Ter­mi­na­tor 2

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James Cameron and Arnie re­flect on mak­ing a se­quel that changed ev­ery­thing.

Af­ter six years of the prop­erty rights to any Ter­mi­na­tor se­quel be­ing so en­tan­gled as to ren­der it a pipedream, Mario Kas­sar of Carolco Pic­tures fi­nally cut through the knots, emerg­ing to dan­gle the en­tic­ing prospect be­fore di­rec­tor James Cameron. He ini­tially wasn’t in­ter­ested, in­tent on pur­su­ing other ideas. Then he was of­fered $6m to di­rect – the en­tire bud­get of his clas­sic 1984 orig­i­nal, The Ter­mi­na­tor – and said, sim­ply, “OK!”

With a re­lease date im­me­di­ately set for 3 July, 1991, Cameron had just 20 months to come up with an idea, treat­ment and script, and then to shoot the damn thing and race through post-pro­duc­tion. Be­ing Cameron, he didn’t make it easy on him­self, en­vi­sion­ing 52 com­puter-gen­er­ated special ef­fects that were lit­er­ally ahead of the curve: ef­fects-house In­dus­trial Light & Magic would each week achieve some­thing that the pre­vi­ous week hadn’t been pos­si­ble. The plot, mean­while, would fo­cus on the first movie’s mythic re­sis­tance leader John Con­nor, not as a fully fledged fighter but rather as a kid, forced on the run with his mum, Sarah, when an ad­vanced, liq­uid metal Ter­mi­na­tor – the T-1000 – is sent back from the fu­ture to kill him be­fore he be­comes guer­rilla god­head. For­tu­nately for him, his mum is no longer a poo­dle-haired wait­ress but a pumped-up war­rior hav­ing spent seven years work­ing out in a padded room, rav­ing about killer ro­bots. Bet­ter still, the T-800 of the first film also ar­rives from the fu­ture to pro­tect him against this seem­ingly un­stop­pable foe.

The script, by Cameron and his old col­lege buddy Wil­liam Wisher, who had a dialogue credit on the first movie, ex­plored tra­di­tional themes of good ver­sus evil, sac­ri­fice, mis­trust of author­ity, and the de­hu­man­is­ing ef­fect of tech­nol­ogy. But the 186-day shoot pushed ac­tion cin­ema to new, ver­tig­i­nous heights, and ILM, af­forded a then-as­tro­nom­i­cal $5m bud­get, fash­ioned avant-garde images that de­fied com­pre­hen­sion. Ev­ery­body was work­ing seven-day weeks, some­times 18-hour days, with Cameron sleep­ing in the cut­ting room. Fi­nal prints were de­liv­ered just three days be­fore the cut-off date for reach­ing cin­e­mas in time. The fi­nal cost of Judg­ment Day was $102m – the most ex­pen­sive movie ever made at that point.

Opening on its ear-marked date of 3 July, 1991, T2 at­tracted queues around the block and was the high­est gross­ing film of the year, tak­ing $521m. It went on to se­cure its rep­u­ta­tion as one of the great­est block­busters, sci­ence-fic­tion movies and se­quels of all-time, and was this year re-re­leased into cin­e­mas in a 4K 3D con­ver­sion (over­seen by Cameron, nat­u­rally) that high­lighted just how re­mark­ably well it has weath­ered the 26 years since it ini­tially wowed view­ers.

To cel­e­brate its home entertainment re­lease, To­tal Film re­vis­its T2 with James

‘Ter­mi­na­tor 2 was so far ahead of its time, it’s mind-blow­ing’ Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger

Cameron, Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger, Robert Pa­trick and Ed­ward Fur­long, talk­ing through both its pro­duc­tion and its last­ing im­pact…

RISE OF THE MA­CHINES

Cameron had ex­per­i­mented with com­puter ef­fects in The Abyss, and ILM had been in ex­is­tence for 15 years, but T2 was the CGI show­case that shaped mod­ern cin­ema…

James Cameron: We knew at the time that we were on a curve of will­ing some­thing into ex­is­tence. I can’t take credit for CG an­i­ma­tion – the tool sets were be­ing cre­ated by a whole bunch of peo­ple all over the place – but like any good surfer who sees the wave com­ing and knows when it’s time to take the ride,

I knew it was time to take the ride. There was the feel­ing that we could get to some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary within the cy­cle of a sin­gle film pro­duc­tion. We did that on The Abyss and then we did it on T2, and then the same peo­ple at ILM who were work­ing on T2 went on to do Juras­sic Park. It was such a fer­tile time. Ev­ery­one was so ex­cited by it.

