Terminator Genisys stars and filmmakers talk about the franchise and the new movie

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Terminator: Genisys arrives in theaters on July 1st, and we had a chance to attend a press conference with the cast and crew including writers Patrick Lussier and Laeta Kalogridis, actors Jai Courtney (Kyle Reese), Arnold Schwarzenegger (T-800/”Pops”), and Emilia Clarke (Sarah Connor), director Alan Taylor, and producers Dana Goldberg and David Ellison. Check out the highlights below!

Arnold talks about how his approach to playing the T-800 has changed over the years since the first movie.

Arnold: Well, in Terminator 1, it was very clear that they are just a machine that destroys human beings, and anything that was in the way, you know, I will wipe out, in the most brutal way without, you know, any feelings or any kind of remorse, because my mission was to protect the machines, and to find Sarah Connor and to basically be successful with my mission. In this movie, it becomes a little bit more colorful, because now I am again back to destroy Sarah Connor, I’m still this vicious cold machine that is programmed to destroy Sarah Connor and nothing will get in my way, except in this story something does get in my way, which is another Terminator, one that has been around for a longer period of time. It’s also the T-800 model but he was programmed to protect Sarah Connor and the human race, so there’s obviously a major conflict between the two when they meet, and that’s what creates then this huge epic battle. And then of course the Terminators, depending on how long they have been around, some of them are just straight Terminator, as the one from 1984, but then the one that has been around longer, he has already adopted certain human behaviors, subtle. And so from a acting point of view, you have to be really be, you know, very wise the way you use that, and how you, you know, get that across, that he has human behaviors and he does have certain feelings and stuff like that, but also creates great comic relief when the Terminator tries very hard to be like a human and he fails miserably. You know, so you see also that in the movie.

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Patrick Lussier, Laeta Kalogridis and Alan Taylor were asked about the advantages and disadvantages that came with changing the “Nexus” of the movie.

All three took turns responding but mentioned that even with the differences you see in the movie, nothing in canon has changed; everything is preserved and we are now on an alternate universe timeline. They are only adding to create a new story with the characters that exist. Now you take those characters and take a look at them from a different perspective and take a look at the core of the character and how they would change in different situations. The learning chip was brought up and was talked about, including how it was removed from Terminator 2. While it was talked about in Genisys, people already knew about it and it was focused on the T-800, who has been around humans for decades and adapted to his surroundings, which is something they could do in the movie.

Jai Courtney and Emilia Clarke were asked how helpful was Arnold in helping them with the weaponry and stunt work in the movie.

Emilia: He was very helpful. I definitely needed like a lot of help. So yeah, yeah, he was very helpful. I know that I spent most of my training just hoping that he would be, uh, impressed. Getting a good response from him was kind of yeah, the most helpful thing, to give me the confidence to continue on.

 Jai: He’s the only man I’ve ever come across who can fire six rounds, six shotgun shells off without blinking. [LAUGHTER] It’s really hard to achieve.

Arnold was asked if he could go back to 1984 and relive and moment over and over, which would he choose and what would he change if he had the chance?


Arnold: Well, I don’t know if I would be that interested in 1984. I think that if I have a chance to go back, [Yeah.] why not just go back all the way in history, you know, to the times of the pyramids, or to the Roman days? I think there are so many great historic times until now, that I would like to get a little peek of those periods, rather than just 1984. Why limit yourself? If I have the chance to time travel, might as well go all out. [LAUGHTER]

Emilia and Jai were asked about doing the stunt work naked, did it feel “freeing” naked and did Arnold give you any advice?

Jai: Freeing, yeah that’s the word. It’s totally liberating doing stunts naked.

Emilia: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Naked in a harness was fun, doing stunts, that was good. That was interesting.

Jai turned to Arnold: I don’t know, Arnold, did we get into naked talk? We can now.

Arnold: I think they’re fun, because they’re embarrassing, they’re fun, and it leads to funny conversations and funny dialogue and great humor and everything like that, so you know, it’s inevitable. You have to do it because that’s what the movie shows, and there’s at certain times you can cover things up and there’s certain times you don’t and you can’t, and so what? You know, I don’t think there’s anyone here that anything to hide.

Emilia: Had a couple – had a few things I tried to hide.

Arnold was asked his thoughts on the Supreme Courts decision for same sex marriage.

