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During a recent press conference, we had the opportunity to hear from the Cast and filmmakers of ‘Terminator Genisys’ about how they brought this movie to the big screen. In attendance was Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator), Emilia Clarke (Sarah Connor), Jai Courtney (Kyle Reese), Alan Taylor (Director), David Ellison & Dana Goldberg (Producers) as well as Laeta Kalogridis & Patrick Lussier (Writers).
In 1984, a cyborg arrived from the future. He was called the Terminator. Among the millions enthralled by this new cinematic icon were producers David Ellison and Dana Goldberg, their own filmmaking future still ahead of them.
As Ellison recalls: “The Terminator franchise—and really James Cameron is a seminal part of why I got into filmmaking in the first place; to me, he’s simply one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. I think Terminator 2 reinvented the modern day tent pole. So, for me to get to work on a franchise that is literally something I fell in love with as a kid, and which led to my wanting to become a filmmaker, is just a dream come true.”
Dana Goldberg adds, “When it was announced that The Terminator rights were going to be available, we were obviously interested as were many others in the industry, because it is such an incredible franchise. The first two Terminators, in particular, are movies that David and I revere. And at Skydance, we love making big, event movies. The idea of resetting Terminator for both the audiences that loved the originals and a whole new audience was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”
Q: So do you agree that there’s always more story to tell in a sequel?
A: I think that it really depends so much on the writing. I think that some people that are capable of making a sequel more special than the original and we have seen that when the original terminator came out, then Jim Cameron outdid himself with the sequel, and so then, you know, it became the highest grossing movie of that year. And since then we have been trying to outdo that, not always successfully but that’s what was always the attempt. Answered Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Director Alan Taylor responded with, Yeah, obviously it’s a wonderful storytelling device because you can open up a new universe, a new world, and besides offering twists and new territory, it’s also thematically grounded.
Producer Ellison says, “We knew we had to have a director who cared about character, and the love story of this family. Yes, there’s a lot of action in ‘Terminator’ movies and we definitely plan to live up to that promise. There are a lot of people who are great at shooting action, but only a handful or so that we thought could get true character driven performances in the midst of it all. We all pray at the altar of HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones,’ and we thought ‘Thor: The Dark World’ was phenomenal. And, sure enough, when Alan came in, he said that we could talk about what the Terminators are going to look like, and how many of them there are, and the different types, and how the third act fight is going to look, but the love story and relationships have to work. He said that in our first meeting, and we thought, ‘Okay, this is the right guy.’”
For Taylor, some of the appeal of making the film was the sheer challenge of working out how to do it: “It’s funny,” admits Taylor, “I was looking at various potential projects but this was the first one that felt like I couldn’t at the beginning tell exactly how to do it: it was a puzzle to solve it and that made it exciting and interesting.
Q: How helpful was Arnold Schwarzenegger with the weaponry and stunt work involved with this movie?
A: He was very helpful responded Emilia Clarke. 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 impressed. Getting a good response from him was kind of yeah, the most helpful thing, to give me the confidence to continue on.
Jai Courtney added, he’s the only man I’ve ever come across who can fire six rounds, six shotgun shells off without blinking. It’s really hard to achieve.
To begin the telling of “Terminator Genisys,” filmmakers open the movie with the final assault of the remaining humans on the machines, led by John Connor and Kyle Reese, in what could be the twilight of mankind. Dana Gold-berg explains, “We open with Kyle Reese as a child, talking about what had happened before he was born that humans beings basically got complacent and allowed machines to take over the world. Eventually, the machines decided that humans were a threat, seizing control of missile defense systems and wiping out three billion people. That was Judgment Day.”
Filmmakers did get to delve into their inner sci-fi geeks, with a fairly meticulous recreation of the initial sequence of Kyle Reese landing in 1984, down to the homeless man in the alley and the dog. But along with the familiar is a T-1000, a huge signal of all expectations being blown sky high.
Q: One of the great things about this movie is how we get to see different versions of the Terminator. How has your approach to the character changed over all these years, especially since in the first one it started off kind of like a sci-fi horror movie?
A: 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. Answered by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“Reese goes back as he did before, being told that Sarah Connor is a fairly helpless woman working as a waitress, she’ll have no idea what you’re talking about, but you’ll need to save her, even though she doesn’t believe. Then, not only is he greeted by a Terminator, which completely surprises and confuses him, but then Sarah arrives in a huge fashion, and it’s her character that has the famous line, ‘Come with me if you want to live.’”
According to David Ellison, “’Terminator Genisys’ is not a remake, it’s not a reboot, it’s not a sequel—it’s really a reimagining based on the Cameron source material. Viewers don’t have to be familiar with any of the previous films at all—this is definitely a stand-alone. But that being said, for the fans who have seen the first couple of films, there are some great Easter eggs in there. Exploiting the inherent nature of time travel, we go off on a divergent timeline to take these characters that audiences and I grew up with in a completely new direction.”
“Terminator Genisys” is now playing in theaters. Also read our full movie review here.