When James Cameron set out to make Terminator in 1984, he had a vision to create one of the most terrifying science fiction films of all time. In his adrenaline fueled tech noir film, a cyborg from the future gets sent to the past to prevent the birth of the child that will one day destroy his kind. Amidst the chaos of the film that Cameron considered to be his first real triumph, he created one of the most iconic villains in cinema history,the T-800 terminator, as well as some of the silver screens most iconic heroes like Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese.
Cameron sought to revamp the science fiction genre on a small budget from Paramount and with a former bodybuilder from Austria as his steely antagonist. It would become one of the top ten films of that year and its sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, would arguably top it. The Terminator franchise shows no sign of stopping, so here's 10 things about the main characters you might have missed.
10 SARAH CONNOR'S LIMP
In certain action scenes in Terminator, you can clearly see Sarah Connor run with a slight limp. This is because actress Linda Hamilton tore ligaments in her foot and broke a bone. Rather than do something drastic like recast her part, her ankle was wrapped daily and the production schedule was changed.
To account for this limp, James Cameron had an in-character detail added to the novelization of the film. Sarah Connor suffered a figure skating accident and got pins in her ankle. Every time the Terminator comes hunting for Sarah, it breaks open the leg of every "Sarah Connor" it comes across to see if it can see the appropriate pins.
9 THE TERMINATOR IS AN EXACTING KILLER
The Terminator hunts Sarah and Kyle Reese throughout the movie, committing heinous acts of violence to every bystander that gets in his way. His kill count gets the highest when he chases them to a police station around halfway through the film.
When the Terminator attacks Sarah inside the station, a cop tells her that there are "thirty cops" in the station, implying that they're well manned to stop the machine. If you count the amount of cops the Terminator kills on screen during the scene (including the burst fire), they all add up to thirty.
8 THE TERMINATOR ORIGINALLY NEEDED TO EAT
If it seemed out of place in Terminator 3 that the T-800 needed food, there was going to be an in-character reason for that. Initially, James Cameron devised that the Terminator needed to consume food in order to keep the human flesh covering his exoskeleton from rotting.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was all set to eat his favorite Austrian chocolate wafer, but test audiences reacted extremely negatively to the thought of the killing machine needing to ingest food, so Cameron scrapped the idea. It eventually would make it into T3, where he eats the chocolate wafer, wrapper and all.
7 SARAH CONNOR IS A JETSONS FAN
Terminator has become one of the most popular films of all time, as well as a landmark in the science fiction genre. Though it's been described as a "horror" film by director James Cameron, it has a lot of science fiction references in it. One such reference is Sarah Connor wearing a Jetsons shirt, depicting the "family of the future" that was popular in the '60s and included many robots.
Other references include inspiration from one of Cameron's favorite series, The Outer Limits. The creator of the popular sci-fi show even tried to sue Cameron because he failed to reference his source material, resulting in Cameron begrudgingly settling out of court and giving credit for the inspiration.
6 SARAH CONNOR REALLY WAS A BADASS
In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Sarah Connor demonstrates that she knows her way around guns, ammunition, and combat training. Beginning with breaking out of her cell at the hospital, she uses a concealed paperclip to pick the lock. Linda Hamilton refused to allow any camera tricks to be utilized in order to show her picking it, and picked it for real. The British Board of Film Classification cut the majority of the footage for fear that it would inspire copycats.
As for all the weapon handling she does, she was trained by Israeli commando and inventor of Uzi submachine gun,Uzi Gal, to clean rooms, strip and reassemble weapons, and participate in hand to hand combat. All of this while having just given birth 13 weeks prior to filming.
5 JAMES CAMERON CALLED TO BREAK THE DATE WITH SARAH CONNOR
James Cameron was involved in virtually every part of Terminator and its sequel, from writing the screenplay to directing the action. Often times it was him, a handheld camera, and an actor getting shots without a permit all over Los Angeles. When something needed handling on set, he jumped in.
This hands on approach also resulted in him having a small "cameo" in Terminator. In the early scenes of the film, Sarah Connor is supposed to go on a date with someone. Her phone rings and a male voice leaves a message, telling her that the date is cancelled. That male voice was James Cameron. Ironically, Cameron would later marry Linda Hamilton in 1991.
4 ARNOLD COULD STRIP/REASSEMBLE A GUN BLINDFOLDED
In order to amp up the mechanical efficiency exemplified in the T-800's movements, Arnold Schwarzenegger felt it was necessary to be able to strip and reassemble every weapon used in filming himself when blindfolded. He also felt that it was necessary to be able to fire and reload them without hesitation.
This greatly added to the eerie menace of the character, who in both Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day seems to be able to walk through a barrage of bullets, reloading his weapons, and returning fire to his enemies completely undaunted by his surroundings.
3 JOHN CONNOR WAS A NATURAL
The entire reason why the T-1000 appears from the future is not just to kill Sarah Connor, but to prevent the birth of her son John Connor who will grow up to become the leader of the Resistance against the machines. In a few key scenes involving Sarah Connor and a young John, he was played by Linda Hamilton's real life son.
When it was time for teenager John Connor to be cast, casting director Mali Finn looked at hundreds of actors. She didn't want to be confined to Hollywood hopefuls and she decided to look elsewhere. She met a young boy (Edward Furlong) at a Boys and Girls Club in Pasadena, who called her "frog lips". Furlong's cocky bravado won her over, despite him never having acted before.
2 THE T-1000 WAS ALMOST BILLY IDOL
Though Robert Patrick became almost as iconic playing the T-1000 as Arnold Schwarzenegger did playing the T-800, he almost didn't get cast. During early production for the film, James Cameron had concept artists draw the T-1000 with a certain face instantly recognizable in pop culture singer Billy Idol.
Cameron felt that Idol's chiseled face and intense stare would be perfect for the role. He liked that his wiry build would be different than Schwarzenegger's. Unfortunately for Idol, he got in a motorcycle accident prior to shooting and thus lost the part. Patrick definitely made it his own, yet it would have been such different film with the prince of punk playing as T-1000.
1 ARNOLD HAD A LOT OF INPUT FOR HIS CHARACTER
Fascinated by the screenplay and tech noir world that James Cameron had conceived, Schwarzenegger threw himself into the role of the T-800. Cameron frequently had the Scharzenegger on set to discuss the film and its many changes particularly when relating to the Terminator.
Schwarzenegger insisted that the Terminator have the particular spiky burned haircut, as well as selected the perfect "manly" leather jacket. He also modeled his performance after Yul Brynner's "Man in Black" machine role in the film version of Westworld.