Ever since it was first announced that the Terminator series would be partially rebooted in Alan Taylor's Terminator: Genesis, along with an accompanying TV show, fans have been debating if and how franchise star Arnold Schwarzenegger might be included. We now know that Schwarzenegger is set to return, after handing over T-800 duties to a CGI body double in Terminator: Salvation, but there have been few details on how the aging actor would actually be incorporated in the new film. At first some even speculated that Schwarzenegger wouldn't play a terminator at all and could, instead, flesh out his (ridiculous) Sergeant Candy role from a Terminator 3 deleted scene.
Fortunately that won't be the case but depending on how the filmmakers approach the series canon, it could be hard for the actor (now thirty full years older than he was in Terminator) to pass as a T-800 - especially since select scenes are rumored to revisit events featured in the first film. Yet, according to a new interview with Schwarzenegger, the writers aren't simply going to ignore the obvious age difference and have prepared a full explanation for the killing machine's aged appearance.
Speaking with MTV, Schwarzenegger explained there are actually two versions of the same T-800 in Terminator: Genesis - a younger version and an older version that has been reprogrammed.
"Terminator deals a lot with time travel, so there will be a younger T-800 and then what that model does later on when it gets reprogrammed, and who gets ahold of him. So it will be all kinds of interesting twists in the movie."
We've heard that Genesis could retell aspects of the Terminator story from a slightly different perspective (thanks to appearances from Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese and Emilia Clarke playing Sarah Connor), which would seem to require new shots of the young T-800 model. If true, it's unclear which tricks filmmakers will use to recreate the young Schwarzenegger - especially after negative response to the plasticky looking CGI copy seen in Salvation. Wide shots, body doubles, CGI, and age make-up go a long way in filling in the missing pieces but, until we know for sure how the stories overlap, it's hard to know for sure.
Nevertheless, based on Schwarzenegger comment teasing "what that model does later on when it gets reprogrammed," it sounds as though the older Terminator version will enjoy a more nuanced story arc and more involved performance from Schwarzenegger. As a result, wide shots and body doubles won't cut it, meaning the actor's 66 year-old physique will be obvious to viewers. Fortunately, with a little suspension of disbelief, the writers have devised a surprisingly straightforward explanation.
In the interview, Schwarzenegger asserts that genetically engineered flesh also ages:
"The way that the character is written, it's a machine underneath. It's this metal skeleton. But above that is human flesh. And the Terminator's flesh ages, just like any other human being's flesh. Maybe not as fast. But it definitely ages."
It'll be exciting to see how much (or how little) detail director Alan Taylor offers in explaining Terminator anatomy and aging. However, while the explanation might be eye-rolling to some, the idea of a Terminator model that has been around long enough to show 30 years worth of aging would allow for some genuinely interesting story ideas. If Terminator flesh ages slower, as Schwarzenegger suggests, that means the older/reprogrammed model will have endured decades worth of adventures and experiences. Recent rumors even suggest those adventures will see the T-800 character secretly watching over an unknowing Sarah Connor her entire life.
The balance between artificial intelligence and human nature has become one of the most intriguing aspects of the series and, given the amount of "humanity" that John Connor's T-800 learned in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (which occurred over the course of several days), it's exciting to think about how a reprogrammed T-800 might view its existence after spending decades online.
Hopefully, whatever Taylor has in mind, it'll be better than the previously mentioned (and arguably non-canon) Sergeant Candy scene from Terminator 3, which you can check out below:
Terminator: Genesis will open in theaters on July 1st, 2015. The new Terminator TV series does not have a release date yet.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates on The Terminator movie reboot and TV series as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.