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The Making Of The Terminator: A Retrospective.
(From "The Terminator" Ultimate Edition. Disc 2).
English subtitles.

J.C. - James Cameron (Movie’s director).
A.S. - Arnold Schwarzenegger (Actor).
T. – Terminator (from movie).
W. – Woman (Movie’s character).
B. – Boy (Movie’s character).
K.R. – Kyle Reese (Movie’s character).
S.C. – Sarah Connor (Movie’s character).

Almost all documentary is James’s and Arnold’s dialogue.

J.C.: Terminator was an idea that I had when I was in Rome. I was sitting around my hotel room. I was sick at the time. I had a real high fever. I was laying on the bed and came up with all this bizarre imagery. I think also the idea, because I was in a foreign city by myself, and I felt very dissociated from humanity in general, it was easy to project myself into these two characters from the future, who were out of sync, out of time, out of place, that sort of thing. I’d always wanted to do some sort of really definitive robot story. It had really never been done.


J.C.: What did you think when you first got the script for T1? They wanted you to read
for the other guy, right? So you read it thinking about the other guy, about Reese. Do you remember what you were thinking?

A.S.: The more I read the script, the more I remember I got fascinated by the Terminator.

J.C.: The bad guy.

A.S.: The bad guy. Which I thought was the real cool guy.

T.: Your clothes. Give them to me (Scene from movie).

J.C..: What he loved was the story. And what he especially loved was everything that Terminator did.

A.S.: We were talking along the lines of me playing the heroic character.

J.C.: Right. Cos that’s what I thought you were coming in for. The funny thing was, when I went to that lunch, I didn’t see that... Y’know, in the back of my mind, I was thinking Terminator, so were you, but we have a polite lunch, cos we’ve never met each other, and neither one of us mentions it. And then we both go back to our guys and say, "Terminator".

A.S.: You then did something really smart. You sent over to my office your painting, that you did, of Terminator, actually with my face on it. And holding the.45 like this across the chin. And I looked at this painting and I said, "I am the Terminator." "I’m going to make this call now." I called Lou, my agent, right away, and I called you, and I said, "I want to play the Terminator." The deal was made.

J.C.: What changed was that the original concept, as written, and the script didn’t change at all, not a single line of dialogue, but the visual concept was that the Terminator was an anonymous character who could walk out of a crowd. One face in a crowd could walk up and kill you, for no apparent reason, except for what your life would mean in some future time. And that concept changed, because Arnold doesn’t vanish into a crowd. It took on a slightly more hyperbolic visual style. A little larger than life. It still played realistically, but it became more nightmarish. You always knew he wasn’t quite human.

J.C.: Obviously, to get the intensity on the face to make you a killer, there was a fine line with

having you be completely blank. So there was some sense of... Emotion isn’t really the right word, but intention, I think. The fact that you were a killer, I don’t want to say predator, but a predatory creature, in a way. And very focused on your goal.

T.: Sarah Connor? (Scene from movie).

W.: Yes? (Scene from movie).

Terminator shooting.

A.S.: We really narrowed it down to just, "lf this would be a robot, what movement would there be going on?" And it would literally only be the arm coming across, pulling out, cocking, shooting. No shoulder movement, no head movement, back, and then the whole body would turn and walk away. But with a smoothness, too.

J.C.: It was very positive and very smooth. Not jerky either, because jerkiness wastes energy. It was like the ultimate efficiency, you know, to get the shortest path between two points.

J.C.: What I found effective, certainly on Terminator, was to do a slow-motion build-up, or to subtly segue into slow motion, where you almost don't realise it, and it becomes almost a dream-like pace. Or that dilation of time that you experience when you’re in a traffic accident. It’s happening, you can’t stop it, and time seems to have stretched. For me, the fun in that scene was the build-up, the latent tension of what is going to happen, knowing that one guy is armed, the other guy is armed, lurking around through the crowd, so all hell’s going to break loose.

K.R.: Come with me if you want to live. (Scene from movie).

J.C.: I remember the first day, we shot the scene where you drive through the parking garage, in the police car you, ve stolen, looking for them. On that first day we got together and we talked a bit and we worked out some physical behaviour, like...

A.S.: Scanning.

J.C.: Like a shark, the way it moves back and forth, looking for prey. And you came up with the idea of moving your eyes, then moving your head to follow the eyes, then moving the eyes back, then the head, like a surveillance camera. The funny thing was, it didn’t really get real to me until the next morning in dailies, and I saw that close-up. I went, "This is working great. Nobody has ever seen this before."

