For several decades, it's been impossible to separate the image of Arnold Schwarzenegger from the Austrian accent he sported for most of his career. Even today, it remains as popular as the action star's physical presence. Simply put, there's no Schwarzenegger awesomeness without the thick accent. No imposing T-800, no first-ever live-action Conan the Barbarian. But producers and directors didn't think that at first, the actor has revealed.
He shared this and more while discussing his career on The Graham Norton Show. During his early days, he worked hard to remove his Austrian accent, mainly because "the Hollywood producers and the directors and all the geniuses" said it was "an obstacle," according to the veteran actor. In the end, it became an "asset," since it made his already strong presence even more unique. Moreover, he added that James Cameron said: "What made Terminator work and why it became successful is because Schwarzenegger talks like a machine."
It's hard to argue against that, considering that none of the actors that have embodied a Terminator, minus perhaps Robert Patrick as the T-1000, managed to hit the notes that made the original killing machine so famous and iconic.
One can also see how the accent worked in his favor beyond Conan and the Terminator movies, as many of his earlier roles weren't that good on their own (Predator comes to mind), and his performances were what put a special kind of energy into the characters.
Norton later congratulated Schwarzenegger on being able to pronounce "three" without his Austrian accent, and the actor joked it had taken him "5,000 years" and making an entire career out of it (among other things) to get it right. The full segment contains even more anecdotes about his early days and evolution as a performer, and is well worth checking out if you're a fan.
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