Director Alan Taylor's Marvel sequel Thor: The Dark World opened this weekend, and is on track to make between $74 and $85 million, which not only launches the Game of Thrones helmer toward the top of the A-list but also cranks up the interest in Taylor's next project, Terminator 5. While the plot details are still murky at best, a host of potential names have been floated for the project, joining the quasi-confirmed Arnold Schwarzenegger, who will return to his role as the T-800.
An older rumor from a few years ago (when Fast and Furious 6 helmer Justin Lin was attached to direct) suggested that the fifth Terminator movie would feature an older Sarah Connor alongside a grown John Connor, set in the present day. The franchise's central plot device - time-travel in its various forms - would supposedly be utilized to partially reboot the series, potentially nullifying the events of Terminator: Rise of the Machines and The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
As for the possible cast, we very recently reported that Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), Brie Larson (21 Jump Street) and Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) were being considered for the role of Sarah Connor, and now THR confirms that director Alan Taylor will be testing the actresses as early as next week. THR also adds that Schwarzenegger's return will see him "as a Terminator robot in a time-spanning story that sees him tasked to protect Sarah Connor as she grows up."
As for the future savior of humanity - John Connor - Boyd Holbrook (Hatfields & McCoys) and Garret Hedlund (TRON: Legacy) were said to be in contention, but according to THR, the role they were supposedly circling was that of John's father Kyle Reese (played by Michael Biehn in James Cameron's original film and by Anton Yelchin as a younger Reese in Terminator: Salvation). The talk of Holbrook's involvement was apparently false, but Hedlund is still in the running.
Additional info on the Kyle Reese casting comes from CBM from a tweet by Variety's Justin Kroll which claims that Taylor Kitsch (John Carter) and Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Days of Future Past) are being tested for the role as well.
That leaves the question of just who will be playing John Connor. The Dark Knight Rises star Tom Hardy is reportedly at the top of Alan Taylor's wish-list, but "at this stage not even a meeting has taken place."
With these young actresses in the running for Sarah Connors, it's a fairly good bet that T5 really will be set sometime in the character's past, with the "Arnold-model" terminator showing up to protect her. This would certainly fit the pattern of the sentient, hellbent-on-destroying-humanity A.I. known as Skynet and it's various attempts to eradicate the threat of the Connors in the years prior to Judgment Day.
If this is the case, then where does a Tom Hardy-aged John Connor fit into all this? It's sounding more and more like T5 is taking a cue from X-Men: Days of Future Past and taking this opportunity to reset the series in certain ways.
There doesn't seem to be a frontrunner for the role of Sarah Connor at the moment, who was portrayed by the now-iconic Linda Hamilton in the first two films and by Emilia Clarke's Games of Thrones co-star Lena Headey in The Sarah Connor Chronicles. While Clarke has proven to be a tough and deceptive figure as the last Targaryen, both Larson and Robbie are seemingly left-field choices and perhaps better suited to play a pre-badass Sarah Connor. It will be hard to erase the memory of Michael Biehn as Reese in the first Terminator film, but Hedlund has the charisma (if not the range).
As for John Connor, Hardy is already traversing a post-apocalyptic universe in director George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road, so he'll at least be comfortable with the terrain (though perhaps he won't want to). So many actors have played John Connor - most recently Hardy's Dark Knight Rises co-star Christian Bale - that Hardy seems as good a fit as anyone.
With the screen testing apparently rolling full steam ahead, expect more news on the other key roles to surface soon.
Terminator 5 is scheduled to hit theaters on July 1st, 2015.