We love science fiction. Every year millions of people go to theatres to take in various sci-fi features and experience fictional worlds and events which play with our imaginations. Strange planets, futuristic robots, killer aliens, time travel and distant races and species of beings have all produced countless worlds we loved as kids and relived as adults. From the amusing to the terrifying, science fiction is one of the favorite genres of film and television for people all over the world.
This summer, one of the classic sci-fi franchises returns with its latest installment. Terminator Genisys, the fifth Terminator film, continues a story which began over 30 years ago with James Cameron’s original The Terminator. Over these decades we’ve watched as Arnold Schwarzenegger solidified his place among the sci-fi greats by hunting down and killing people without mercy or remorse only to return to protect the humans he once hunted. These films have scared us, amazed us with their special effects and kept us on the edge of our seat with non-stop action. If anything, the new Terminator will have us wondering if Arnold can still pull it off 30 years after he first became the T-800.
The following looks at 15 aspects of the Terminator movie series you may not have known. Of course, there’s a lot of trivia and interesting behind the scenes stories in the extra features found on the DVDs and Blu-ray releases. However, many of the following facts and stories have just come out over the past few years or been kept relatively under wraps by actors, directors and movie execs. Ahead you’ll find answers to various ‘how’d they do that?’ questions and movie related trivia. You’ll also see that the cast we know so well today wasn’t set in stone and things could have turned out much differently for the Terminator franchise.
15. Who Should Play Kyle Reese?
For the original Terminator film, it wasn’t always clear who would play the role of Kyle Reese, the soldier who comes back from the future to protect Sarah Connor from the homicidal T-800. Initially, James Cameron had envisioned Arnold Schwarzenegger for the role of the hero. Fortunately, that changed pretty early on. To fill the void, Cameron reportedly considered the likes of Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, Christopher Reeve, Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke as potential actors for the role. Even Sting and Bruce Springsteen were in consideration for the role of Kyle at one point in development. In the end, Michael Biehn claimed the iconic role and the rest is history – or the future?
14. Bill Paxton’s Sci-Fi Career
In 1984, little-known actor Bill Paxton was selected for a rather small role in The Terminator. Paxton played a punk who, along with his friends, confronts a very naked Arnold Schwarzenegger early in the film. Things don’t go well for the blue-haired Paxton and while you never really see what happens to him after the scene ends, it’s safe to say the Terminator doesn’t come over to offer medical assistance. This scene started Paxton’s professional relationship with Cameron which would spill over into the very popular 1986 film Aliens. Fun fact: Paxton would go on to be the only actor whose character would have rather unfortunate run-ins with a Terminator, an Alien and a Predator – the holy trinity of the sci-fi horror world.
13. Kyle Reese’s Cyborg Dog?
It’s probably a good thing that The Terminator had such a small $6.4 million budget and little room for extra special effects and props. After all, with a larger budget James Cameron may have had to give way to a request from Orion pictures that Kyle Reese have a cyborg dog sidekick. What makes Reese such a good character is that he’s a simple man with no superpowers or futuristic weapons. A cyborg dog would change that equation. Furthermore, adding in an enhanced sidekick could have had terrible consequences to the atmosphere of the film. From a Jar-Jar Binks comedic tone to a possibly laughable image of a dog wearing some sort of fake robototic face, keeping it simple and maintaining focus on the primary characters paid off in the end.
12. Claire Danes at the Wire
When Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was about to start shooting scenes in 2002, everything was in place except for one key character. Originally, the role of Kate Brewster was to be played by Sophia Bush, famous for her role on One Tree Hill. However, producers decided late on that Bush was too young for the part. Just one day before shooting was slated to start, the producers settled on Claire Danes for the role of the female resistance fighter. It’s probably a good thing her character spends so much time locked up in the back of a truck early in the film. After all, we can’t think of a better place to go over the script and brush up on lines handed to you just hours before.
11. The T-800 Was Powered by Apple
When the Terminator made the jump back in time to kill Sarah Connor it may not have had any clothes or the ability to say much, but it likely had some advanced computer processing power – or did it? In various shots in the film we see things from the perspective of the T-800. Everything is red and there are scrolling lines of text and code running up the sides. What we see is in fact the source code for a program run on an Apple II computer which the filmmakers thought would give a nice touch to the Terminator’s character. Does this mean Steve Jobs is somehow linked to Skynet? Is there the possibility that we could, one day, all have our own I-Terminator with 32 or 64 GB storage capability that comes in white or black?
10. A Special Shotgun
Terminator 2 was a massive hit for the franchise and James Cameron. Raking in over $500 million, audiences flocked to theaters to see the ground-breaking special effects and Arnold Schwarzenegger reprise his role as the T-800. One of the famous and well-known scenes in the film had Arnold and Edward Furlong riding a Harley Davidson in an effort to get away from the T-1000. Schwarzenegger famously fired at the liquid Terminator using a level action shotgun which he operated with one hand and reloaded by flipping it around. This ‘gun flip’ scene required a specially modified shotgun with a larger grip and special level so that Arnold didn’t break his fingers performing the stunt.
