A lot of non-American actors who work in Hollywood try to talk American. Not Arnold Schwarzenegger. The presidential hopeful‘s Austrian accent has remained about as thick as it always was. You could even argue that’s one reason he became such a gigantic movie star. That’s what Schwarzenegger himself believes, though in a recent talk show appearance he confesses he tried to get rid of it.
“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 should have otherwise gotten my money back,” Schwarzenegger said on The Graham Norton Show while discussing his younger movie days.
“The bottom line is, I worked on it,” he added. “I remember he’d say, ‘You know you always say s-ree. 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.”
When Norton complimented him on finally being able to say “three,” Schwarzenegger joked, “After 5,000 years, right?”
But again, Schwarzenegger thinks his thick Austrian accent is what made American audiences love him.
“The funny thing was all the stuff that they said, the Hollywood producers and the directors and all the geniuses, they were saying this was an obstacle for me to become a leading man, became an asset,” he explained. He argued that it worked for his big screen breakout Conan the Barbarian. And it worked on his big follow-up.
“Then 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.
In some of Schwarzenegger’s earlier films his speaking parts were either minimized or elided entirely. He has no lines as a hulking heavy in Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye. And in his movie debut, 1970’s Hercules in New York — in which he’s credited as Arnold Strong — his lines were dubbed, though the original audio track was later made available on a DVD release.
In ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER’s movie debut, Hercules In New York (1970), his lines were dubbed because of his strong Austrian accent. Here’s a comparison of the original and dubbed lines. pic.twitter.com/Ho8rIgpgAg
— All The Right Movies (@ATRightMovies) October 22, 2023
You can watch Schwarzenegger discuss his famous accent in the video above.
(Via Entertainment Weekly)