When The Terminator hit theaters on October 26, 1984, it took the world by storm. James Cameron's futuristic thriller redefined both the post-apocalyptic and time-travel sub-genres, while introducing fascinating concepts about the dangers of modern technology. It also cemented Arnold Schwarzenegger's status as one of the biggest action icons of the '80s and beyond.
Cameron's directorial skills were also rightfully lauded, and after the success of the film (and his subsequent hit Aliens), the inevitable sequel was green-lit, resulting in the immensely popular 1991 box-office smash Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which expanded upon the original film's mythos, while adding a bigger sense of action and spectacle, bolstered by a drastically bigger budget than the original.
Subsequent sequels haven't shared the same magic as the original two films, largely because Cameron stepped away from the director's chair to focus on other projects like True Lies, Titanic, and Avatar, but follow-ups Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator: Salvation, and Terminator Genysis have had their moments.
While the franchise's future has been in doubt (due to Genisys's poor box office and critical reception), there may still be life in the old cyborg yet. While just what that may entail remains to be seen, the series remains one of the most popular franchises in sci-fi history. Let's look back at 15 behind-the-scenes facts that you may not have known about everyone's favorite murderous robot.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day was the most expensive film ever made for its era: the movie's groundbreaking digital effects made it the first Hollywood production with a budget over $100 million ($102 million to be exact).
This was largely devoted to the liquid metal morphing abilities of the T-1000 (played by Robert Patrick). Be that as it may, the sound effects that accompanied the cyborg's morphing transformation abilities was decidedly low tech: the effect was created by submerging a condom inside a mixture of flour and water. And the sound when Patrick squeezed through prison bars was achieved by dog food oozing out of a can.
Other inventive effects included throwing glass into yogurt (for the sound of the T-1000 getting shot by a gun), and a pistachio smashed by a metal plate (for the skull crushed by the T-800 in the film's opening sequence).
Before Arnold Schwarzenegger clinched the role that would define his career, Orion Pictures studio head Mike Medavoy suggested football player O.J. Simpson for the part of the murderous cyborg. James Cameron recalled the encounter:“Medavoy came to me and [producer Gale Anne Hurd] and he said, ‘Are you sitting down? You must sit down. I want O.J. Simpson for the Terminator. Gale and I just looked at each other and thought, ‘You’ve got to be f- - -ing kidding me. How do we get out of this?”
In the end, Cameron dismissed the suggestion, saying “This was when everybody loved him, and ironically that was part of the problem—he was this likable, goofy, kind of innocent guy." Yikes. Cameron noted the irony, saying “We might have reconsidered after he had killed his wife.”
Medavoy's O.J. Simpson casting suggestion led the director to approach Schwarzenegger to play the heroic Kyle Reese: “Medavoy came up to me at a screening and told me that they already had the Terminator cast with O.J. Simpson.” When the actor later met with James Cameron, the director became intrigued by Schwarzenegger's suggestions on the T-800's motivations--suggesting several elements of the character that would make it into the final product. Cameron then asked Schwarzenegger if he would play that part instead. At first, the actor was reluctant to play a villain, but eventually warmed to the idea.
Another interesting piece of trivia: before Michael Biehn was cast as Reese, other performers considered for the part included everyone from Sting and Bruce Springsteen to Bruce Willis, Kurt Russell, Mel Gibson, Christopher Reeve, and Mickey Rourke.
As we mentioned above, Terminator 2: Judgment Day was an incredibly expensive production for its time, but director James Cameron tried to cut corners and save money when possible. One of the most effective ways of cutting costs involved the use of twins--and not just one, but two sets of identical siblings were used over the course of filming.
The first instance involves Lewis the security guard who is murdered by his doppelgänger (the T-1000 in disguise). To achieve this old-school visual effect, he hired identical twins Don and Dan Stanton (also known for their dual roles in Good Morning, Vietnam and Gremlins 2: The New Batch).
And Linda Hamilton's twin sister Leslie also played a significant role in Judgment Day, portraying Sarah Connor's T-1000 facsimile.
