The Terminator franchise has been in rough shape over the past decade. Setting the action fully in the near future in Terminator Salvation didn't pay off, and Terminator Genisys failed to effectively reboot the series Star Trek-style two years ago. But it's like the old saying goes: the third time's the charm. For the sixth Terminator movie, James Cameron is re-teaming with Arnold Schwarzenegger to get the series back on track, but rather than Schwarzenegger once again returning as the eponymous machine, Cameron has suggested that the actor could instead end up playing the man who served as the inspiration for the T-800's design. When asked if he'd ever considered having Schwarzenegger play a human character, Cameron answered:
Yeah, you got to ask yourself, 'Why did they make these characters look and sound like Arnold?' There has to be a reason. So yeah, it has flashed through my mind that there has to have been a prototype. There has to have been a guy who's DNA was harvested from - that they grew the organic outer layer that they grew the Terminator from...and that presumably was a real person at some point. Now, the question is, did that person have some sort of meaning to Skynet on WHY they chose that one (Arnold)? Or was it like a whole rack of Terminators and the one that happened to be the Arnold model just happened to be closest to the door going out to the time displacement center and all the others looked different? I've asked myself these questions but it's never been resolved...so stay tuned!
While James Cameron's response to The ArnoldFans.com isn't official confirmation that Arnold Schwarzenegger will be playing the man the T-800 was modeled after, that would be a fascinating way to explore the mythology. Even though he's stayed fit in his older years, it's no secret that Schwarzenegger doesn't look like he did in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Terminator Genisys worked around this by having that T-800 model age over the decades, but including Schwarzenegger to flesh out the origins of these particular killer robots, including why Skynet selected that particular man, could be a cool approach for Terminator 6. This also opens the door for an actor to come in and play a new Terminator protagonist, like Summer Glau's Cameron in the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series.
All this being said, having Arnold Schwarzenegger play the T-800's inspiration isn't unexplored territory. One of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machine's deleted scenes featured Schwarzenegger cameoing as Chief Master Sergeant William Candy, one of Cyber Research System's receipts, as you can see below.
After plans to release a direct Terminator Genisys sequel were scrapped, it was reported back in January that James Cameron was stepping in to "godfather" the franchise for another reboot, as in 2019, he'll regain some of the rights to his creation in 2019, and he hopes to launch a "three-film arc" that will reinvent the Terminator universe. However, since Cameron is also busy overseeing the Avatar franchise, Deadpool's Tim Miller is reportedly being lined up to direct the next Terminator installment.
Terminator 6 doesn't have a release date set in stone yet, but according to Arnold Schwarzenegger, filming is expected to begin next March.