Did You Know OJ Simpson was Originally Cast as The Terminator? Here’s an Oral History of the Film 30 Years Later.
The Terminator turns 30 years old this year (on October 26 to be exact). The movie launched the career of director James Cameron, who would go on to direct 2 of the highest grossing films of all-time (Titanic and Avatar) and set Arnold Schwarzenegger up to be one of film’s biggest action stars and the eventual “governator” of California. It was also the source of countless Hip-Hop references from House of Pain to Nicki Minaj. Entertainment Weekly recently conducted interviews with Cameron, Schwarzenegger and several other key contributors to the film, for an oral history. Check out an excerpt below and a link to the full article.
Here’s an excerpt from the oral history:
DEATH METAL NIGHTMARE
It all started in 1981 with a dream. Cameron, then a 26-year-old model maker and art director for Corman, was in Rome attempting to get his name off the ignominious Piranha II: The Spawning, a low-rent horror sequel he had directed for five days before being fired.
JAMES CAMERON (director-coscreenwriter) Nightmares are a business asset; that’s the way I look at it. I was sick, I was broke, I had a high fever, and I had a dream about this metal death figure coming out of a fire. And the implication was that it had been stripped of its skin by the fire and exposed for what it really was. When I have some particularly vivid image, I’ll draw it or I’ll write some notes, and that goes on to this day.
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (The Terminator) Mike Medavoy came up to me at a screening and told me that they already had the Terminator cast with O.J. Simpson, but they would like me to play Kyle Reese. And he told me I should go meet with the guy who’s going to direct it.
CAMERON The Arnold thing was harder to deal with, because he had just come out with Conan the Barbarian, so I had to think of a way to torpedo the idea. I was walking out to meet Arnold for lunch to discuss Reese, and the last thing I said to my roommate was “Do I owe you any money? Because I have to go pick a fight with Conan.”
SCHWARZENEGGER I could visualize very clearly what the Terminator should look like. And so when I met Cameron to talk about Kyle Reese, I gave him all these points: This is what you should do with the Terminator, this is how the Terminator should act.
CAMERON I went to lunch to pull “creative differences,” but I actually liked him. I was studying him at the restaurant, just watching the light from the window on his face and thinking, “Holy crap, what a face! Forget the Reese thing. Arnold would make a hell of a Terminator.”