Did You Know These Behind-The-Scenes Secrets Of The Terminator Franchise?

Terminator T-800 Maquette

August 29th is Judgment Day- where were you when Skynet took over?

To celebrate our survival of the robot uprising, Sideshow did a special Terminator-themed Live Show, which you can see right here.  Then, read on to learn some behind the scenes secrets of the Terminator franchise thanks to our friends at Screenrant!

When The Terminator hit theaters on October 26, 1984, it took the world by storm. James Cameron’s futuristic thriller redefined both the post-apocalyptic and time-travel sub-genres, while introducing fascinating concepts about the dangers of modern technology. It also cemented Arnold Schwarzenegger’s status as one of the biggest action icons of the ’80s and beyond.

Cameron’s directorial skills were also rightfully lauded, and after the success of the film (and his subsequent hit Aliens), the inevitable sequel was green-lit, resulting in the immensely popular 1991 box-office smash Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which expanded upon the original film’s mythos, while adding a bigger sense of action and spectacle, bolstered by a drastically bigger budget than the original.

With an ever-expanding roster of new movies, the series remains one of the most popular franchises in sci-fi history. Let’s look back at some behind-the-scenes facts that you may not have known about everyone’s favorite time traveling robot…


Orion Pictures Studio Head Mike Medavoy initially suggested O.J. Simpson as The Terminator– which led to the Director James Cameron approaching Arnold Schwarzenegger to play the time-traveling soldier, Kyle Reese: “Medavoy came up to me at a screening and told me that they already had the Terminator cast with O.J. Simpson.”

When the actor later met with James Cameron, the director became intrigued by Schwarzenegger’s suggestions on the T-800’s motivations–suggesting several elements of the character that would make it into the final product. Cameron then asked Schwarzenegger if he would play that part instead.  At first, Schwarzenegger was reluctant to play a villain, but he eventually warmed to the idea.

Another interesting piece of trivia: before Michael Biehn was cast as Reese, other performers considered for the part included everyone from Sting and Bruce Springsteen to Bruce Willis, Kurt Russell, Mel Gibson, Christopher Reeve, and Mickey Rourke!


Terminator 2: Judgment Day was an incredibly expensive production for its time, but director James Cameron tried to cut corners and save money whenever possible. One of the most effective ways of cutting costs involved the use of twins–and not just one, but two sets of identical siblings were used over the course of filming. The first instance involves Lewis the security guard who is murdered by his doppelgänger (the T-1000 in disguise).

To achieve this old-school visual effect, he hired identical twins Don and Dan Stanton (also known for their dual roles in Good Morning, Vietnam and Gremlins 2: The New Batch).  And Linda Hamilton’s twin sister Leslie also played a significant role in Judgment Day, portraying Sarah Connor’s T-1000 facsimile.


Director James Cameron lent his voice to a number of easy-to-miss off-screen roles. In The Terminator, Cameron’s voice can be heard cancelling a date on Sarah’s answering machine, and as the Tiki Motel receptionist. In the sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Cameron has a much more… horrifying role: voicing the death shrieks of the T-1000.


While Lance Henriksen is best known for playing the benevolent android Bishop in James Cameron’s Aliens, he previously collaborated with the director on the original Terminator movie, playing doomed police Sergeant Hal Vukovich. But he initially lobbied to play the cold blooded cyborg himself!

While he didn’t nab the role, he did play a crucial part in getting Cameron’s film off the ground: he dressed like the character during a pitch meeting for the film with Hemdale Pictures. The actor burst through the door wearing a leather jacket, fake lacerations, and gold foil on his teeth and sat down in the chair.

The director arrived shortly afterwards, pleased by the shocked expressions of Hemdale head John Daly and his staff. Henriksen’s interpretation was so impressive that it helped finalize the deal.


James Cameron shot an alternate ending to Terminator 2: Judgement Day that ruled out any ambiguity–Judgment Day never happened at all: humanity had triumphed!

