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A very big deal has been made out of how Terminator: Dark Fate is Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton’s first time working together since 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day – but not to be forgotten is the other person who was instrumental in the return of this franchise: writer/producer James Cameron.
Given that Cameron left the Terminator franchise before the making of the last three titles, the reunion between the killer robot movies and the blockbuster, Oscar-winning director is definitely exciting. But what kind of impact did he really have on the making of Terminator: Dark Fate? That was a question I posed to the stars of the movie at the new film’s recent Los Angeles press day, and you can watch their responses clicking play on the video below:
Similar to his role in the making of Alita: Battle Angel prior to its release earlier this year, James Cameron didn’t actually spend any real time on the set of Terminator: Dark Fate, but he was an instrumental force both in terms of getting the film made, and getting it made with a specific vision in mind. Curious about his impact on set, I asked Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Gabriel Luna about the influence Cameron had, and they made it clear that it was significant.
In Linda Hamilton’s case, for example, she attributes her whole entire involvement with the project being because of James Cameron’s presence, not to mention his massive contributions in terms of figuring out who Sarah Connor was going to be at the start of this new story. Discussing the writer/producer’s larger part with the Terminator: Dark Fate production, she explained,
Obviously he's the dynamo behind the franchise and I recognize that early days, and I didn't want to come back unless James came back as well. So there's that, you know? He's got an amazing mind, and an amazing sense. We still struggled with script, all of us, because it's a complex world, and even though we had the vague outline, a shape to the movie, none of us really knew who Sarah Connor would be within that story. Many discussions: is she a hopeless alcoholic like Rooster Cogburn in True Grit? Has she gone off and tried to... because it's been 28 years, what has she done ? Has she gone off and tried to live a normal life? Has she become a school teacher? There were endless possibilities, and carefully and slowly we started sort of wringing them down into a real shape.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, meanwhile, was in a different position, having been a significant part of two of the last three James Cameron-less Terminator releases. All the same, he gives James Cameron all of the credit in the world for the making of the latest chapter, as he noted that Dark Fate probably wouldn’t have come together if it weren’t for his key suggestions and input:
Without him there would have been no start. And so he then hired the writers that worked with him while he was prepping and shooting Avatar and all those things. So I think he did an extraordinary job, and he was on top of the situation. He was part of the casting. He's the one that that called Linda and to bring her back and all of those kinds of things. So I think that he had a tremendous influence in this project.
As noted by Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Cameron hasn’t exactly just been sitting on his hands recently, as he’s been extremely busy putting together not just one Avatar sequel, but multiple releases that are set to come out over the next six years. That certainly contributed to his more hands-off approach during the production of Terminator: Dark Fate (along with wanting to give director Tim Miller creative space), but as the star explained, there is no questioning his significant role in the making of the new blockbuster.
Very much echoing ideas and themes from the original Terminator movies, Terminator: Dark Fate is certainly a film that carries the artistic power of James Cameron in its soul – and the time has almost come for you to see it yourself. Following its release abroad earlier this month, the new feature is now hitting theaters in the states, and will be available everywhere starting on Friday. Check it out, and be on the lookout for more from my interviews with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Gabriel Luna, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, and Tim Miller here on CinemaBlend.