Robert Pa­trick: I was aware of In­dus­trial Light & Magic and I was try­ing to wrap my head around ev­ery­thing they were do­ing. I had seen The Abyss. I un­der­stood the liq­uid thing. I was en­cour­aged to re­ally get an un­der­stand­ing of the flu­id­ness of the char­ac­ter and the fact it was an ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence.

Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger: Ter­mi­na­tor 2 was so far ahead of its time, it’s mind­blow­ing. It is one of those movies that peo­ple still talk about as if it came out yes­ter­day.

SIZE DOESN’T MAT­TER

Cast­ing the slen­der Robert Pa­trick as the up­dated Ter­mi­na­tor was a bold move, with Cameron favour­ing agility and speed over brute strength… RP: Phys­i­cally, I matched what they were look­ing for, and what I did in the im­pro­vi­sa­tional au­di­tion was ex­actly what you see in the film. Jim was very en­cour­ag­ing. We stayed in the an­i­mal king­dom and thought about in­sects and preda­tors. I didn’t have a lot of dialogue but I had an in­cred­i­ble pres­ence, and that’s the gift of the moviemak­ing: the peo­ple I was work­ing with, the way I was lit, cos­tumed, the way we moved. I felt el­e­gant and dance-like and with pur­pose and al­ways in mo­tion, and I think that’s why the au­di­ence ac­cepted it. If I’d had a whole mono­logue, they might not have. Less was best. Still wa­ters run deep.

AS: It was bril­liant that Jim de­cided not to have a guy who was big­ger, or a stronger ma­chine. Robert was bril­liant at lock­ing in that Ter­mi­na­tor look.

JC: I got lucky with Robert, who com­pletely ful­filled on his prom­ise of what he showed me in the au­di­tion. He was so fast he could catch the mo­tor­bike when he was run­ning!

RP: I wasn’t in the best shape when I turned up to au­di­tion. I was an exath­lete but a heavy smoker at the time, and I was do­ing a play on stage where

I was play­ing a junkie and… I was not that healthy. I was very gaunt and lean. But when I got the role and started work­ing out, my mus­cle mem­ory kicked in, and I started build­ing up. But they didn’t want me built up, so I had to cut it back. They wanted what they had seen ini­tially but in bet­ter shape. So I worked out in­cred­i­bly hard for four months. The ci­garettes went on day one. I was like, “Oh fuck”

– I turned green at the first work­out.

So I stopped drink­ing, I stopped… any­thing I was do­ing recre­ational that I shouldn’t have been do­ing. It was a sober ex­pe­ri­ence. I worked out four times a day. By the time I got through with the train­ing, I was in the best shape of my life. My trainer treated me like an AI and only

called me T-1000. He con­vinced me that I was the bad­dest thing walk­ing the Earth. I lived in Hol­ly­wood at the time and I would prac­tise stalk­ing. I’d pick some­one out of the mass of hu­man­ity and fol­low them. They were the only thing I fo­cused on. It was fun.

YOUNG GUN

Cameron recog­nised that John Con­nor was the heart of the story in a road movie fo­cus­ing on a “warped nu­clear fam­ily”. The cast­ing of Ed­ward Fur­long was vi­tal…

