How Terminator 6 Will Handle Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Age

Terminator Genisys Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Terminator franchise hasn't been terminated yet, as director Tim Miller has officially signed on to work with James Cameron on the sixth installment in the franchise -- with Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger both confirmed to return. Although one might assume that Schwarzenegger's age could make portraying a musclebound cyborg more challenging, James Cameron doesn't seem concerned because a natural explanation for an older Arnold is already built into the franchise's mythology. Cameron explained:

You don't have to get around it. The beauty of it is: He's a cyborg. And so, the org part is on the outside, meaning organism. And Reese says it in the first film: 'They sweat. They have bad breath.' Because they were supposed to be infiltration units, so there's this idea that flesh sort of sheaths over a metal endo-skeleton. So that would age normally. So, obviously he's one that's been in action and operation for a long time. And that's all I want to say about the actual story part of it.

So if Arnold Schwarzenegger played one of those rubber-skinned Terminator models (like the ones seen in Terminator: Salvation), then things might be more difficult. However, since a Terminator's exterior remains concealed by living tissue over its metal body, Terminator 6 can easily sidestep any questions about decay, scars, or natural signs of aging that have occurred on the former bodybuilder over the years. The actor looks older, but the character he's playing also IS older.

Such an idea isn't a new concept for the franchise to explore. Even in Terminator: Genisys the story presented audiences with several different versions of the Arnold T-800 over the course of several decades -- ranging from his 1984 incarnation to a much older and greyer version of the character.

Terminator Genisys young old arnold schwarzenegger

That said, it seems that Terminator 6 will handle Arnold's age -- he'll be 71 at the time of filming -- in a far more complex manner than previous Terminator films. Tim Miller followed James Cameron's remarks to THR by explaining that the upcoming sequel will place a much bigger premium on the natural physical and emotional evolution that a Terminator would experience over time. Miller said:

I haven't talked to Arnold about this so I could get in trouble. But because he's been in all the other movies --- unlike Linda --- I do think there needs to be a reason to be different here. I like my sci-fi grounded. I like my characters grounded. And what Jim said about the exterior aging while the interior remains the same --- well, not the interior, as in the brain, as emotionally and intellectually he will have evolved. They're learning machines. But that's a way to make it different than it was. Even in Genisys, he looked --- I should stop --- he was a slightly gussied-up version of the old Terminator. I think we should embrace his age. And that's what's going to make it interesting and fresh for the fans.

That's something that the Terminator franchise hasn't touched on in recent installments but may soon return to the forefront. In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Schwarzenegger's T-800 becomes far more emotionally complicated after John and Sarah Connor open him up (in a deleted scene) and engage the learning function of his CPU -- which gradually allows him to pick up on social cues and the subtle nuances of humanity. Although that Terminator only had a day or so to learn before sacrificing himself in a pit of molten metal, it sounds like the next entry in this franchise will double down on that idea and go all in on a T-800 that has seen some hard miles, rather than just put Arnold in a gray wig.

Terminator 6 is currently set to debut in theaters on July 26, 2019. However, there's a ton of great movies left to premiere before then, so take a look at our 2017 movie premiere guide as well as our 2018 movie premiere guide!

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.