Terminator: Genisys fizzled at the box office in a major way. And one possible reason was that a trailer gave away the movie's major plot twist: John Connor, the hero of the Terminator franchise, was now the villain, turned into the very cyborg killing machine he had pledged to destroy.
Genisys director Alan Taylor didn't sign off on the reveal, and was not pleased, as he discussed in an interview with Uproxx: I certainly directed those scenes with the intention that no one would know...I know there was kind of a challenging calculus going on in the heads of those who market this thing to decide that this was the right thing to do...they were concerned that people were misperceiving this as kind of a reboot...I think they felt they had to do something game-changing in how the film was being perceived. I had a few heads ups and a few unpleasant conversations where I squawked about this or that."
We have to wonder if anyone behind the marketing campaign's jobs were, um, terminated as a result?
While Lance Henriksen is best known for playing the benevolent android Bishop in James Cameron's Aliens, he previously collaborated with the director on the original Terminator movie, playing doomed police Sergeant Hal Vukovich. But he initially lobbied to play the evil cyborg himself.
While he didn't nab the role, he did play a crucial part in getting Cameron's film off the ground: he dressed like the character during a pitch meeting for the film with Hemdale Pictures. The actor burst through the door wearing a leather jacket, fake lacerations, and gold foil on his teeth and sat down in the chair.
The director arrived shortly afterwards, pleased by the shocked expressions of Hemdale head John Daly and his staff. Henriksen's interpretation was so impressive that it helped finalize the deal.
James Cameron shot an alternate ending for Terminator 2: Judgment Day that ruled out any ambiguity--Judgment Day never happened at all: humanity had triumphed.
In the clip, Sarah Connor (Hamilton in truly terrible old-age makeup) gives this wistful speech: "August 29, 1997, came and went. Nothing much happened. Michael Jackson turned 40. There was no Judgment Day. People went to work as they always do. Laughed, complained, watched TV, made love. I wanted to run to through the street yelling to grab them all and say, "Every day from this day on is a gift. Use it well." Instead, I got drunk. That was 30 years ago. But the dark future which never came still exists for me. And it always will, like the traces of a dream. John fights the war differently than it was foretold. Here, on the battlefield of the Senate, his weapons were common sense and hope. The luxury of hope was given me by the Terminator. Because if a machine can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too."
As cheesy as it was, at least it would have made it very difficult to make any more sequels, which, in retrospect, may have been for the best.
While Terminator Salvation's impact was more lukewarm than either beloved or hated, it would have proved to be a more polarizing film had director McG included the very different finale that he originally had in mind.
The filmmaker explained his vision in an interview with Entertainment Weekly: “Connor dies, okay...and all of the characters we care about (Kyle Reese, Connor’s wife Kate, etc.) are brought into the room to see him...and Connor gets up and then there’s a small flicker of red in his eyes and he shoots Kate, he shoots Kyle, he shoots everybody in the room. Fade to black. End of movie. Skynet wins. F— you!”
While Connor actor Christian Bale was gung-ho for this utterly bleak finale, and the studio had given approval, McG had reservations and went with a less caustic ending: "in the end, it just felt like too much of a bummer.”
While Linda Hamilton was offered a role in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the actress turned it down. This was partly due to her experiences on Terminator 2. Hamilton wasn't eager to return to a physically demanding role that required her to train three hours a day and six days a week for 13 weeks for judo and military training as well as adhering to a strict diet. Plus, she suffered hearing damage from the climactic elevator shootout scene.
The other reason for turning it down? She had concerns that her part was more of an afterthought, telling MTV News that:“I knew my character arc was so complete in the first two, and in the third one it was a negligible character. She died halfway through and there was no time to mourn her. It was kind of disposable, so I said no thank you.”
Before Kristanna Loken got the part as T-X in Terminator-3: Rise of the Machines, the film's casting department went through a frenzied and epically thorough search. In fact, over 10,000 actresses reportedly auditioned for the part before they settled on Loken, who at that time was best known for her role in 1998's Mortal Kombat: Conquest.
