'Terminator: Genisys': Jai Courtney Teases 'Changed' Kyle Reese

Kyle Reese in Terminator Genisys

Following memorable tuff guy roles in Jack Reacher and Divergent, Jai Courtney is quickly becoming one of Hollywood's go-to action guys - especially when it comes to characters, both good and bad, that are rough around the edges. Until this point, the actor has seen mixed critical success at the box office - though his films have, with a few exceptions, made solid money - and, where some moviegoers roll their eyes at Courtney's part in A Good Day to Die Hard, the actor has turned in genuinely memorable performances - especially as Charlie in Jack Reacher (along with Varro in Spartacus).

Comic book movie fans are eagerly anticipating Courtney's turn as Captain Boomerang in Suicide Squad next year. However, before he can join Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and Jared Leto for DC's villain team-up, the actor will enjoy a starring role in the upcoming franchise refresh Terminator: Genisys - as an alternate version of Kyle Reese.

Speaking in a new interview (with Hero Complex) while promoting Insurgent, Courtney explains that while certain aspects of Kyle Reese remain the same, any similarities with prior iterations will be subtle:

To be honest … I don’t pay any attention, really, to how the role has been played before. I might watch [previous works] for a point of reference as far as the world or the style [and] genre of filmmaking, but I [have been] asked if I studied Michael Biehn’s performance [as Kyle Reese] in the first “Terminator” and I’d be crazy to go and do that. It’s not going to translate, and I wasn’t hired for the job to emulate someone else’s performance. It’s a standalone film and the character’s changed. The writing’s changed.

It’s not to say we abandoned all the setup. He’s still a soldier in John Connor’s army fighting the resistance, and he still has the task of saving Sarah Connor, but that’s virtually all that links the two. I just can’t see it being interesting as a performer nor it being interesting for the audience if I was trying to go in there and just steal things from someone who’d played that role already. I think there’s archetypal similarities you’ll get with doing a role like that, and you can pluck influence from other actors or other performances, but it certainly wasn’t a concern of mine to try and hit specific things.

If you’re talking about a biographical figure it’s different. We know certain things about certain people in history that define them. But I think there was enough in the writing and enough in the character brief that provided the actors in “Terminator” to kind of go with that, but then completely make it their own.

Portrayed by Michael Biehn in the original Terminator, and later by Jonathan Jackson in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles as well as Anton Yelchin in Terminator: Salvation, Kyle Reese remains a key figure in the series canon - though most moviegoers still know very little about him. As a result, when it was first announced that Courtney had joined the cast of Genisys as Reese, many fans hoped the new Terminator movie would focus heavily on Connor's time-traveling father - tapping unexplored layers and backstory (beyond soldierly bravery and his relationship with Sarah Connor).

Terminator Genisys Cast

However, when it was revealed that Genisys would drastically toy with established Terminator continuity (and somewhat wipe away the series' later misadventures), by including an "aged" T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and a battle-hardened Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), it became clear that even if Courtney is featured prominently in the new film, he may not be the Kyle Reese that franchise faithfuls know and love. In fact, based on Courtney's comments, it sounds as though the only two legacy elements that remain firmly in place are his freedom fighter background and mission to protect Sarah Connor.

It remains to be seen which "influences" Courtney managed to inject but, depending on how far director Alan Taylor pushes the altered timeline concept, it'll be especially interesting to see how "changed" Reese is by the subsequent ripples in time  (not to mention Reese could evolve in already planned sequels). The character's role in the SkyNet war has been detailed in other mediums but, in spite of his overarching impact on the series, filmmakers only skimmed the surface with Reese in previous big screen productions.

Terminator Genisys Movie T800

Nevertheless, it's good to hear that Courtney isn't setting out to perform his best Biehn impression and, instead, the new version of Kyle Reese will be led by the film's script. That said, audiences can learn a lot about characters through juxtaposition - meaning that the Genisys team could use the semi-clean slate to actually reinforce who Kyle Reese truly is - regardless of his circumstances.

Though, given Courtney's assertion that he, and the filmmakers, have made Reese (and Sarah Connor) "their own", there's  plenty of reason to believe that an alternate timeline - with new and old threats - will reveal fresh elements of the Terminator-fighting heroes.

NEXT: Terminator: Genisys Set Visit Preview & Plot Details


Terminator: Genisys will be in theaters on July 1, 2015.

Source: Hero Complex

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