarzenegger recalled.
Schwarzenegger most recently starred in the Netflix series “FUBAR” and appeared in the documentary series “Arnold.” In May, he said he was finished with his iconic role in “The Terminator” series, after the experience of starring in the 2019 box office bomb “Dark Fate.”
“The franchise is not done. I’m done,” Schwarzenegger told The Hollywood Reporter. “I got the message loud and clear that the world wants to move on with a different theme when it comes to ‘The Terminator.’ Someone has to come up with a great idea.”
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