T.: I'll be back. (Scene from movie).

J.C.: Writing, "I, II be back," I didn’t think that that line would play funny. You have to see the movie to know he, s coming through the door with the car. I figured that that would be a line for people seeing the film again. Obviously, Terminator is a movie people see over and over, so it works like that. But you know what? It worked even if people hadn’t seen the movie because they could just guess what your version of coming back would be. By that point, they were in sync with the picture and it was working.

J.C.: In the first picture, you were so enthusiastic about the character, and the work, as you are in all your films, but I hadn’t worked with you before, so I wasn’t ready. You jumped in. There was stuff where we had you tied to the top of a car, holding on as the car raced backward down the alley with your arm on fire.

A.S.: I think the worst moments were not really when I had to do something physically, like, you know, running through a window, or falling through a window, landing on glass or something, or being on top of a car. It was more the acid that was poured on me, to make me smoke, to make the character smoke...

J.C.: (laughs) Yeah, we did pour acid on you.

A.S.: I said, "Is there no other way?"

J.C.: It’s a very mild acid!

A.S.: Yeah, very mild.

(They laughs together).

A.S.: "Is there no way they can just put some smoke in somewhere, in the clothes, so I can smoke, rather than having acid poured on?" With fire and acid and those things, you never know...

J.C.: (laughs). When that stuff gets around the face...

A.S.: Too much. Or in the eyes. It burns a little bit.

J.C.: I think that there was one major decision that was made, that everything else sort of devolved from, which was made jointly between myself and Stan Winston, when I approached him to do the make-up and prosthetic effects on the film. That decision was to not do a man in a suit. We had to sell the idea that this was the suit that was inside the man.

A.S.: All I remember was that I walked into Stan Winston, s office, his building, where he designed everything, the Terminator look, after you got through prepping him, what it should look like, and he started making drawings and the make-up, and designed all this stuff. I remember walking in one time... ...and he said to me, "This is what you, re going to look like."
And I looked at this. And I did not think it was humanly possible to create this kind of make-up.

J.C.: Cheekbones sticking out.

A.S.: There was mechanism underneath. The hydraulic mechanism underneath the cheeks. When the meat is ripped off, when the teeth are sticking out and the side of the mouth is gone. When the artificial eye, that lens, is exposed and lights up red and all this stuff. When I saw that I said to myself, "That’s impossible to do. "He looked at me and when I told him that, he said to me, "It’s possible, Arnold, but it will take hours and hours and hours, and a lot of your patience."

T.: Get out. (Scene from movie).

J.C.: I tried to structure a script in such a way that it was not too highfalutin, budget-wise. The executive producer begged us to write more of the scenes as daytime, because of the perceived cost difference. But, y’know, I plunged madly on. It seemed so important stylistically to keep the film a night film as much as possible, and so we kept it that way. I don’t think it impacted the cost that much.

A.S.: The first one was really a struggle, especially for make-up, because there wasn’t that much time available or that much money.

J.C.: Exactly. By the end, we hardly even had anybody to put it on. It was, "Arnold, put this on!" (and they laughs).

A.S.: I know. We would go out on our own to shoot. Remember punching in the window?

J.C.: We went and stole shots. At the end, we got a crew of three together and went out to do some close-ups of you.

A.S.: You held the camera. I had to put the special thing on it, then the gloves, put my clothes on. There was no one from wardrobe there. I had my clothes in the trunk of the car. Pulled it out, put on the jacket. You said, "Quickly, before the police come." "Walk across the street and punch in the window." I said OK. We’re looking left and right. I put on the glove quickly and the grey jacket, all this stuff. Then you went like this, saying there was a camera behind the car. I went over there. Boom! "OK, let, s move on to the next location!"

J.C.: What was funny is that all of that scrambling around to do that, it didn’t occur to you to ask, "What do you mean, punch in a window?" "Punch in a glass window?" It was just, like, do it.

K.R.: You still don't get it, do you? He'll find her. That's what he does. That's all he does. (Scene from movie).

J.C.: The other thing important to me in a film is subjectivity, getting the audience to see what,s happening as the character sees it, as opposed to sort of sitting outside. I like to try to force you to see it and feel it the way they do, within the frame. You can’t step in there with them but hopefully the next best thing. It was primarily an aesthetic decision in the writing, to show these nightmarish glimpses as they were perceived, subjectively, by this character, Reese. And then to take that and juxtapose it back and forth with Sarah Connor and her sort of very normal, almost mundane, life.

