Terminator Director Says Meeting Schwarzenegger Completely Changed T-800

The TerminatorDirector James Cameron talks about how meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger changed his perception of the T-800. Released in 1984, The Terminator has since become one of the era’s most beloved films, kick-starting a franchise that released its latest installment in 2019. The original film follows Sarah Conner, played by Linda Hamilton, as she tries escape from a T-800 Terminator sent to her future to kill and prevent her from giving birth to the child who will lead a global resistance movement against the machine overlords. Schwarzenegger’s performance as the titular villain was such a hit with audiences that the actor was brought back for multiple sequels, including the acclaimed Terminator 2: Judgment Day.


A recent career retrospective interview was conducted with GQJames Cameron reveals that his initial idea for the movie was very different. T-800 should look like The Terminator. According to the director, his original idea was quickly discarded by Arnold Schwarzenegger after his first meeting with him. Schwarzenegger had originally approached him about the role of Kyle Reese. Check out Cameron’s full recollection of events below:

“I couldn’t get over how unique [Arnold Schwarzenegger’s] face was, how it almost just projected this kind of raw power. And my conception of the character had been that he was more of an infiltrator. But then my perspective shifted and I would say that it kind of pivoted on a dime. All right, if I cast this guy, how are they not all going to see him coming? How does he not stand out in a crowd? How do they not all look at him? And I thought, ‘you know what, don’t worry about it because he would make an amazing terminator.’ Because I just saw him as like this kind of bulldozer, this kind of armored tank. And he could just move through a crowd. If anybody was in his way, he’d just push them out of the way and you’d just accept it. It didn’t even have anything to do with the guns, it was just that kind of raw strength, a kind of a machine strength.”

Related: Every Way The Terminator Franchise Tried to Reinvent Itself (And Failed)

Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Perfect Terminator

While Schwarzenegger has played many iconic roles in his long career, his portrayal of the T-800 is his most notable. Schwarzenegger, who plays the role as the Terminator’s antagonist, is able use his physicality to create a machine that is truly terrifying. Throughout the first movie, the T-800 absorbs an immense amount of punishment, including gunshots, explosions, and blunt force trauma, and Schwarzenegger’s sheer size and body construction make it It is amazing that the Terminator is so resilientAll of this was enough for Sarah Conner to continue her pursuit. What’s more, the T-800 also speaks very sparingly in the film (save for a few iconic lines), which only serves to make his physical presence more intimidating.

Cameron then brilliantly flips this for the sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, in which Schwarzenegger’s character serves as one of Conner’s allies. After making the T-800 truly formidable and almost scary in the first movie, Cameron taps into the comedy potential of Schwarzenegger’s robotic performance, with his more dated machine facing off against the advanced T-1000 (Robert Patrick). Where once audiences were rooting against Schwarzenegger’s TerminatorThe sequel gives him enough personality to be a hero.

Although the sequels following the first two Terminator movies were generally received as well, the initial two installments stand as one of Cameron’s crowning cinematic achievements. It’s hard to say how The Terminator would have turned out if Cameron had gone for his initial idea for a more subtle and stealthy T-800, but it’s likely that the film wouldn’t be as fondly remembered as it is today. Schwarzenegger would be seen as various versions of the T-800 throughout the franchise, most recently in Terminator: Dark Fate. 1984’s The Terminator feels like the caseA role and an actor being the perfect match.

More: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Most Iconic Line Was Almost Very Different

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Source: GQ

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