In the clip, Sarah Connor gives this wistful speech: “August 29, 1997, came and went. Nothing much happened. Michael Jackson turned 40. There was no Judgment Day. People went to work as they always do. Laughed, complained, watched TV, made love. I wanted to run to through the street yelling to grab them all and say, “Every day from this day on is a gift. Use it well.” Instead, I got drunk. That was 30 years ago. But the dark future which never came still exists for me. And it always will, like the traces of a dream. John fights the war differently than it was foretold. Here, on the battlefield of the Senate, his weapons were common sense and hope. The luxury of hope was given me by the Terminator. Because if a machine can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.”


The Terminator marked the first of several collaborations between James Cameron and Michael Biehn, cementing the young actor as one of the most unforgettable sci-fi stars of the ‘80s and ‘90s – and creating a strange running joke in the process.

Actors and directors forming shorthand jokes or repeated catchphrases are nothing new, but for Biehn, Cameron made sure the actor paid a price for his starring roles. Biehn’s heroes would wind up having their hands bitten in all three of their films: bitten by Sarah Connor in The Terminator, the lone survivor ‘Newt’ in Aliens, and by Bud Brigman (Ed Harris) in The Abyss.  Cameron originally planned on casting Biehn in his 3D hit Avatar, so we have to assume he had a set of alien teeth with the actor’s name on it too!


The Terminator Premium Format Figure

To achieve the T-800’s automaton-like efficiency while wielding a variety of firearms, Schwarzenegger went through a rigorous training regimen for the original film. The actor practiced assembling and stripping weaponry while blind-folded, so that his movements would look clinical and automatic.

Schwarzenegger spent many hours at shooting ranges, never looking down at his weaponry during reloading or cocking, and also resisted the urge to blink during scenes. To further this inhuman approach, the actor’s facial movements were also robotic: if you watch closely, you’ll notice his eyes always move first, and his head follows. This is yet another testament to the creativity and preparedness he brought to his performance.

In the end, Schwarzenegger spent far more effort on the physical nature of the character than delivering dialogue: he only uttered 58 words in the original film.


Plenty of movie magic went into making the first movie a hit, but not every extra touch was planned ahead of time – or healthy for the cast and crew!
After Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor spend an evening hiding out under a bridge from both police and the Terminator, the pair emerge into morning fog. As most movie fans would guess, the fog isn’t real… but it isn’t fake, either…

The film’s production took place during the 1982 Mexican Fruit Fly panic, when the insecticide Malathion was generously sprayed in the Los Angeles area. The filmmakers had planned to wait for the clouds to clear before shooting the scene, but decided to use the added effect instead. Oh, how the times have changed!


Before Robert Patrick landed the part of the liquid metal villain, Cameron had someone quite different in mind for the role, namely ’80’s MTV icon Billy Idol!
Terminator 2 stunt coordinator Joel Kramer discovered this after looking over Cameron’s pre-production storyboards: “I was like, ‘Jim, these storyboards look just like Billy Idol! And he was like, ‘Yeah, he was my first pick.’”

In the end, it wasn’t meant to be: the singer famous for songs like “Rebel Yell” and “White Wedding” was involved in a nasty motorcycle accident, leaving him with a broken leg (which also took him out of the running for a high-profile role in Oliver Stone’s The Doors). Even though Idol didn’t nab the part, he would explore similar futuristic themes with his ambitious 1993 concept album: Cyberpunk.


Terminator Battle Damaged Premium Format Figure

It’s true. As hard as it is to fathom, Schwarzenegger almost put the kibosh on the most famous one-liner in his career. He asked if the line could be modified to “I will be back,” thinking it odd that the cyborg would speak in contractions.

Cameron was not pleased with the suggestion, and in the end, 10 takes of the actor delivering his iconic catchphrase were shot, and they settled on one of the most memorable moments in 1980s cinema.

Another weird factoid about this iconic phrase: in the novelization of Cameron’s screenplay the line was changed to “I’ll come back.” It just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

Life-Size T-800 Endoskeleton

Bring a cybernetic addition your collection, check out Sideshow’s wide range of Terminator products – HERE.