A.S.: When you were casting, especially the female lead, which then became Linda Hamilton’s part, I remember you were very interested in finding someone that fits a certain specification, a certain woman. I think that’s interesting. You were telling me what you were looking for.

S.C.: Are you saying it's from the future? (Scene from movie).

K.R.: One possible future. (Scene from movie).

S.C.: Then you're from the future, too, is that right? (Scene from movie).

K.R.: Right. (Scene from movie).

S.C.: Right. (Scene from movie).

J.C.: It’s interesting. We cast Linda and she was right for the first picture. She had to have some strength but when you first saw her, she had to seem to be kind of an everyday person and vulnerable, the kind of person who was almost a victim, in a way. At the end that strength emerges.

S.C.: Move it, Reese! On your feet, soldier! On your feet! (Scene from movie).

A.S.: At first she was this soft, nice, feminine girl, that was working there in this restaurant, just having a great time, being one of these young girls that was out there, having a good time. And then, as she became the victim, and as time went on and she realised what her mission was, she became harder and harder. At the end, she was really tough. You really got the feeling, "This woman has changed." And she, s ready to take on this challenge.

S.C.: You're terminated. (Scene from movie).

J.C.: Michael Biehn, obviously, did a fabulous job with Reese.

J.C.: There is a funny anecdote there, which is that Michael came in to read for us and he gave the best reading of any of the actors that we’d seen, but it was with a Southern accent. We talked to his agent, politely said, "Michael's very good, but we really don’t want him to seem so specific, that he comes from the South." "He, s from the future, we don’t it to be that specific."
And the agent said, "What accent? He doesn’t have a Southern accent! It turned out that he, d been reading for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, that morning of the reading, and he hadn’t shaken the accent.

K.R.: Run, Sarah. (Scene from movie).

S.C.: No. (Scene from movie).

K.R.: Run! (Scene from movie).

J.C.: So he gave another great reading, minus the accent, and we cast him.

K.R.: I came across time for you, Sarah. I love you. I always have. (Scene from movie).

A.S.: I always felt that this was more than the ordinary action film. And it was more than a special-effects film, or what some thought was just a B movie. And that it is only appealing to the kids between 14 and 18. This is not to be looked at as just a limited audience, a movie for a limited audience. But in fact, I think the story is so solid and so good and has so many interesting messages and is also entertaining, that it would have a broad appeal. That it would have an appeal for the women, it has something for the older folks. It had something in there for everyone. And I think because of that, after the movie was gone from the theatres, then when it came on television, it was ten times as big, the ratings, and how many people saw it. Then when the video came out, it was like a mushrooming effect. I think that eventually led to the belief that we must do a second Terminator.

J.C.: It’s funny. Every year that went by, that we didn’t make the sequel, the demand for the sequel got greater.

A.S.: Exactly. That’s why you and I, when we got together periodically, and started working on a plan and mapping out times to keep a certain time period blocked out so we could eventually...

J.C.: Actually, you’d call about once every six months, you, d talk about other things for about five minutes and then, "So, how’s Terminator 2 going?

A.S.: That’s right. Anyway, we were fortunate enough that it did come together and we did make a second Terminator.

B: (Talking on Spanish) (Scene from movie).

S.C.: What did he just say? (Scene from movie).

M.: He said there's a storm coming in. (Scene from movie).

S.C.: I know. (Scene from movie).

J.C.: Terminator 1 was like a hallucination for me. I was making my first picture. I had no idea it was going to be a success. When I wrote it, I probably thought it stood a chance of being a success. I wrote it that way on purpose. But you never really believe that it, s going to happen or that it can happen. So everything after that was like a dream for me for a while. Then I realised, yes, it did happen, this really did find its audience. It gave me a lot of courage as a filmmaker to go on and do other stuff.

A.S.: I felt right from the beginning, when I read the script, and when I had my meeting with Jim Cameron, that it was a winner. I felt it all the way through shooting the movie, every time we prepared for a stunt, every time we did a scene, I was more and more convinced we had a winner on our hands. Then when Jim showed me... After the shooting was completed, he showed to me some of the edited footage. And when I saw that, it was so intense and it was so well done that I just couldn’t get enough of it. It was really one of the first times that I could see rough cuts of a film and wanted to see more and more of it. I believed all along that it would go through the roof. I was hoping and praying that the studio would believe the same thing and would support it 100 percent. I knew I was sitting on a goldmine.

Text by Shman.

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