Robert Patrick wasn't the original choice to play the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The actor's prolific career took off when he joined the cast of James Cameron's hotly anticipated sequel to the filmmaker's 1984 classic, The Terminator. Patrick played the Prototype Series 1000 Terminator, simply known as the T-1000 -- an upgraded, shape-shifting android that was sent back in time in order to kill the leader of the Resistance, John Connor, a mission that Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800 had failed to accomplish in the first movie (though he was meant to kill John's mother, Sarah Connor).
Patrick's performance as the T-1000 was among the series' best, and that's, in part, due to the actor's unflinching stare while in character, as well as his ability to run at incredible speed while breathing only through his nose, thus giving off the impression that he wasn't breathing at all (since androids don't require air to survive). Cameron and casting director Mali Finn seem to have made the right decision casting Patrick, but the thing is, he wasn't the original choice for the role.
In an interview with THR ahead of Terminator 2: Judgment Day's 3D re-release next week, Robert Patrick discusses how musician Billy Idol was originally cast as the T-1000, but the artist had, unfortunately, injured his leg after being involved in a motorcycle accident. That left the role open for the taking.
"Billy Idol was set to do the role of the T-1000, as I understand. I can tell you that I saw Billy's image when I went to Stan Winston after I got the role. Unfortunately, he got into a motorcycle accident and busted up his leg, so he wasn't able to physically do what the role demanded. My agent sold me to the T2 casting director [Mali Finn] as a cross between David Bowie and James Dean. So, I was trying to create an intense presence while I was sitting with Mali. I had this intense stare, which she liked."
Upon landing the role, Patrick began training four times per day, so that he could become lean and fit (since his role required lots of running), the opposite of his co-star and fellow terminator, Schwarzenegger, who had made a career out of being one of the most muscular men in the world. However, Patrick's training was no less intense, and it seems to have all paid off in the end.
The T-1000 has become the basis for virtually every other terminator model, namely the T-X in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the T-1001 in the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series. Of course, the iconic T-1000 returned in the 2015 reboot, Terminator: Genisys, with South Korean actor Lee Byung-hun playing the new version, except this time, the T-1000 had been sent back to a much earlier time, to kill Sarah Connor during the events of the first movie, not John Connor as Patrick's version attempted to do in the second installment.