James Cameron Denies O.J. Simpson Casting on ‘Terminator’: ‘That’s a Bad Idea’

"It didn’t go anywhere," Cameron said of a studio executive pitching Simpson for the role.
O.J. Simpson, Arnold Schwarzenegger in "The Terminator"
O.J. Simpson, Arnold Schwarzenegger in "The Terminator"

James Cameron is calling out the rumor that O.J. Simpson was originally cast in 1984’s “The Terminator.”

The “Avatar: The Way of Water” director clarified during HBO Max’s “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace” that a studio executive pitched the idea of Simpson starring in the title action role, but Cameron immediately shut it down.

“Very early on, a highly placed person at one of the two studios that funded that film had a brilliant idea and called me up and said, ‘Are you sitting down?’ I said, ‘Well, no, I’m not.’ He said, ‘Are you sitting? O.J. Simpson for the Terminator!'” Cameron recalled (via Variety). “I said, ‘I actually think that’s a bad idea.’ It didn’t go anywhere.”

Cameron previously said that studio executive was Mike Medavoy of Orion during a 2019 Los Angeles Times interview following Arnold Schwarzenegger’s claims that Simpson was essentially cast in the role first.

“O.J. Simpson was never in the mix at all,” Cameron said at the time. “That was rejected out of hand before it ever got any traction.”

Simpson had starred in “A Killing Affair,” “Capricorn One,” “Firepower,” “Goldie and the Boxer,” and “Detour to Terror” prior to when “The Terminator” would have gone into production. In 1988, Simpson made his debut in the “Naked Gun” film series. He later was accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in 1994; Simpson ultimately was acquitted in the criminal case in 1995.

“The Terminator” icon Schwarzenegger formerly told The Independent that Simpson was “the first-cast Terminator” for the film.

“Somehow [James Cameron] felt that he was not as believable for a killing machine,” Schwarzenegger said. “So then they hired me. That’s really what happened.”

Cameron revisited the “Terminator” franchise with 2019’s “Terminator: Dark Fate,” which he executive produced. Despite “butting heads” with director Tim Miller, Cameron recalled the reunion between original stars Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton as being too much of a nostalgia play.

“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,” Cameron said. “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.”

Cameron added, “I think the problem, and I’m going to wear this one, is that I refused to do it without Arnold. 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.'”

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