9. Arnold as the Villian
In meetings with James Cameron, before the shooting of the original Terminator film, it was reported that Schwarzenegger liked the idea of the T-800 but was uncomfortable playing the villain. This concern wasn’t because he felt uncomfortable with the killing but because Schwarzenegger was trying to become more of a serious actor with potential to take on more leading roles. He thought playing the homicidal cyborg might hurt his career. Cameron convinced his star to take the role and promised he would shoot the movie in such a way that would make the audiences cheer for the T-800. It turned out to be some of the best career advice ever given out in Hollywood.
8. Bale’s Epic Rant
Christian Bale is a pretty good actor. Ok, maybe that’s an understatement. From American Psycho and The Machinist to the Dark Knight Trilogy, Bale has demonstrated he is a great actor. He also has a great temper which he attributes to the fact that he gets so into character on set that the character can take over his emotions. This resulted in what can only be described as an epic (and rather hilarious) tantrum he threw on the set of Terminator Salvation – the fourth installment in the Terminator franchise. What got Batman so upset? Apparently the Director of Photography distracted Bale during one of the scenes. What followed was nearly four minutes of Bale losing it on the DP – an outburst he later apologized for.
7. The Terminator’s Limited Vocabulary
To be fair, when you send a highly advanced cyborg back in time to do a little killing, giving it a significant vocabulary and speech ability aren’t high on the list of ‘things-to-do.’ In the entire original Terminator film, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character says a total of 58 words. It makes sense because he’s a robot assassin, not a robot salesman. It also probably suited Schwarzenegger who was still sporting a rather thick Austrian accent which gave him trouble pronouncing certain words. Still, a Terminator with an Austrian accent? Does this mean that Austria or its people are somehow involved with rise of the Terminators and the near extinction of man in the near-future?
6. The Terminator’s Not-So Special Effects
The original Terminator’s limited budget meant that special effects were limited. As we’ve seen, even old Apple II computers were used to give the T-800 some futuristic characteristics. In the original film, James Cameron shot a lot of scenes in the dark or at night. This meant less expensive lighting was needed and the darkness also served to heighten the atmosphere.
Even in T2, with all of its special effects, budgets needed to stay in line. In the scenes where the T-1000 transforms into the hospital prison guard or into Sarah Connor at the steel Mill, you might think that was special effects. In fact, those two scenes didn’t use special effects but instead resorted to calling in the identical twins. For the prison guard Lewis, Don and Dan Stanton were used. For Sarah Conner, Linda Hamilton and her twin sister Leslie were used.
5. Edward Furlong’s Voice
Puberty can be a brutal time for kids. You’re growing, sleepy all the time, getting acne and, for boys, the voice changes can be comical. When 13-year-old Edward Furlong was playing John Connor in Terminator 2, he was experiencing noticeable voice changes. If you watch the film today you can probably pick it out any time he yells. While the voice cracks and high pitch squeaking is comical, it was an angle James Cameron didn’t want in the film. In order to maintain some level of consistency in John Conner’s voice, he had significant parts of his dialogue rerecorded later in production.
4. It Wasn’t Always Arnold
Can you imagine a Terminator without Arnold Schwarzenegger? It is difficult to imagine the massive killer robot played by anyone else. Believe it or not, the role was open to a bunch of other actors. Mel Gibson famously turned down the role. Others considered to play the T-800 included Jurgen Prochnow, Lance Henriksen, Kevin Kline and Michael Douglas. There are even reports that Tom Selleck had been cast in the role but was forced to pull out because of obligations related to Magnum P.I. It makes you wonder, had Selleck been cast as the Terminator, if James Cameron would have allowed him to keep his trademark mustache – maybe giving it some cybernetic super-mustache powers of its own?
3. Even OJ Was Considered
One of the more notable figures considered for the role of the Terminator was NFL and movie star OJ Simpson. The Juice was a popular figure in Hollywood in the 1980s and he had the physique to take on the role of the T-800. Some people at Orion Pictures suggested OJ as a candidate to take on the now iconic role. James Cameron reportedly dismissed the idea because Simpson was too much of a good guy who everyone liked. At the time it just was not believable that a Terminator, played by Simpson, could go around Los Angeles killing women.
2. The Origins of the Film
According to James Cameron, the idea for The Terminator came to him while he was in Rome for the release of his directorial debut film, Piranha II: The Spawning. Probably as a result of watching his own film, Cameron came down with an illness. While stuck in bed he says he had a nightmare in which a metal figure emerged from a fire and stripped of its skin. This episode inspired him to write the script for the original film.
However, after the film’s release, sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison accused Cameron of merely lifting the idea of robots from the future from an episode of The Outer Limits which had been written by Ellison. The two reached an undisclosed settlement and Ellison was given credit for his influence.
1. Arnold’s Famous Line
“Pardon me, my good sir. I shall be returning to this location sometime in the immediate future.” Sure, that line is uttered nowhere in the film, but can you imagine the Terminator saying something other than the iconic line of “I’ll be back”? It turns out that Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to get the line dropped or at least modified because he had some trouble saying it with his accent. The famous scene in the police station was reportedly shot several times with a different variation of the phrase said each time. In the end, “I’ll be back” stuck and has since become one of the best known catch-phrases in movie history.