To say Loken's audition process was bizarre would be an understatement. She wasn't asked to give any line readings (no surprise there, given her extremely minimal dialogue in the film). Instead, her audition consisted of the statuesque actress walking up and down a hallway, stopping and turning, and giving a menacing glare.
The actress would further prepare for her role by working with a mime coach and putting on 15 pounds of muscle to help her square off against Schwarzenegger.
To achieve the T-800's automaton-like efficiency while wielding a variety of firearms, Schwarzenegger went through a rigorous month-long regimen for the original film. The actor practiced assembling and stripping weaponry while blind-folded, so that his movements would look clinical and automatic.
Schwarzenegger spent many hours at shooting ranges, never looking down at his weaponry during reloading or cocking, and also resisted the urge to blink during scenes. To further this inhuman approach, the actor's facial movements were also robotic: if you watch closely, you'll notice his eyes always move first, and his head follows. This is yet another testament to the creativity and preparedness he brought to his performance.
In the end, Schwarzenegger spent far more effort on the physical nature of the character than delivering dialogue: he only uttered 58 words in the original film.
Christian Bale's onset meltdown in Terminator Salvation is more memorable than the movie in which he starred. The actor, who played John Connor in director McG's utterly meh sequel, blew up at D.P. Shane Hurlbut when he walked into a particularly intense scene.
Bale's expletive filled diatribe consisted of noteworthy moments like "Am I going to walk around and rip your ------- lights down, in the middle of a scene?" "Ohhhhh, goooood for you. And how was it? I hope it was ------- good, because it's useless now, isn't it?" while also calling Hurlbut an "amateur."
Less discussed is the fact that Bale, who is British, despite his rage, still stays in character! Most of his screaming is in an American dialect, which illustrates how intense his method acting approach can. Bale was (deservedly) ashamed of the outburst, saying in a radio interview that "I was out of order beyond belief. I make no excuses for it," and made amends with Hurlbut. He then admitted that during that moment he gelt like he had a split personality: "I'm half John Connor, I'm half Christian there."
Arnold Schwarzenegger has the distinction of being the only Terminator franchise cast member to return for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. And what enticed him to return where others declined? Money, a WHOLE LOT of money, and several crazy demands, all of which were met to lure him back.
Schwarzenegger pocketed a whopping $29.25 million for Terminator 3. Not only that, but he also received 20 percent backend on all ticket sales, DVDs, TV rights, game licensing, and in-flight movie licensing worldwide.
In addition, the star grabbed the following massive perks: private jets, a personal gym, deluxe hotel suites, limos, and bodyguards (all of which required an additional $1.5 million from the film's budget). Lest you think the actor was excessively greedy, he did give back, self-funding the action sequence where he swings through a building via crane.
Before Robert Patrick landed the part of the liquid metal villain, Cameron had someone quite different in mind for the role, namely '80s MTV icon Billy Idol. Terminator 2 stunt coordinator Joel Kramer discovered this after looking over Cameron's pre-production storyboards: “I was like, ‘Jim, these storyboards look just like Billy Idol! And he was like, ‘Yeah, he was my first pick.’"
In the end, it wasn't meant to be: the singer famous for songs like "Rebel Yell" and "White Wedding" was involved in a nasty motorcycle accident, leaving him with a broken leg (which also took him out of the running for a high-profile role in Oliver Stone's The Doors). Even though Idol didn't nab the part, he would explore similar futuristic themes with his ambitious but derided 1993 concept album Cyberpunk.
It's true. As hard as it is to fathom, Schwarzenegger almost put the kibosh on the most famous one-liner in his career. Given the actor's occasional struggle with English, he asked if the line could be modified to "I will be back," thinking it odd that the cyborg would speak in contractions.
Cameron was not pleased with the suggestion, barking "I don't tell you how to act, don't tell me how to write!" In the end, 10 takes of the actor delivering his iconic catchphrase were shot, and they settled on one of the most memorable moments in 1980s cinema.
Another weird factoid about this iconic phrase: in the novelization of Cameron's screenplay the line was changed to "I'll come back." It just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?
That wraps up our list of 15 memorable behind-the-scenes Terminator moments! Have any other Terminator trivia you'd care to share? Tell us in the comments.