Arnold Schwarzenegger said his inability to lose his accent "became an asset" for him in his Hollywood film career
Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to lose his iconic accent when starting out in Hollywood.
Schwarzenegger, 76, appeared on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show last Friday to promote his new book Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life and spoke to how hard he worked at learning English when he began starring in American films in the 1970s.
“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," the Terminator star joked.
"The bottom line is I worked on it," Schwarzenegger, a native German speaker, added of working on his speech at the beginning of his career. "I remember he’d say, 'You know you always say three [incorrectly.] 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.”
“Very good,” host Graham Norton replied, to which Schwarzenegger joked: “Yeah, after 5,000 years [of practice]."
The actor recalled other accent-removal exercises, including tactics to separate out the "V" and "W" sounds in English and what the actor called "the vibrating Z," to which he would say "the sink is made out of zinc" to practice the difference between the "S" sound and "Z" sound.
"So things like that, I was saying things over and over again — it was very helpful but it didn’t’t get rid of my accent," Schwarzenegger said. "But the funny thing was all the stuff that was said, the Hollywood producers and the directors and all the geniuses saying this was an obstacle for me to become a leading man became an asset."
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Schwarzenegger then went on recall that directors he worked with on two of his breakout roles — John Milius on 1982's Conan the Barbarian and James Cameron in 1984's The Terminator — publicly complimented Schwarzenegger for his performance and voice work at the time.
"[Milius] said to the press, 'If we didn’t have Schwarzenegger we would have had to build one,' because I was the only one that had the muscles to play that character the way Robert E. Howard has written about it," he said. “Jim Cameron said, 'What made Terminator work and why it became successful is because Schwarzenegger talks like a machine.' "
Elsewhere during Schwarzenegger's trip to England last week, the actor and his girlfriend Heather Milligan were seen leaving London's private members' club Annabels together last Tuesday. Schwarzenegger also made a pair of appearances at the London Palladium to host talks centered around his new self-help book, per its publisher Penguin Random House.
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