This year, James Cameron is finally returning to the Terminator franchise – a startling tale of time travel and artificial intelligence – with the sixth installment, Dark Fate. Cameron hasn’t been involved with the franchise since the second film. After that, Carolco made a third installment without him that controversially killed off Sarah Connor off-screen. Then, a fourth one took us to the war against the machines in a post-apocalyptic future.
Then, the fifth one was essentially Terminator’s The Force Awakens. None of these movies had an easy road to the screen. So, here are 10 behind-the-scenes facts about the Terminator franchise.
10 James Cameron sold his first draft for The Terminator for $1
Since James Cameron didn’t yet have the clout to just get any movie he wanted into production (although, after helming two of the record breakers for the highest-grossing movie ever made, that’s no longer an issue), he sold the rights to his first draft of The Terminator to producer Gale Anne Hurd, who he would later marry, for $1.
The deal was called a “blood oath,” as Cameron took the deal with Hurd’s promise that she would do everything in her power to get the film made. It paid off, but it also meant that Cameron sold what would become one of Hollywood’s most lucrative franchises for a buck.
9 Dark Fate director Tim Miller had to tell Linda Hamilton to stop smiling when she was firing guns
Terminator fans are thrilled that Linda Hamilton is returning to the role of Sarah Connor for the sixth movie in the franchise, Terminator: Dark Fate. The sequel was directed by Tim Miller, who helmed 2016’s Deadpool, and on the set of Dark Fate, Miller had to tell Hamilton to stop smiling when she was firing guns.
Whether she was happy to have a gun in her hand or just happy to be back in character as her most iconic role, Hamilton couldn’t keep a straight face in any scene that required her to shoot a firearm. Sarah Connor rarely smiles.
8 Edward Furlong visibly aged while shooting Terminator 2
Although it’s expected that kids will age rapidly when they’re starring in a multi-season TV show like Stranger Things or a long-running movie franchise like Harry Potter, it’s rare that a child actor will visibly age during a single movie. But Terminator 2: Judgment Day was on such an epic scale and took so long to film that Edward Furlong is visibly older in some scenes, like the desert scenes, than in others.
His voice also broke during production, so the varying pitches of his voice had to be leveled out to one pitch during post-production, which is why his voice sounds weirdly high in certain takes.
7 Arnold Schwarzenegger worked out until he was the same size in every sequel
For six months leading up to shooting Terminator: Genisys, Arnold Schwarzenegger worked out for three hours a day until he was the same size and measurements that he was 12 years earlier when he shot Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. And when he was preparing to shoot Terminator 3, he worked out until he was the same size and measurements that he had been another 12 years earlier when he shot Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
So, despite his varying ages in the sequels, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 has more or less maintained the same muscular dimensions.
6 O.J. Simpson was considered “too nice” to play the T-800
It’s impossible to imagine anyone other than Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the role of the T-800 now that he’s made it an icon. But Schwarzenegger, who was then little-known, was not the producers’ first choice for the role. Originally, they looked at football player-turned-actor O.J. Simpson for the part.
However, they changed their minds when they decided that he looked “too nice” to convincingly play a cold-blooded killer. Lo and behold, a couple of years later, the Juice would be on trial for murder, while Arnie remains one of the most decent folks in show business (except for the extramarital affairs).
5 Edward Furlong was initially supposed to appear in Terminator 3
In the early stages of development on Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Edward Furlong was contacted about reprising his role as John Connor from Terminator 2: Judgment Day. He looked a lot different as an adult in 2001 than he did as a kid in T2, but the producers figured he was the John that audiences knew. However, right before filming began, Furlong was dropped from the project.
No official reason was given, but it’s speculated that it was due to substance abuse problems. The producers frantically searched for a replacement, and four months later, shooting began with Nick Stahl in the role of John Connor.
4 Robert Patrick trained so hard that he was actually faster than the T-1000
Since a number of scenes in Terminator 2: Judgment Day required him to run so fast that a car struggled to outrun him, actor Robert Patrick began training on a rigorous running regimen. He trained until he could run really fast while only breathing through his nose, so it didn’t look like he was getting tired.
However, he trained a little too hard, and when it came to shooting, he caught up to John Connor’s dirt bike in seconds. So, Patrick actually ended up having to consciously slow himself down during the running scenes. Talk about commitment to a role!
3 John Connor originally had a much smaller role in Salvation
In the early drafts of Terminator: Salvation, John Connor was a mythical figure who only made a brief appearance at the end of the film. However, when Christian Bale was offered the role of Marcus, he felt more drawn to the role of John and the writers expanded John’s role accordingly. Terminator: Salvation had one of the most troubled productions in recent memory. Bale yelled at the cinematographer in a leaked tirade.
The writer’s strike prevented Jonathan Nolan from fixing the script with his reportedly great story ideas, so the producers were stuck with a bad script. Expanding John’s role was just one more problem that the movie faced.
2 The T-1000 could’ve looked exactly like Kyle Reese
The first casting choice for the T-1000 in Terminator 2 was Michael Biehn. The idea was that if Arnold Schwarzenegger was playing the heroic Terminator sent to protect Sarah Connor in the sequel, then Biehn playing the evil one trying to kill her would complete the reversal of their roles from the first one.
It’s anyone’s guess how this would’ve been explained – maybe Skynet would discover that the Resistance sent back Kyle Reese and figure that Sarah would trust him and imitate him for that reason. Either way, the producers quickly decided that accepting Schwarzenegger as a hero and Biehn as a villain in the sequel would’ve been too confusing for audiences and they decided against it.
1 The idea came to James Cameron in a fever dream
James Cameron had a terrible time making his directorial debut Piranha II: The Spawning, because the producers didn’t expect him to actually put any vision into it. They just wanted him to take credit while they made the movie they wanted to make. During the troubled production, he suffered from nightmares. Then, when he was staying in Rome for Piranha II’s release, he had a fever dream in which he vividly saw a “metal death figure coming out of a fire.”
He woke up, quickly started scribbling, and the first concept for what would eventually become The Terminator – still retaining that iconic image from its conception to its final cut – was born.