Almost as soon as news of a fourth “Terminator” movie began to trickle out years ago, fans and haters alike started wondering if the original T-800 cyborg and current Governor of California would be joining in on the action. This weekend at New York Comic-Con, “Terminator Salvation” director McG gave his most pointed admission yet that Arnold Schwarzenegger will in fact be making an appearance in the film—but who knows what form that appearance may take.
“I don’t want today’s Arnold Schwarzenegger,” the director told a packed hall after screening a sizzle reel from the May 2009 release (McG also responded to the unearthed on-set Christian Bale tirade here). Referencing the original film, he said, “I want the idealized, Griffith Park, Bill Paxton, tire-track-on-the-face archetype and we’ll see what we can do about that.”
Might he be working on some “Benjamin Button”-esque special effects to take the somewhat flabby 61-year-old Arnold of today and digitally sculpt him into the jacked badass Arnold of 1984? McG refused to delve much into the details, but he did say he’s enlisted the help of two-time Academy Award-winning effects master Charles Gibson and the wizards at Industrial Light & Magic to create a look that has never been seen on screen before. The ultimate goal, McG explained, is to “figure out how to blur the line between a human character and a synthetic character to the point where you just can’t tell where one begins and one ends.”
Ambitious to be sure, but McG understands that after James Cameron split the T-1000’s liquid metal head in half in “T2,” any director who takes on the “Terminator” franchise has an insane amount of pressure on his shoulders. “I think it’s the responsibility of a ‘Terminator’ movie to push that ball forward,” he admitted.
Schwarzenegger agrees. “If [McG] has the T4 and the kind of shots that has the audience thinking, ‘Now how did he do that?’—then it is ‘Terminator’ and you can blow everyone away and every record at the box office,” he told the LA Times last year. “I do hope it creates a spectacle on the screen. That is what James Cameron created.”
McG, my friend, one person you do not want on your bad side is the Governator. Nor, for that matter, Cameron, who neither gave his blessing nor an outright condemnation to the franchise reboot. McG, though, seems well on his way to making his predecessors proud, which has always been a high priority for the guy whose credits include two “Charlie’s Angels” flicks. Toward the end of a media roundtable at the Con, McG promised, “I intend to honor those who are the reason why we are here.”
How do you like your Arnie—flabby and real, or digitally enhanced and buff? And will McG end up making those who came before him proud?