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Rather than have Arnold Schwarzenegger play a villain again in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, director James Cameron instead decided to have the newest T-800 model serve as the chief protagonist. Because of that shift, the main antagonist job went to the T-1000, Skynet's shapeshifting assassin. Robert Patrick delivered an impressive and intense performance as the T-1000, but had things gone as originally planned, musician Billy Idol would have been the one playing the killer made of liquid metal. According to Patrick, the reason that Idol wasn't able to join the Terminator sequel was because a motorcycle accident prevented him from being able to deliver what the role physcially required of him. As Patrick explained:
Billy Idol was set to do the role of the T-1000, as I understand. I can tell you that I saw Billy's image when I went to Stan Winston after I got the role. Unfortunately, he got into a motorcycle accident and busted up his leg, so he wasn't able to physically do what the role demanded.
While speaking with THR to promote the 3D theatrical release of Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Robert Patrick shed some light on why the T-1000 role passed from Billy Idol to him. Had Idol not been injured his leg in that motorcycle accident, we'd be remembering him as the one chasing after John and Sarah Connor back in the day. Alas, it wasn't to be, and once James Cameron put the word out that he was looking for a new actor to play the Terminator 2 villain, Patrick went into audition, and after working with the crew on the character's movements and doing a screen test, Cameron called the actor and informed him he'd scored the role.
Of course, when Robert Patrick took over as the T-1000 from Billy Idol, he also inherited the rock star's daunting physical tasks. Patrick trained four times a day to attain the lean and fit look T2's assassin needed, but it was more than just about obtaining the right body shape. Patrick also had to run incredibly fast without showing any signs of exhaustion. The actor continued:
I did it like a sprinter would: I locked eyes on a target and focused so there was no wasted energy. When done, I would clench my jaw, no mouth breathing, only through the nose and no expression because the character would not be straining.
The Robert Patrick-looking T-1000 never returned after Terminator 2: Judgement Day, but Patrick's performance earned him numerous accolades. Although the T-X model in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines combined elements of the T-800 and T-1000's characteristics, another T-1000 model wasn't seen again until 2015's Terminator Genisys, this one played by Lee Byung-hun. Now I find myself wondering if there's an alternate universe where Billy Idol never injured his leg and remained the T-1000, and he's the one we picture first when thinking about a liquid metal android reforming itself after being riddled with bullets.
You can catch Terminator 2: Judgement Day 3D in theaters on August 25.