All eyes are on James Cameron this weekend as Disney rolls out his long-awaited “Avatar: The Way of Water.” But while the filmmaker is primarily focused on talking about the extensive effects work that went into his new sequel, he still found time to reflect on his other big franchise, “The Terminator.”
In a new interview with Deadline, Cameron discussed his decision to return to the series in 2019 as an executive producer on “Terminator: Dark Fate.” He said that he attributes the film’s box office failure to some blind spots he and director Tim Miller missed during the creative process.
“I think, I’m actually reasonably happy with the film,” Cameron said. “Tim and I had our battles and we’ve both spoken about that, but the crazy thing is we’re still pals. Which is weird. I liked him before the movie, didn’t like him very much during the movie, and I like him now, and I think he feels the same way. We’re both these crazy sci-fi geeks and we like a lot of the same things, and I love his show, ‘Love, Death + Robots.’ But yeah, we butted heads.”
One of the biggest points of contention was Cameron’s insistence on casting Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had been synonymous with the franchise since its inception.
“I think the problem, and I’m going to wear this one, is that I refused to do it without Arnold,” Cameron said. “Tim didn’t want Arnold, but I said, ‘Look, I don’t want that. Arnold and I have been friends for 40 years, and I could hear it, and it would go like this: ‘Jim, I can’t believe you’re making a ‘Terminator’ movie without me.” It just didn’t mean that much to me to do it, but I said, ‘If you guys could see your way clear to bringing Arnold back and then, you know, I’d be happy to be involved.’”
While Cameron was determined to cast Schwarzenegger, Miller was more passionate about bringing back Linda Hamilton as Sarah Conor. In hindsight, Cameron believes that casting both actors turned the movie into a nostalgia play rather than something young audiences could take ownership of.
“And then Tim wanted Linda,” he said. “I think the movie could have survived having Linda in it, I think it could have survived having Arnold in it, but when you put Linda and Arnold in it and then, you know, she’s 60-something, he’s 70-something, all of a sudden it wasn’t your ‘Terminator’ movie, it wasn’t even your dad’s ‘Terminator’ movie, it was your granddad’s ‘Terminator’ movie. And we didn’t see that. We loved it, we thought it was cool, you know, that we were making this sort of direct sequel to a movie that came out in 1991. And young moviegoing audiences weren’t born. They wouldn’t even have been born for another 10 years.”