JC: The most daunt­ing thing I faced was find­ing the right kid. I saw all the young ac­tors and it didn’t work. They’d done too many TV shows and com­mer­cials and they weren’t gen­uine. There had to be an authenticity to John’s pain and his dis­sat­is­fac­tion with his fam­ily and so­ci­ety and so on. Mali Finn, my cast­ing di­rec­tor, found young Ed­die Fur­long lean­ing against a chain­link fence at a club, with his eyes hooded and look­ing out through his hair. She went up to him and said, “Hey kid, you wanna be in a movie?” And his re­sponse, as con­veyed to me by Mali, was, “Get lost, frog face.” [laughs] She lit up like a pin­ball ma­chine, think­ing, ‘This is the kid.’ She said, “No, I’m se­ri­ous. Have you ever been in front of a cam­era?” He said, “Well, my dad shoots my birth­day par­ties… but I’m not with my dad any­more.” He was from a bro­ken home, he’d never acted, his dic­tion was ter­ri­ble, he couldn’t re­mem­ber the lines, he had no train­ing… but there was some­thing.

Ed­ward Fur­long: I was in a place called the Pasadena Boys’ Club. She said, “Can I have you come and au­di­tion for a movie? I can’t tell you what it is, but take my num­ber down and call me.” The first time I au­di­tioned I had no script. I was sup­posed to be yelling at Mali, as my mum. The sec­ond au­di­tion, not so good – they gave me lines. Mali came to my house and said, “Jim al­most wrote you off the list, but you’re gonna get an­other chance.” I took it very se­ri­ously and went balls to the wall. Af­ter I did my last au­di­tion, Jim said, “Don’t tell any­one this, but you got the movie.” That was awe­some.

AS: We had this won­der­ful re­la­tion­ship. He had this re­ally great time look­ing at me as this big guy he could have fun with. We re­ally be­came bud­dies. I hung out with him not just on the set but off the set. That was ex­tremely im­por­tant.

JC: Arnold took him un­der his wing. He is very canny. He will do what­ever is nec­es­sary to make what­ever he’s set his mind to a suc­cess. For T2 to be suc­cess­ful, the kid had to bring his best game. So Arnold was a fa­ther fig­ure to Ed­die. EF: I looked up to Arnold a lot. You can’t be this lit­tle boy and not be

im­pressed. He had this pres­ence.

WAR­RIOR WOMAN

Hamil­ton, re­turn­ing as Sarah Con­nor, not only pumped up but was given fight­ing and weapons train­ing by a former Is­raeli com­mando…

JC: I chal­lenged her to be­come a war­rior. But she also chal­lenged me. When

I called to ask if she’d be in­ter­ested in do­ing an­other

‘I was in the best shape of my life. My trainer treated me like an AI and only called me T-1000’ Robert Pa­trick

film, she said, “I’ll do it, but I want to be crazy.” I said, “Al­right, you wanna be crazy, I’ll put you in a men­tal hospi­tal.” And I started writ­ing it, and it just flowed. It made so much sense. Sarah knew, with ab­so­lute cer­tainty, that four-fifths of the hu­man pop­u­la­tion was going to die, so she’s liv­ing like a ghost in a ma­te­rial world – or maybe vice versa, the only real per­son in an im­ma­te­rial world. So you see, seven years on, the im­pact of that psy­cho­log­i­cally. It just all made sense and al­lowed me to drive to the core of the apoc­a­lyp­tic angst. She had this re­ally pro­found ef­fect on the fe­male au­di­ence. She was one of the first truly em­pow­ered fe­male char­ac­ters. She’s phys­i­cally strong, men­tally strong, psy­cho­log­i­cally strong. And there’s no sex­u­al­ity about her char­ac­ter. You can say the same thing about Sigour­ney Weaver in Alien right up un­til the last scene where she’s in her nice lit­tle tight panties, and you say, “OK, OK, at the very last sec­ond they snatched de­feat from the jaws of vic­tory.” Be­cause be­fore that she’s a brass-ball bitch.

AS: Linda not only changed her at­ti­tude, she changed her look. It was not like she had five years to get ready for this

– it was a few months. I come from the phys­i­cal fit­ness world where you re-shape and re-sculpt your body. But what I saw there was ex­tra­or­di­nary. I said “Look at how ripped you are!”

GOOD RO­BOT

The T-800 was al­ready ap­pear­ing high on polls of the movies’ great­est ever vil­lains, so turn­ing him into the good guy in T2 was an au­da­cious tac­tic…

AS: My first thought was, “Bull­shit – this isn’t going to work.” Then James Cameron ex­plained to me that for the kid, I was the good guy. But for ev­ery­one else try­ing to get to the kid, I was a bad, bad guy. I thought, “Wow, that is a re­ally new twist.”