Arnold: I’m very happy that they made the right decisions on that, because we in California, of course, we’re always a step ahead. We made the decision already a long time ago. Our Supreme Court of California that is unconstitutional to deny people that are gay, or same sex couples, the marriage, everyone has equal rights, so this is the right way to go, and I think it’s a great celebration for America. So sometimes I have to say that the judges, and our judiciary system, makes better decisions than the politicians. Sadly, that they are not really having the balls sometimes to lead, and work together on those issues.

Emilia was asked how it felt to play the role previously played by Linda Hamilton, and and if being on Game of Thrones helped her in the movie in anyway?

Emilia: Yes, I’d grown up watching the Terminators and being continually inspired, especially by Linda’s incredible performance. So I jumped at the chance to be able to take on this role. And then it was kind of after that fact, the daunting realization of the enormity of the part, kind of sunk in. But yes, it’s just been an absolute joy as an actress to be able to take this on. And yeah, there are many elements of my work in Game of Thrones that were incredibly helpful to try and kind of harness the like inner badass. But the difference between the two is that in Game of Thrones I do a lot of delegating, and then here in this movie I really had to get down and dirty and like do a lot of the stunts and the gun work and everything, so yeah, its similarities, but Sarah Connor is a whole other kind of badass.

When asked about how the writers tried to incorporate the iconic line from the previous movies, Patrick Lussier talked about how it all started when they were working on the first scene which was Arnold vs Arnold, and focusing on all the characters they wanted to use. They knew they wanted the “I’ll back back” line but didn’t want to use it early on, if we were going to use it we had to earn it and that it had a significance. So everything was one big massive love letter to everything James Cameron created and was trying to find the balance of where it would fit in and made a point of not over doing it.

Arnold was asked about his feeling when it all started, after establishing himself with Conan and coming into the movie about his feeling about the Terminator movie before anyone knew about the movie, and his feelings about what the role has become to him over the years.

Arnold: Yeah, I was approached to play Kyle Reese, by Mike Medavoy. He said, “We have this great project with [PH] Hamdell and Orion, and it’s a, you know, kind of an action flick, it’s you know, kind of low budget. James Cameron, you probably have not heard of him but he has done one movie before, some little movie, so this is his second movie, and you know, as far as we are concerned that O.J. Simpson is going to play Terminator.” And so this was kind of the dialogue.

And I said, “Wow, that’s great.” I said, “Let me get the script.” And I got the script, I read it, and it was a really great script. And then I met James Cameron, and during the lunch period with him and with John Daly, you know, I started talking more and more about Terminator and how he has to train and how he has to prepare for this part, and how he has to act like a machine and how he has to deassemble, and put together guns blindfolded and how he has to practice shooting, and you shouldn’t blink, you know, and on and on and on. So the whole lunch went like that.

And then in the end James Cameron said, “So why are you wanting to play Reese? You should be the Terminator.” And I said, “No, no, no.” I said, “Look, the Terminator only has 27 lines. [LAUGHER] I don’t want to go backwards with my career here, you know. I like Kyle Reese, and he really says a lot and he’s the hero, you know, and I just started out being kind of like the leading man and being the hero in the Conan movie, so I want to continue on like that.”

And he says, “No, but the most memorable character really will be the Terminator. The way I shoot it is this way, and this way,” and he was explaining it, explaining the whole thing. And he says, “You should be the Terminator, and I will make sure that you don’t have to think about, you know, the villain’s aspect, because it’s a machine, so everyone is going to think that he’s a hero anyway because he’s going to do cool things.”

And so you know, he talked me into it basically, so I said, “All right, forget about Kyle Reese. I’m going to be the Terminator.” And so that’s how that happened. And so it was, yeah, a small project, with [PH] Andel Hurt being the producer, and we went out and shot it kind of six weeks, seven weeks, and really the cheap way, and Stan Winston was helping us, you know, with the special effects and visual effects and all this, and it ended up, you know, what was supposed to be kind of a little B movie ended up one of the 10 top movies for Time Magazine, and you know, I was called the ultimate villain and then at the same time the ultimate hero. So all this great stuff started happening which no one of us knew would happen. So this was all kind of like exploding. And then there was a demand for a second one, and then we did the second one and that became the highest grossing movie of the year, in 1991, I think it was, or 1992, I’ve forgotten now. But I mean, in any case, so that was really the launch of this franchise and it became bigger, bigger, and bigger.

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