JC: The key to mak­ing a good se­quel is not throw­ing more of the same at it. You have to swerve, sur­prise the au­di­ence, yet not pull the rug out from un­der them. You have to pay off on the things that they do want. So part of it is you have to an­a­lyse what did work. It wasn’t hard for me to do that on Alien be­cause I was a fan­boy. [laughs] When you’re work­ing with your own stuff, you have to ap­ply a bit of ob­jec­tive anal­y­sis and not get high on your own sup­ply – not con­vinc­ing your­self what peo­ple re­sponded to, but going out and re­ally talk­ing to peo­ple. The sur­prise fac­tor: well, now the Ter­mi­na­tor is a good guy.

It was a leap for­ward and some­thing fresh.

RP: I’m the bad guy and when we re­veal how bad I am, it’s the Guns N’ Roses song, where I come around with the Baretta and I mean busi­ness. Well, what hap­pens? He fires on me, I take the hits, I fire on him, he takes the hits. The hits knock me off my feet but I get up and re­group. Now we’re in a clench and he re­alises, “Whoa, hold on, he’s as strong as I am – how can this be?” And then we bang each other into walls and I grab him and spin him around and throw him out the fuck­ing win­dow. That’s badass. Arnold gave me a pat on the back. He re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated how I was mov­ing.

IT WILL NOT STOP…

Twenty-six years on, T2 is re­garded a clas­sic. But did its per­fec­tion­ist writer/ di­rec­tor feel it still stood up in to­day’s VFX-drenched mar­ket when he re­turned to it for the 3D con­ver­sion?

JC: I cringed a bit at the thought that it might be very dated, even the­mat­i­cally, be­cause so­ci­ety had moved on. I was sur­prised to see that de­spite the lim­i­ta­tions of that time, in terms of what we could do with com­puter an­i­ma­tion, it ac­tu­ally held up rather well. And I think the rea­son for that is be­cause we used CG so spar­ingly. We did a lot of prac­ti­cal ef­fects and a lot of pros­thetic ef­fects to sur­round the CG. That’s a tribute to Stan Win­ston and his team. I think it still stands up. The­mat­i­cally it stands up more than ever, if you think about preda­tor drones and things like that. We’re now ac­tu­ally hav­ing se­ri­ous dis­cus­sions at high lev­els about the ethics of au­ton­o­mous kill ve­hi­cles, segue­ing seam­lessly from sci­ence-fic­tion into a daily re­al­ity of robotics and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. I’ve been in­volved in se­ri­ous dis­cus­sions with top AI peo­ple who as­sure us re­peat­edly that such things as the Ter­mi­na­tor could never hap­pen. But they can’t say ex­actly how they would pre­vent it. Be­cause if you talk to any top AI re­searcher they say that their goal is to cre­ate a sen­tience, a con­scious­ness. To es­sen­tially cre­ate a per­son. And once a ma­chine is a per­son, what does that mean – can you then con­strain it and make it do only what you tell it? I think we call that slav­ery.

RP: I was just amazed at how young and beau­ti­ful we all were!

Ter­mi­na­Tor 2: Judg­menT day is re­leased on dVd, 2d Blu-ray, 3d Blu-ray and 4K uHd on 30 oc­To­Ber.

lean and mean James Cameron threw a curve­ball by cast­ing Robert Pa­trick as a smaller, more ag­ile Ter­mi­na­tor than Sch­warzeneg­ger.

Ready ed­die ed­ward Fur­long was plucked from the street to play John Con­nor, as Cameron wanted some­one with­out an act­ing back­ground.

new woman linda Hamil­ton wanted Sarah Con­nor to be a very dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter to her poo­dle-haired self from the orig­i­nal movie. So she put her­self into train­ing.

i’ll be dad Sch­warzeneg­ger be­came some­thing of a fa­ther fig­ure to Fur­long, men­tor­ing him through the pro­duc­tion of T2.

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